The 20 best free Roku channels for movies and TV shows

Roku (Fair Use) Remix by Jason Reed

Some of the best things on Roku are free.

It’s possible to never run out of great content to watch without ever spending a dime on subscriptions, thanks to Roku free channels. The streaming platform is overflowing with thousands of channels that offer incredible free movies, TV shows, and original programming. Of course, the downside of such an ecosystem is the supercilious amount of fluff, channels that look cool but offer nothing of real value. We’ve done the hard part, finding the best free channels on Roku, whether you’re looking for news, entertainment, or something for the kids to watch. Here are the best Roku free channels right now.

The best Roku free channels

1) Tubi TV

Tubi TV has taken Crackle’s crown as the best free service on Roku, with a massive library of over 7,400 TV shows and movies available for free streaming. This ad-supported network doesn’t have original content, instead focusing on its vast library of movies and series. Anime fans, in particular, should take note of Tubi’s incredible collection, but there’s truly a little something for everyone. While many services feature mostly direct-to-video films and old shows, Tubi puts award-winning films and series in your reach. If there were an ad-free option, we’d subscribe.

best_free_roku_channels_tubi Photo via Roku   

2) Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is one of the leading anime streaming services in America, thanks in part to its free options. While paying customers can watch ad-free HD streams, free users can stream the entire catalog in standard definition with limited ads. Catch up on One Piece, Naruto, Overlord, Hunter x Hunter, and hundreds of other shows without spending a dime. Though with subscriptions costing just $6.99 per month, we recommend subscribing if you’re a fan. Or join the previously mentioned VRV to bundle the service. (Here are our picks for the best anime on Crunchyroll.)

best_free_roku_channels_crunchyroll Photo via Roku

3) YouTube

Getting used to the organized chaos of YouTube might take a little bit of time, but no other service offers more options. With over a billion videos on the site, including shows, music, movies, documentaries, blogs, and more, YouTube is a never-ending stream of content.

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best_free_roku_channels_youtube Photo via Roku

4) Sky News

One of the best Roku channels, Sky News is a 24/7 news network offering coverage from the U.K. and the rest of the world. Its award-winning programming provides a way for free Roku users to keep up with the news without access to a cable streaming program. The channel’s commitment to nonpartisan coverage may frustrate more ideological viewers, but for everyone else, it’s a beautiful solution.

best_free_roku_channels_skynews Photo via Roku

5) PBS Kids

The downside of living on a budget as a parent is knowing you might be missing out on valuable content for your kid. That’s why PBS Kids’ approach to streaming is so remarkable, giving a free 24/7 feed on its app without a subscription or login required. The free Roku channel offers safe and educational programming updated every Friday,. Along with its live programming, PBS Kids offers on-demand streaming, plus guides to let parents know a show’s intended age group and learning goals.

best_free_roku_channels_pbs_kids Photo via Roku

6) PBS

Can’t get PBS over the air? The Public Broadcasting Station has the same commitment to sharing its focused adult content as it does its children shows. Enjoy your favorite PBS shows like Frontline, NOVA, and Masterpiece Theater free in beautiful streaming quality. The free Roku channel includes thousands of videos for you to browse; the only limit is how much time you have to watch.

best_free_roku_channels_pbs Photo via Roku

7) Cartoon Network

To fully unlock Cartoon Network’s library you’re going to need a cable subscription, but there’s plenty of content to watch for free as well. Download the free Roku channel and look for the “Unlocked” section of the site. Here you’ll find all of the episodes available for streaming, including a host of Regular Show, Teen Titans, Adventure Time, and all your other favorite Cartoon Network shows. It may not be the complete package, but when you’re streaming on a budget, it’s enough.

best_free_roku_channels_cartoon_network Photo via Roku

8) Crackle

Sony’s Crackle is an ad-supported service that features plenty of big Hollywood blockbusters and excellent TV series. Along with classics like Talladega Nights and The Karate Kid, Crackle has started to dip its toes into original programming. Its series The Oath, Start Up, Snatch, and Hook’d are surprisingly entertaining slices of TV, arguably worth a spot on AM in another universe. The ads can sometimes be a little much, but for free programming, it’s a steal.

best_free_roku_channels_crackle Photo via Roku

9) Nosey

Nosey is the home for daytime trash TV on Roku. Collecting classic episodes of series like Jerry Springer, Cheaters, Paternity Court, and Maury, Nosey offers a buffet of chaos to help you feel better about your own life. Sure, it’s garbage, but it’s incredibly interesting garbage and a lovely throwback to daytime channel surfing of yore.

best_free_roku_channels_nosey Photo via Roku

10) The Roku Channel

You might be surprised to learn that Roku has gotten into the streaming game itself, offering a mix of news and movies for free to all users. Drawing its news from ABC and featuring movies like The Matrix trilogy and The Karate Kid, the Roku Channel is similar to other free channels on Roku. However, it runs better than almost any other streaming service on the device, in part because it’s made by the same people. When every other service fails you, The Roku Channel is there with the goods.  

