How to watch live TV with Roku?

Boasting robust functionality and a user-friendly environment, Roku players have made a name in the streaming device industry. And they have a surprisingly low price tag, which makes them all the more popular among streaming service subscribers. In fact, by Q3 of 2020, there were 46 million active Roku accounts in total, which speaks volumes about the popularity of these streaming media players.

And if you’re looking to cut the cord, Roku players even let you stream live TV in addition to on-demand content. This post gives you more detail about Roku live TV – what it is, and which streaming services are available. Let’s find out.

What is live TV on Roku?

Roku live TV gives you access to programming from TV channels in your streaming subscription. That means you get to stream the program at the same time as it airs on TV. So, for example, you can watch breaking news on CNN as soon as it broadcasts. And you can watch the latest episodes of a currently-airing AMC show at the same time as it broadcasts on cable.

In other words, Roku live TV lets you watch programming from cable networks over the internet. And you won’t need a cable subscription for this. But you’ll need a subscription to a live TV streaming service.

Unlike on-demand content, this live TV programming is available to watch only during its specific airing time. And you won’t have the option to rewatch it unless it airs again or you’ve recorded it on your cloud DVR. Some streaming services also give you a replay feature that lets you rewatch the programming on-demand for a limited time.

Live streaming services on Roku

The Roku Channel Store offers several apps (or channels) to stream live TV using your Roku player. This includes dedicated Roku apps for networks like ESPN and FOX Sports as well as free news channels like Haystack TV and NewsOn. In addition, you can find several popular live TV streaming services in the Roku Channel Store:


With plans starting from $74.99/mo., Fubo gives you access to over 140+ live TV channels. Focusing mainly on sports, the service comes with popular channels like beIN Sports, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, FOX Sports, NBA TV, NBCSN, NFL Network, and many more.

It also gives you access to leading news and entertainment channels including, ABC, AMC, BBC World News, CBSN, Cheddar, FX, Nickelodeon, and more. That’s all your major locals CBS, FOX, ABC, and NBC. With a Standard fuboTV plan, you get 1000 hours of cloud DVR storage and 2 simultaneous streams. But the service lets you ramp up these features with add-on packages.

Hulu + Live TV

The Hulu + Live TV plan costs $69.99/mo. and lets you watch live TV programming from 85+ channels. It comes with a comprehensive channel package spanning across categories like entertainment, news, and sports. So you can use your subscription to watch live content from ABC, Big Ten Network, Cartoon Network, CBS, CNN, Disney, ESPN, FOX, NBC, and many more.

Your Hulu + Live TV subscription gives you unlimited hours of cloud DVR storage and two simultaneous streams by default. But you can upgrade these features with the add-on packages.


One of the most affordable live TV streaming options, Philo lets you watch live TV from 70+ channels for only $25/mo. The channel lineup mainly consists of lifestyle and entertainment networks with a couple of news options. This includes popular channels like AMC, Cheddar, Comedy Central, HGTV, Newsy, and Travel Channel, among many others.

Keep in mind that you can’t watch sports with this streaming service. On the plus side, you get unlimited cloud DVR storage to record your favorite live TV programs and save them for up to 30 days. And you can stream from up to three devices at the same time. Sign up to try Philo for free for 7 days.

Sling TV

Another affordable live TV streaming option, Sling TV plans start from $40/mo. But it has a slightly more limited channel lineup, with the most comprehensive plan giving you just 50+ options. The good news is that this lineup includes leading channels like AMC, BBC America, CNN, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN, FOX, NBC, and TNT.

The cloud DVR storage is much smaller compared to other options, allowing you to record only 50 hours of content. You have the option to upgrade this storage, but this will still only give you 200 hours. And the Orange plan allows just a single stream at one time while the Orange + Blue package gives you up to three.

YouTube TV

One of the most comprehensive live TV streaming services in the market, YouTube TV brings you 100+ channels for $72.99/mo. This includes major channels across categories, including ABC, CBS, CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Food Network, FOX, FOX Sports 1, HGTV, NFL Network, Nickelodeon, TNT, and many more.

Plus, you get unlimited cloud DVR storage to save your recordings for up to 9 months. And you can stream simultaneously from up to 3 devices.

How to start watching live TV channels on Roku

To start watching live TV on Roku, you’ll need to add your preferred live streaming service as a “channel” to your Roku account. Here’s how to start watching live TV channels on Roku:

  • Open your Roku account and select the “Search” option to look for the live TV streaming service of your choice. You can also browse through the “Streaming Channels” section if you don’t have a particular service in mind.
  • Select the service you want to use for live TV streaming and click on “Add channel” to add it as a channel to your Roku account.
  • Go back to your Roku Home screen and open the new channel you’ve added.
  • If you have an existing subscription to the service, log in using your credentials. Or sign up for a new one.

Each service will have a different layout. Some might have a “Live” or “On now” tab to discover currently-airing programs. Others might also have separate tabs for popular categories such as news and sports. Select any of those options and choose the programming you want to watch to start streaming. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the “Guide” section of the service and look for something to watch.

The final cut

With its slick layout and robust features, Roku is an excellent option to watch live TV. While you have several ways to stream free live TV with the service, you might want to invest in a streaming plan for more comprehensive access.

So consider signing up for a live TV streaming service such as DIRECTV STREAMFuboHulu + Live TVPhilo, Sling TVVidgo, and YouTube TV, and see which one works best for you.

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