The WatchESPN app is available on Roku, providing viewers with live streaming access to ESPN networks, live events, and ESPN shows. If you're having trouble activating WatchESPN on Roku, we offer complete instructions below on how to add WatchESPN to your Roku channel list and how to activate the channel to watch live TV broadcasts of ESPN networks and sporting events.
[For more information about WatchESPN on Roku, visit our WatchESPN Roku channel page or read our article "How and where to watch ESPN programming on your Roku".]
Verify that you qualify for WatchESPN
Live streams of WatchESPN networks are available to those who subscribe to each network through participating pay TV providers, including some streaming TV services like Sling TV and DirecTV Now. Most major TV providers allow access but check this list to be sure yours is included.
What can you do if your provider is not listed? Sorry, but you won't be able to activate WatchESPN if you do not have a TV provider or if yours is not listed. ESPN does not offer standalone subscriptions to WatchESPN on Roku or on any other device. Also note that WatchESPN cannot be activated if you have a lower-tier TV subscription that does not include ESPN. (For answers to more frequently asked questions, see our FAQ section at the bottom of this article.)
Install WatchESPN on your Roku device
If you have not already done so, you will of course need to add WatchESPN to your Roku TV or Roku device. You can add WatchESPN through your Roku device or through your computer or mobile device.
Install WatchESPN through your Roku device - You can find WatchESPN by browsing through the Sports category after selecting Streaming Channels from your Roku's home screen. However, it may be faster to search for the channel. Select the Search option from your Roku's home screen, then start typing "watchespn." WatchESPN should appear as a result before you are done typing it in. Highlight WatchESPN, press OK on your remote, then select Add Channel and press OK again. Now return to your Roku's home screen and WatchESPN will be at the very end of your channel list.
Install WatchESPN through a web browser - You can add WatchESPN through the Roku website at channelstore.roku.com/details/34376/watchespn. Simply go to that link and click the Add Channel button. If you are not already logged into your Roku account, you will be prompted to do so.
But wait! If you want to immediately watch the channel, you will need to take another step. Channels added through the website don't show up on your Roku device until your device performs its once-daily automatic check for updates. If you do nothing, WatchESPN will show up on your device within 24 hours. Fortunately, you can easily force an update, which will download the channel to your device by following these prompts from your Roku home screen: Settings >> System >> System update >> Check now.
You can browse all WatchESPN content on your Roku immediately after adding the channel, but you won't be able to watch any videos or live TV until you activate it by authenticating your TV subscription. Follow these steps to activate WatchESPN on your Roku:
- Open the WatchESPN channel on your Roku.
- From the channel's home screen, scroll to the Help and Settings category at the bottom of the screen.
- Select "Activate Live TV" and take note of the activation code that is shown. You'll have only a few minutes to use that code, after which you will need to select the option to get a new code.
- Go to www.espn.com/activate on a computer or mobile device.
- Under Choose your provider, select your cable, satellite, or streaming TV service provider.
- Enter the activation code shown on your Roku.
- You will be asked to sign in with your TV service provider credentials. If you don't know your user name and password, you will need to contact your provider for them.
The WatchESPN channel should automatically activate within a few seconds. If you have more than one Roku, WatchESPN will be added to every Roku on your account, but you will need to activate WatchESPN on each Roku by following this process for each one.
Frequently asked questions about activating WatchESPN on Roku
FAQ #1: My TV provider is not listed, so how do I activate WatchESPN? - Sorry, but you cannot activate WatchESPN if you do not subscribe to a pay TV provider that allows their customers access.
FAQ #2: Will I be charged for WatchESPN when I activate it? - No, WatchESPN is free to those who already receive ESPN networks through participating TV providers.
FAQ #3: I don't subscribe to any pay TV services; can I purchase a WatchESPN subscription? - No, WatchESPN is not currently available as a paid subscription. It is only available to those who pay for ESPN networks through a participating TV provider. However, ESPN parent company Disney has announced that a subscription-based streaming service will be available through the WatchESPN app in early 2017. See this article for more information.
FAQ #4: Can I activate WatchESPN if I subscribe to a participating TV service provider, but my subscription does not include any ESPN networks? - Your TV subscription must include ESPN in order to activate live TV on WatchESPN.
FAQ #5: Sling TV is listed as a pay TV service that allows authentication. Why can't I activate WatchESPN if I subscribe to the Sling Blue service? - Sorry, but WatchESPN is available only to those Sling TV subscribers who have the Sling Orange service, which includes ESPN. Sling Blue carries FOX Sports instead of ESPN.