Roku is a brand of digital media players that can stream a near-endless amount of TV and video on demand.
They come in a variety of different models and specifications, but at their core they all operate in the same way: you add channels and watch the content you want. For this reason they’re a vital weapon in a cord-cutters armory.
There are actually two sources of channels. One is the Streaming Channels library on the device itself. Sure, there is more than enough in there to keep you entertained, but the Roku really comes into its own when you start adding private channels.
In this article we explain how to add private channels to your Roku, and recommend 20 of the best that we think you should install immediately.
How Do You Add Private Channels?
Before you can add a private channel to your Roku box you’ll need two things:
- The channel’s code (we have included the codes in our list below).
- A Roku account (they can be set up for free on the Roku website).
Once you have the code and have created an account, it’s easy to then start adding channels.
Head to your account portal and click Add a Channel. Insert the code, accept the on-screen confirmation, and you’re done. Yes, it really is that easy.
The channel should immediately appear at the bottom of the channel list on your Roku’s home-screen. If it doesn’t, you can force a refresh by going to Settings > System > System Update > Check Now on the device.
So, now you know how to add channels, you just need to know which channels to add…
1. Nowhere TV (H9DWC)
Nowhere TV is the quintessential private Roku channel. It has been running since 2010 and is the most-subscribed-to private channel by some distance.
It streams live TV and free-to-air channels from around the world. The channel line-up varies from time-to-time, but at the moment you can watch entertainment from most local Fox channels, government/politics channels like C-SPAN, and news from NBC and CBS, as well as lots more.
2. FilmOn (NMEVA)
FilmOn needs no introduction. It’s an Internet-based television service which licenses more than 600 global channels along with 90,000 video-on-demand titles.
It’ll give you access to the complete range of over-the-air UK TV channels, as well as a selection of other offerings that range from the incredible (“FilmOn Classic Films”) to the ridiculous (“UFO News”!).
If you create an account, you can also record one hour of video to playback at your leisure.
3. iTunes Podcasts (ITPC)
This channel will let you browse, add, and listen to the entire iTunes Podcast Directory directly from your Roku.
It’s surprisingly full-featured; it supports multiple search filters, playback recall, and favorites.
4. Television Shopping (TVS)
Admit it – there is something strangely addictive about watching wannabe big-shot presenters on QVC and ShopNBC trying to sell you food processors and exercise equipment.
You can enjoy hours of their attempts with this channel.
5. Dr. Bill Bailey Netcasts (DrBillTV)
Dr. Bill Bailey describes himself as a “computer curmudgeon”. He takes a regular look at all things tech, including the Internet, computers, handheld devices, and cloud computing.
Best of all, he serves it all up with a healthy dose of humor!
6. Saveur Magazine (Saveur)
If gourmet food and drink is your thing, you’ll probably already know about Saveur Magazine. It’s packed with recipes, cooking tips, travel food, and articles about culinary traditions.
Downloading this channel will deliver the magazine’s best video content straight to your device.
7. Cowboy Classics (cowboy)
Are you addicted to John Wayne, Butch Cassidy, and Tonto? The Cowboy Classics channel features hundreds of old westerns that’ll keep you going for months.
8. My Channels (MyChannels)
My Channels is a bit different to the other channels we’ve looked at so far. Its primary purpose is to help you keep your channel list organized. It’s a great idea – channel lists can quickly get out of control when you add a lot of content.
Features include the ability to group channels and to add favorites, as well as allowing for more channels to be displayed on a screen at any one time.
9. Great Chefs (greatchefs)
Great Chefs is a cooking show that used to be on PBS. It has been discontinued, but you can find all the episodes in one place on this channel.
You’ll be better than Gordon Ramsey in no time!
10. Popular Science (Popular Science)
All the videos are in short and digestible chunks, so it’s perfect to dip in and out of.
11. Neon Party Games (H2CLHP)
Neon Party Games does exactly what you’d expect, offering a selection of fun games that can be played by an unlimited number of people via your Roku box.
Download the accompanying smartphone app to use as the in-game controller.
(Note: the channel is still in beta, so could be occasionally buggy).
12. Al Jazeera (aljazzeraenglish)
Streaming a 24/7 feed of the Qatari network’s English-language news channel, this is probably the best and most reliable of the all the news channels.
Unfortunately, it is geo-blocked for U.S.-based users, but if you’re located elsewhere you can watch this at your leisure.
(Note: the channel code is not a typo!)
13. Dream Catchers Multimedia (XRGPXN)
Dream Catchers Multimedia focuses on documentaries, short films, and foreign films.
This is a brand new channel. It only went live on February 18 – but it’s already got rave reviews. More and more new content is being added every day.
14. Capital TV (capitaltv)
Capital TV brands itself as being the UK’s premier hit music station. That’s certainly debatable, but either way this is a live stream of their TV channel, with 24/7 music videos that’ll keep your partying until the small hours.
15. Space Time (CN6MRTG)
The NASA channel in the Streaming Channels library is one of the best stations available, but this private channel takes it to a whole new level.
It features some video content from NASA and from all of the other world’s space agencies, and it’s all neatly categorized into Featurettes, Deep Sky, Solar System, Space Travel, Historical, and Astrophysics.
16. Goats Live (GoatsLive)
No, this isn’t a joke – it really is a channel about live goats.
Sure, it sounds ridiculous, but bear in mind that it was recently listed in EarthCam’s “25 Most Interesting Webcams of 2015”. There is also an accompanying YouTube channel.
As one viewer said, you simply “can’t get enough of goats in a tree”.
17. Wilderness TV (fl821095)
Sticking with the theme of the outdoors, the Wilderness Channel features live videos from the National Parks Service and Parks Canada, as well as masses of TV content about the North American countryside.
It also includes occasional survival videos.
18. Update My Channels (UpdateMyChannels)
Update My Channels is another admin-based channel. If you install lots of private content, it can be annoying to either wait 24-hours or perform a power cycle just to get them to show up on your channel list.
This removes the hassle – open the channel and it will refresh your entire list. Simple!
19. Silent Movie Channel (ROLLEM)
We live in an age of crash-bang-wallop Hollywood blockbusters and big-budget cinema. Wouldn’t it be nice to return to the golden olden days?
Well, maybe not. But you can at least see what those days were like with this channel. It features hundreds of silent movies, featuring everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Greta Garbo.
20. Relax Time (VRQHQ)
Is day-to-day life all getting a bit too much? Do you wish you were relaxing on a tropical island somewhere? Sadly, Roku isn’t quite advanced enough to physically transport you there, but it CAN mentally transport you there.
This channel features loops of turquoise waters, palm trees, and gentle waves – as well as some other genial environments.
What Are Your Favorite Channels?
Those are our pick for the top 20 private Roku channels, but there are thousands more available.
The important thing to realise is that Roku private channels have something for everyone. If you’re not using them, you’re seriously limiting the enjoyment you can get out of your device and limiting its potential.
Which private channels do you watch every day? How do you discover new ones? Let us know all your tips, recommendations, and thoughts in the comments below.