Using Roku Channels: Everything You Need to Know
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You should be fairly familiar with Roku devices by now. Alongside over-the-air antennas What Can You Watch Using a TV Antenna? What Can You Watch Using a TV Antenna? What if there was a cheap, legal way to gain access to many of the big networks? You'd probably lap it up. Well, it turns out there is! Step forward the trusty TV antenna. Read More , they’re one of the best gadgets you can buy if you’re looking to cut the cord from your cable company.

Roku devices are easy to set up How to Set Up and Use Your Roku Streaming Stick How to Set Up and Use Your Roku Streaming Stick So, you have bought a new Roku Streaming Stick and are wondering what to do next. We're here to help, with the complete guide to setting up your new Roku Streaming Stick. Read More and provide you with a range of content from many of the top streaming services Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Which Should You Choose? It has been years since we've compared heavy-hitting streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And with changes in pricing, content, quality, and interface, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. Read More and TV networks.

This content is delivered via Channels, which is Roku-speak for apps. The channels are divided into two groups: public (available through the Channel Store) and private (only accessible via a unique code).

Confused? Don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about using Roku channels.

What Is a Roku Channel?

The word “channel” is a misnomer. Roku channels aren’t like typical TV channels. You can’t flick between them to channel surf, and each channel hosts a vast amount of content. Really, it’s easier to think of Roku channels as apps.

You will find approximately 4,500 official Roku channels in the Channel Store. Combined, they’ll give you access to more than 450,000 movies and TV episodes. There are also several thousand private channels that you won’t find through the usual methods. More on these shortly.

roku channels

Unfortunately, some of the channels are geo-blocked — you won’t be able to access them outside of their intended country. Even if you can install them, no content will play. You can work around the problem by installing a VPN on your router and creating a new Roku Account in the desired country, but a step-by-step guide of the process is beyond the scope of this article.

Finding Roku Channels

Finding Roku channels is quite straightforward, but the process differs depending on whether you’re hunting for public channels or private channels.

Public Roku Channels

Depending on your location, there are two ways to find public channels. Everyone can use their Roku device, while only people based in the United States can use the web store.

To use your Roku device, just select Channel Store from the menu on the left-hand side of your screen. You can then browse the channels by category.

roku channels store

To use the web store, go to channelstore.roku.com. The categories are displayed in the ribbon along the top of your screen. Scroll down to browse the various channels.

Private Roku Channels

Finding private channels is slightly more complicated. Our guide to the best private Roku channels 20 Private Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now 20 Private Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now 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. Read More is a good place to start, but in truth, we barely scratched the surface of what’s available.

Thankfully, there are a few internet sites that are dedicated to logging and cataloging private Roku channels. Here are three of the best:

  • RokuGuide.com: RokuGuide keeps a directory of up-to-date private channels, but also regularly publishes “best of” lists for various categories and genres. At the top of the page, you’ll find separate lists for private and public channels.
  • StreamFree.tv: StreamFree also does an excellent job of cataloging the channels. Rather than publishing everything, it restricts the list to the best 200 available at any one time.
  • RokuChannels.tv: RokuChannels is arguably the most polished of the three sites. It has a Featured and a Latest list, so you’ll always be able to stay abreast of what’s hot.

Installing Roku Channels

OK, so you’ve found some channels you want to install on your Roku device. Now what?

Again, the process for installing channels differs depending on whether you’re installing public channels or private channels.

If you’re installing a public channel, it’s as simple as pressing Add Channel on the channel’s listing. However, if you’re installing a private channel, the process is more complicated.

First, you need to make a note of the private channel’s code. You will find it listed on the three sites I mentioned earlier. You can also occasionally find codes on public forums like the Roku subreddit on Reddit. Next, log in to your Roku account on a computer. Just navigate to my.roku.com/account and enter your credentials.