best_free_roku_channels_roku_channel Photo via Roku

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11) Aljazeera

Roku’s free channel lineup lacks many news options, but Aljazeera is a surprisingly complete addition to any world news fan’s viewing. Featuring a 24-hour feed of Al Jazeera English, this channel features the latest episodes of Al Jazeera’s news programming and daily coverage. Al Jazeera is a world-respected news agency, and as long as you aren’t looking for American neoconservative voices, it’s a solid option for daily information.

best_free_roku_channels_aljazeera Photo via Aljazeera

12) Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR

There may not be a free MTV station for music lovers, but NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts provides some of the world’s best stripped-down live music each week. What makes Tiny Desk Concerts so special is there variety. One week you’ll find Erykah Badu’s soulful funk then the next Australian indie wonders Camp Cope, followed by T.I. or Yo-Yo Ma. Blurring the lines between pop, rock, hip-hop, and country, Tiny Desk Concerts serve as a sampler of what’s happening in music. It’s one of the best free channels on Roku. 

best_free_roku_channels_tiny_desk_concerts Photo via NPR

13) ChefsFeed

Winner of Apple TV’s App of the Year in 2017, ChefsFeed makes its way to Roku just in time for your next meal. This free cooking channel dishes up a mix of documentaries and culinary tips, satiating the hunger in your stomach left by missing Food Network.

best_free_roku_channels_chefsfeed Photo via ChefsFeed

14) America’s Test Kitchen

America’s best beginners cookbook has the most useful cooking channel on Roku, and it won’t cost you anything. Featuring episodes of America’s Test Kitchen, viewers watch a team of test cook workshop everyday recipes. What’s the best way to roast chicken? Ever wanted to make a ragu? They have you covered. Viewers also get treated to America’s Test Kitchen’s useful helper videos on best practices in the kitchen. If you want to learn how to cook, download this Roku free channel today.  

best_free_roku_channels_americas_test_kitchen Photo via America's Test Kitchen

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15) Shout Factory TV

Genre fans must immediately upon reading this paragraph stop what they’re doing and download the Shout Factory TV app for Roku. This channel being free is a true mystery, with a catalog overflowing with classic horror, sci-fi, and genre entries. And that’s just the free movies. The TV section has beloved lost sitcoms and, most importantly, subtitled episodes of all the original Super Sentai series. This is the show American studios turned into the Power Rangers in the U.S., and trust that the original is somehow even wackier. You’ll never be bored with Shout Factory TV.

best_free_roku_channels_shout_factory_Tv Photo via Shout Factory TV

16) Hoopla

Hoopla is a streaming service that works using your local library card. Hoopla users can check out up to 15 movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and records each month with their local library card number. The service isn’t supported by all libraries, but our tests using the Los Angeles Public Library have been incredible. We suggest saving a few credits each month for audiobooks, but when you’re looking for British TV or a movie to stream, Hoopla is a nice added bonus from the library.

best_free_roku_channels_hoopla Photo via Hoopla

17) BuzzFeed Original Series

It’s easy to make fun of, but BuzzFeed creates some of the best viral video content online. Worth It is an often hysterical look at excess, while the Unsolved series offers strong short-form paranormal and true crime stories. With 12 original series, most with a few seasons to check out, the BuzzFeed Original Series is an unexpected must-add for free Roku channels.

best_free_roku_channels_buzzfeed_origianl_series Photo via Buzzfeed

18) Viewster

Viewster is a service on the come up. Its live action section is largely terrible Z-horror films, but viewers who are interested in anime should make a point to check out the site. What it lacks in modern live-action films they make up for with important classic anime like Fist of the North Star, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, and Lily C.A.T. While it’s live-action section has a long way to grow, Viewster is a useful free anime source.  

best_free_roku_channels_Viewster Photo via Viewster

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19) Comet TV

Comet TV is a free top shelf sci-fi streaming TV station, offering a schedule of classic TV (Dead Like Me) and movies (The Brain that Wouldn’t Die). It’s like having the SyFy channel in your home, only if it was still called Sci-Fi and showed great old TV shows during the day.

best_free_roku_channels_comet_tv Photo via Comet

 

20) Popcorn Flix

At first glance, you might expect Popcorn Flix to be just another app for B- and C-grade crap. However, closer examination shows unexpected treasures like Secretary and John Ford’s Stagecoach. Thanks to a deal with Shout! Factory TV, Popcornflix also has a shockingly good horror section. If you’re willing to explore, there is plenty to love here, just expect to pass through a lot of modern John Cusack films you’ve never heard of to find them.

best_free_roku_channels_popcorn_flix Photo via Popcorn Flix

New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, ESPN, AMC, FX, Fox News, MSNBC, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube.

John-Michael Bond

John-Michael Bond

John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.