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Get started without paying a dime.
It’s easy to watch live TV on Roku. From its first device, the Roku DVP, to the high-end Roku Ultra, the Roku ecosystem has constantly evolved to provide the best streaming quality at a cost-effective price. Roku has the largest selection of streaming apps of any device, and it also has the most streaming live TV.
From mainstream services that everyone knows to a few more obscure free channels, Roku is a live streaming TV dream. Here’s everything you need to know to watch live TV on Roku.
How to watch live TV on Roku
Cost: $40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
Hulu with Live TV represents a beautiful middle ground for people familiar with streaming but new to streaming live TV. A Hulu with Live TV membership includes a full package of cable TV channels, along with a traditional Hulu streaming membership. Should you ever get sick of watching live TV, Hulu is waiting for you with more to watch. Not that you’ll run out of content on Hulu with Live TV. Its 50-plus channel package includes everything from Cartoon Network to ESPN, with every major news network to boot. If that wasn’t enough, Hulu with Live TV includes 50 hours of cloud DVR storage and on-demand shows not included with Hulu’s streaming service.
Cost: $39.99 for your first month and $44.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
FuboTV is an international sports fan’s best friend, a live TV streaming service that offers the best of soccer, NBA, and Formula-1 along with basic cable channels. While you’ll miss out on a few favorites like ESPN, FuboTV includes Bravo, MSNBC, SyFy, History, and other basic cable standards you’ve come to expect. Spanish speakers looking for a cheaper alternative should also consider the Fubo Latino package for $17.99 per month. This package comes with 15 Spanish language channels for a reduced price. If making sure you’ve got access to local channels is important to you, FuboTV deserves an extra look. While it doesn’t include ABC, it offers local NBC, Fox, and CBS channels for most of the U.S. market. Your membership even includes cloud DVR. (Here’s the complete FuboTV channels list.)
3) Sling TV
Cost: $25-$40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
Sling TV is a live streaming TV solution that lets users pick from a handful of inexpensive channel packages. Rather than getting a hundred channels that you don’t care about with an expensive cable package, Sling TV offers smaller packages of hot channels at a discount. Along with live streaming TV, Sling TV offers on-demand and cloud DVR for subscribers as well. Sling offers two packages, Sling Orange and Sling Blue, both of which cost $25 per month, along with the option to get both packages for $40 per month.
There’s some channel overlap, with both offering mainstays like Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, and CNN. That overlap makes the missing options from each package frustrating. Sling’s Orange package has three ESPN channels and Disney, but not Nat Geo, FX, local channels, FS1, or SyFy. The Blue package, on the other hand, has all of your favorite sports channels—except ESPN. You can solve the problem by getting Sling Orange + Blue. There’s so much overlap that buying both doesn’t feel like it adds much. Still, at just $40 per month for the combo package, getting everything with Sling TV won’t break the bank. (Here’s a complete guide to Sling TV channels.)
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4) Philo TV
Cost: $16 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
If you’re looking for streaming TV on a budget, no service compares to Philo’s 43-channel $16-per-month baseline package. Originally designed for students living in college dorms, Philo’s lineup is light on news, but it packs in some of the best channels in entertainment: AMC, BET, CMT, MTV, Comedy Central, and VH1. Philo comes with on-demand and unlimited DVR, with recordings lasting up to 30 days. No one offers more for less. However, the lack of news beyond BBC World News is frustrating. If you can get by without American news sources, Philo is a steal.
Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
Sony has put a lot of time and effort into PlayStation Vue, building a feature-rich streaming TV service that’s also easy to use. Bundling together live streaming TV, cloud DVR, and on-demand video, PS Vue offers the joys of a basic cable package without long-term contract hassles. Packages start at $44.99 per month for 45 channels, topping out at over 90 channels for $79.99 per month. Your package includes all the channels you would normally expect from a basic cable package, from ESPN to CNN. The service also includes local channels, though how many depends on your location. (Here are all of PlayStation Vue channels.)
6) DirecTV Now
Cost: $40-$75 per month (after a free 7-day trial)
When it comes to getting the most out of your entertainment dollar, DirecTV Now is the best streaming TV option around. With packages starting at just $40 per month for 65-plus channels, including local channels in most markets, no one offers as much as DirecTV Now. Your subscription also includes cloud DVR and on-demand shows and movies for when you don’t want to watch live TV. DirecTV Now also features the most comprehensive basic package around, so you won’t have to upgrade to get ESPN, MSNBC, Comedy Central, or History. Also, unlike traditional Direct TV, DirecTV Now doesn’t have any contracts or long-term obligations. (You can view the full DirecTV Now channels list here.)
7) YouTube TV
Cost: $40 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
In an oversaturated streaming TV market, YouTube TV sets itself apart by offering unlimited cloud DVR space and access to YouTube Red’s original programming. Its channel selection includes 60-plus channels, with a wide range of basic cable standards like AMC, FX, E!, ESPN, and Fox News. Best of all up to five people can watch simultaneously, with each user getting their own unlimited DVR. The only downside is YouTube TV isn’t available nationwide yet. (To see if you can use YouTube TV, check here.) At $40 a month and with unlimited DVR, it’s an incredible deal. (You can find the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
If you’re someone who wants local news but doesn’t want to subscribe to an entire service to watch it, NewsON would like a moment of your time. This free streaming channel allows users to watch their local news broadcast for free on their Roku, no matter how far from home they are. Users can watch their evening news live or after the fact via on-demand.
9) Haystack TV
News fiends looking for something beyond local broadcasts should give Haystack TV a shot. Aggregating local and international news from over 200 sources, HayStack TV offers a steady stream of 24/7 headline news straight to your TV, free of charge. Over time the channel learns what kind of news you watch and will personalize a channel for you. Whether you’re looking for general news or something more specific like science, technology, the weather or business, Haystack TV offers a refreshing change of pace.
If all you care about is the evening news, CBS News Live 24/7 is a free solution. The network draws from CBS News from around the world. However, if you look under the Live banner, you can find CBS’ live TV coverage, giving you everything from breaking news to election night coverage. It might not be a full channel, but CBS News Live 24/7 goes live when it matters most.
11) Pluto TV
Here’s a wild card for fans of live TV who don’t need name brand channels to have a good time. Pluto TV is a completely free streaming TV service that draws its content from internet streaming stations. Gathering together over 100 channels of news, nature, entertainment, music, and movies, Pluto TV feels just like a normal cable—just without most major channels. That doesn’t mean you won’t find incredible content.
Sports channels include everything from pro-wrestling to MMA and even Fox Sports coverage. You’ll find dozens of movie channels and comedy channels, special blocks for gamers, and incredible amounts of classic TV. There are even food and lifestyle networks. You’ll find live feeds of MSNBC, Bloomberg, NBC News, and more. After over a year of use, I still regularly fire up Pluto TV even with a pay-TV subscription in my monthly bills. If you want a massive TV package without paying a dime, Pluto TV is the only option. (For more, here’s our complete breakdown of how Pluto TV works and Pluto TV channels.)
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, Sundance TV, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, AMC, FX, Fox News, Freeform, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, FS1, TBS, TNT, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, Syfy, HGTV, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Bravo, Lifetime, Discovery, PBS, the CW, BBC, CSPAN, NBA TV, MTV, Comedy Central, Food Network, TLC, HLN, A&E, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.
Need more help? Here are the best Roku hacks, how to turn off your Roku, how to use Kodi on Roku, and how to make Roku screen mirroring work. If you’re looking for something to watch, here are the best Roku channels, Roku private channels, Roku free channels, and free live TV on Roku.
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John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, 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.