People often express confusion over whether a Roku channel has a fee, how much it costs, or whether it's a one-time charge or a subscription with a recurring fee. This confusion is understandable, as Roku channels carry a wide range of fee structures and payment options. Here is an explanation that will help you understand Roku channel pricing.
FREE OR FEE?
When adding a channel from the Roku Channel Store, you will be presented with one of three options: Add Channel, Buy $0.99 (or other price), or Subscribe $1.99/mo (or other price and time period). If the option is to "Buy", then you will be charged a one-time fee through Roku using the credit card or PayPal account that you set up when you registered your Roku. If you subsequently removed a payment method or registered without a payment method, you will need login to your Roku account and provide credit card or PayPal information before purchasing.
If the options is to "Subscribe", then you will be charged by Roku as explained above, and will be charged at recurring intervals as identified in the subscription price. This is usually monthly or annually, but be careful - there was once a channel (no longer available) that charged $0.99 per DAY until canceled. If you subscribe to a channel and later wish to cancel, you can do that from your Roku device. Just go to My Channels from the main menu and select the channel you wish to cancel; you will be able to cancel the subscription and remove the channel, or cancel the subscription and keep the channel on your device. After canceling a subscription purchased through Roku, the channel can still be used through the end of the subscription period if you keep it on your device. You can check whether you have any existing subscriptions by logging into your Roku account and selecting "Manage Your Subscriptions" under the "Manage Account" header.
If the option is simply Add Channel, then you don't need to worry about unexpected fees for adding or using the channel. You may be required to purchase or subscribe through a non-Roku website as discussed below, but you can safely add and open the channel for free. For added assurance that you don't accidentally purchase or subscribe to a fee-based channel, it is recommended that you set up your account to require the use of a PIN to make any purchases. This can be done through the PIN Preference setting under My Account on the Roku website.
Service May Require Additional Fees
Many channels can be added for free, but you will need to pay through a non-Roku website to gain access to all or some of the content. These channels will sometimes be marked in the channel store with the comment that "service may require additional fees", but many channels requiring additional fees don't carry this notice. Either way, you can be charged for these channels only by visiting a website and entering payment information there.
There are many variations on how these channels charge for service. Some are a one-time purchase, others offer monthly or annual subscriptions, and others charge an in-channel per-video rental or purchase fee. Many channels will also provide a limited-time free trial. All of them will require you to visit a website, establish an account, and then link your Roku to that account either by entering a code (shown on your Roku-connected TV) on the website or by logging into the channel from your Roku device using the username and password from the account you established with the content provider.
Most Roku channel providers are transparent with their costs and billing terms. Unfortunately, some providers make it difficult (or even impossible) to determine what the cost is until you've set up an account and provided them with contact information. The Roku Channel Store does not provide costs for channels that are not billed through Roku, but we try to provide this information on each RokuGuide.com channel page. You'll find this information in the Fees category on the bottom half of each page. Be aware, though, that pricing often changes - you should always verify the billing terms through the provider before providing any payment information.
Cable or Satellite Service Required
There are other channels that don't directly charge for service, but require you to subscribe to a participating cable or satellite TV service in order to access all available content. These are well-known networks such as A&E, Lifetime, ESPN, FOX, and Disney. Most of these channels offer a limited amount of free content to all Roku viewers, but you will have to authenticate your cable or satellite account in order to unlock all of the videos.
Sorry, but these channels do not offer direct subscriptions. They are provided as a free benefit to those who already pay for the channels through their cable or satellite service. These channels usually offer scores of past episodes of popular shows, or movies and events that were previously aired, all available as video on demand. You can watch what you want, when you want, instead of relying on a live stream or recording on DVR. Also, with your Roku you can watch these shows on TVs where you don't have a cable or satellite box, whether that's in the guest bedroom or in a vacation home or the house of a friend or relative.
Even though you need a cable or satellite subscription for these channels, not all cable and satellite providers allow access to the content on all of these Roku channels. This is not the fault of Roku - it's a decision by the individual service providers as to whether or not to allow customers' to access the content. If your provider is not listed when you try to authenticate, there isn't anything you can do to gain access - but you may want to contact your cable or satellite provider to let them know you would like them to offer access.
Roku Billing Questions and Disputes
If you see a charge from Roku, Inc. on your credit card or PayPal statement and you don't know what it's for, you can find your purchase history and a list of your subscriptions under My Account on the Roku website. The charge may be a recurring fee for a subscription channel that you thought was a one-time purchase, or someone else in your home may have installed a fee-based channel (see above for information on adding a PIN to prevent this). If you still have questions about the charge, contact Roku Technical Support for assistance.
If the charge is not from Roku, then you will need to contact the company that billed you. Roku has no responsibility for purchases made through third-party websites. However, if you suspect fraud from the owner of a channel available through Roku, or if the channel does not provide the content that was promised, you should notify Roku so that they can take appropriate action with the channel if needed. If you paid for a private channel, you're completely on your own - Roku does not endorse or support private channels.