Scroll down the page and go to Manage Account > Add channel with a code. Enter the code you wrote down earlier and press Add Channel.

roku channels manage account

Click OK on the warning screen, and the site will show you the channel you’re about to add. Verify it’s the one you want, and click Yes, add channel.

roku channels add private

So far, so good. However, if you now return to your Roku and try to locate your channel, there’s a good chance it won’t be there. Why not? Well, Roku says it can take up to 24 hours for new private channels to appear.

Luckily, there’s a workaround. On your Roku device, go to Settings > System > System Update > Check Now. Give the process a couple of minutes to run, and you should see your new app in Home.

Reordering Channels

For all the great features packed into your Roku device Get More Out of Your Roku With These 10 Tips Get More Out of Your Roku With These 10 Tips OK, so you've got your Roku up and running, but you're probably not maximising its usefulness. These 10 tips should help you get the most out of your Roku. Read More , there are also some annoyances. One of them is how channels are displayed on your Home screen.

If you have installed a lot of channels, navigating them all can quickly become a nightmare. There’s no way to group channels into customized folders or sort them by category, most used, alphabetically, or by any other useful order.

roku channels reorder

The best you can do? Reorder the channels How to Rearrange Your Roku Channels in 4 Easy Steps How to Rearrange Your Roku Channels in 4 Easy Steps If you have a lot of Roku channels, keeping them organized is made much easier when you know how to rearrange them to your liking. Read More in a way that makes sense to you.

To reorder channels, Click on Home and highlight the channel you want to move. Then, press star on your remote and select Move Channel. Using the D-pad on your remote, move the channel into its new spot, then press OK.

Deleting Channels

Deleting channels is easy. Click on Home and highlight the channel you want to remove. Press the star button on your remote, and choose Remove Channel from the menu.

Before removing a channel, however, keep in mind that (unlike the Google Play Store or Apple App Store) Roku does not maintain a centralized list of channels you’ve installed. Once you’ve removed a channel, it’s gone from your account forever.

If it’s a public channel, this might not be an issue — you should be able to find it again without too much difficulty. However, if it’s a private channel, the only way to reinstall it is to relocate the channel’s unique code. That might be easier said than done.

The Legality of Channels

It would be wrong of us to explain everything there is to know about Roku channels without discussing their legality. If you’re new to the world of Roku it would be wise to educate yourself as to the legality of Roku channels.

First, let’s clear up a common misconception: if you can find the channel in the official Roku Channel Store, it’s 100 percent legal. It has passed Roku’s internal testing and the company has deemed it legitimate.

Private channels are a different story. Indeed, the whole existence of private channels is somewhat accidental. Roku only made private channels a “thing” so developers could test their apps before launching them in the main store.

roku channels piracy
Image Credit: scanrail/Depositphotos

These days, Roku has become a hotbed of illegal content through private channels. Many of the apps even require a monthly subscription.

However, Roku has, of late, been taking a much heavier hand with such apps. Many illegal app developers have abandoned their projects and taken their work to Android TV instead.

So, if you’re hoping to find a trove of pirate content on Roku, prepare to be disappointed. And under no circumstances should you hand over money to the developer of an illegal app.

What Are Your Favorite Roku Channels?

We hope this piece has explained everything you need to know about Roku channels. If you’ve followed along, you should now have a good handle on how to find, install, organize, and delete Roku channels.

Only one question remains: which channels should you install? And that’s where you come in. We’d love to know about your favorite Roku channels. Both public and private. What makes these Roku channels so good? If they’re private channels, be sure to share the channels’ codes so we can check them out ourselves.

You can leave all of your suggestions, recommendations, queries, and codes in the comments section below!

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  1. Josephine e Terry
    September 27, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    What happened to my channels. Cooking channels. F oodnetwork. Hgtv.fyi and dyi.

  2. Renee Johnson
    September 27, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    We like to watch CBS , NBC, ABC, HISTORY, DISCOVERY, AND HGTV. We using comcast th stream some ofthe channels since we couldn't find them anywhere else. I would lile to get rid of comcast completely and use spectrum for internet and find all my shows on Roku. That would bring my bill down to $40.00 a month!