Live TV on The Roku Channel

Quick Look: Live TV on The Roku Channel will show on your Roku home screen as a standalone app, but it's actually a shortcut to the Live TV Channel Guide within The Roku Channel. You don't need the Live TV on The Roku Channel standalone app to access the live TV streams, but it does save you a step in getting to them, which is useful if you're a regular viewer.

What is on Live TV on The Roku Channel

Roku's live TV streaming platform carries over 200 individual channels in categories that include News and Weather, Sports, Food & Home, Reality TV, Science fiction, True Crime, Kids' Entertainment, Spanish-language, and Music. You'll find many of the same channels here that are already available on Pluto TV and similar linear TV apps, such as This Old House, America's Test Kitchen, and Crime360. Also available are popular offerings like ABC News Live, NBC News Now, Outside TV, Comedy Central, MTV, CMT, BET, XUMO, and Game Show Central. In addition, you will also find channels that play only episodes of specific shows, including Hell's Kitchen, Bob Ross, Jack Hanna, Divorce Court, Family Feud, Deal or No Deal, and TMZ.

One option that sets Live TV on The Roku Channel apart from similar services is that you can subscribe to SHOWTIME, AMC+, STARZ, EPIX or Cinemax through Roku and watch their live streams on The Roku Channel without exiting to apps for those services. And if you have a Roku TV with an antenna, your local broadcast channels will also be shown within Roku's live TV programming grid.

How to use Live TV on The Roku Channel

This app will open on the channel guide, which uses the traditional cable TV grid format (see screenshot below). From the guide, you can scroll up and down through the guide with the directional arrows on your Roku remote and use the OK button to select a channel. You can also browse up to 7 days or more of upcoming programming, depending on the channel; the OK button will provide details on upcoming shows, or take you to full-screen viewing if you select a currently-streaming show.

Other functionality is not as obvious. While in full-screen view, the OK button will bring up details on the show you're watching, while the left directional arrow returns you to the programming grid. Be careful - the back button will dump you out of the live streams and put you the main menu in The Roku Channel if you're in full-screen mode. But if you're viewing the grid, the back button will take you back to full-screen mode.

Using the * button while in grid view will bring up channel filtering options, but only when you have one of the channel names highlighted. The * button has no effect when a program is highlighted, while in full-screen mode it brings up general Roku options such as closed-captioning. Unfortunately, channel filtering is limited, allowing you to only select from All Channels and Recently Viewed Channels. Unlike other live TV apps like Pluto TV, you cannot filter for or jump to categories like new, sports, movies, music, etc.

Yes, the user-interface needs some work - more consistency in button use and better channel filtering would be good. Also useful would be a live view of the current channel while the programming grid is on-screen. Roku would do well to model the Pluto TV interface, which provides a nearly-full-screen programming guide while the current channel continues to stream in the background. Pluto also offers the ability to "favorite" channels and create a watchlist. In Roku's defense, however, Pluto has been around a lot longer and Roku is playing catch-up in the live TV streaming arena. It's likely we will continue to see additions and improvements in the Roku Live TV app.

-- Information is current as of September 22, 2021

Developer's Channel Description: Enjoy instant access to more than 200 free, always-on TV channels anytime. With live news and weather, sports, food & home, reality TV, science fiction, true crime, kids' entertainment, and Spanish language programming, we have something for everyone—and it's all streaming free! Enjoy popular channels including ABC News Live, NBC News Now, AccuWeather, Vice, LOL Network, Hallmark Movies & More, This Old House, Crime 360, and many more.

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Live TV on The Roku Channel