Streaming media devices like Rokus are making expensive cable packages a thing of the past. After all, why shell out a huge sum on a monthly basis when a one-time payment device like Roku offers ninety-two different channels devoted to both television and movies (that’s without even including the channels devoted to food, weather, science, etc.)? Sure, many of those channels are subscription-based, but even those subscriptions are considerably cheaper than your average cable package.
So whether you’re thinking about cord-cutting, or if you’ve already made the jump and replaced your cable package with a Roku, or if you’re keeping your cable package and just want to take advantage of the extras have to offer, it’s worth knowing what the best channels your new toy has to offer, right?
A Brief Disclaimer
While any article about the best channels for television on Roku ought to include a discussion of Netflix, and Hulu Plus, we’re going to be focused on some lesser-known Roku channel options in the hope of bringing some deserved attention to them. We’re also hoping to offer some variety for those looking to expand their Roku experience beyond mainlining movies on Netflix.
Best Roku Channels for TV
Yahoo Screen – Hey, these guys had a big week: Why not help them celebrate with a top spot on the list? We’d be lying if we said we’ve spent a lot of time on Yahoo Screen, but right now, they’re the ones airing new episodes of Community for the next 10 or so weeks. In between that, there are good clips from Comedy Central to pass the time and new shows (including one from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig) on the way. And it’s free. Get on it.
Crackle - This channel is sort of notorious for having jarring commercial interruptions, but if you can stomach sudden commercial breaks, there’s plenty of terrific, free content to be enjoyed. There’s a long list of movies and some classic television (good luck finding episodes of Seinfeld or Newsradio streaming anywhere else) and some good original shows like Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to Dan Patrick’s Sports Jeopardy.
A&E – If reality shows and wild melodrama are more your speed, than the A&E app is just right for you. You want full episodes of Duck Dynasty? How about Storage Wars? Want to see Vera Farmiga vamp it up on the Psycho-prequel Bates Motel? Than the A&E Roku channel is what you need to download. There are even exclusive never-before broadcast clips available, if you need the pot sweetened a little.
FXNow – We’re tempted to just say EVERY SIMPSONS EVER, and just leave it at that, but amazingly, FX Now has so much more to offer than that. In case you haven’t noticed, FX has some of the best dramas and comedies going now, so if you want to stay current with The Americans or the sadly departing Justified or the upcoming season of Louie, or the current season of Archer, this is the channel for you. Oh yeah, and having every episode of The Simpsons at your fingertips is the sort of thing that makes owning a Roku so worthwhile.
HBO GO – While we’re on the subject of channels that serve as a supplement to your cable package, meet the granddaddy of them all. You will need an HBO subscription to take full advantage of HBO GO, but what a treasure trove this channel offers.
Leaving aside the bounty of recent movies offered, as well as every episode of current, hugely popular series like Game of Thrones and Girls, HBO GO offers their full back catalog. That means The Wire, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Band of Brothers, Boardwalk Empire, True Detective and many, many more are presented in their entirety! And with the upcoming innovation of HBO Now, you won’t even need a cable subscription (or a friend’s *wink) to access all of this phenomenal television.
Showtime Anytime – Here’s another premium cable channel with plenty to offer beyond a lengthy list of movies available anytime. Homeland, The Affair, Penny Dreadful, Masters of Sex, Ray Donovan, Shameless, and Episodes are just a few of the addictive series that can be yours whenever you want. Of course, you’ll need a cable subscription for this one, but we think that’s worth seeking out.
YouTube – This one may seem like an unlikely entry, since YouTube doesn’t strictly broadcast TV. But, of course, we don’t need to explain YouTube to you. The word “endless” almost seems insufficient when describing the content on YouTube. Aside from the fact that, at FlashRouters, we publish an ever-changing monthly list of free movies streaming on YouTube, there’s clips of all stripes on YouTube, from premium cable dramas to network TV sitcom staples. This is a no-brainer. Add YouTube to your Roku channel list.
Though some of these channel’s virtues can only truly be appreciated when used as a supplement to a cable package, many of them achieve the goal of allowing you to eschew a cable package altogether (especially when coupled with a Netflix or Hulu Plus account, but as we said, we’re not getting into that here).
But whether you choose to keep your cable package and add a Roku to enjoy the extra viewing luxuries provided by FX Now and Showtime Anytime, or if you cut the cord and rely on channels like Yahoo Screen and Crackle to provide a considerably cheaper and equally enjoyable substitute, it’s clear that Rokus are a must-have for any serious devourer of television!
Have a favorite Roku Channel for television of your own that we missed? Or do you just want to discuss some of the ones we mentioned? Let us know down below!