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The Roku Channel Provides Free Ad-Supported Streaming Movies and TV Shows

Roku recently launched its own free streaming movie channel to all owners of its modern streaming devices and TVs. Here’s what to expect.

Roku launched its own streaming movie channel in September. It is available to owners of modern Roku set-top boxes, streaming sticks, and TVs. The Roku Channel provides movies from major studios like Lionsgate, MGM, Sony Pictures, and others. TV shows curated from existing Roku channel publishers such as American Classics and PopcornFlix are included as well. Everything on the channel is free to stream, but it is ad-supported.

Update: Roku has added a lot more content since this article was originally published. It includes more movie and show titles, added free web access to anyone, and includes live channels that include news and sports.

The Roku Channel

This is a bare-bones app that provides movies and some curated content from other services. On the main menu, the movies are listed in different categories like Thrillers, Drama, Comedy, etc. It uses your Roku account to keep track of what you have watched and where you left off.

Roku Channel Menu

While the movies are ad-supported, when you select a flick, it launches directly into the movie. It doesn’t require that you sit through three to four commercials before seeing the movie. Most other live and on-demand services out there do require that annoyance. From my experience so far, the commercial breaks aren’t anything like you’d experience from a typical cable network, either. The breaks appear about every 30 minutes and run three to four commercials under two minutes. It’s nice to dive into a movie and not be interrupted with a commercial break until a half-hour in.

Roku Channel Movie Description

Unfortunately, it lacks a lot of features and functionality you would expect from a video streaming app. You get the basic playback controls to play the movies but it lacks simple things like being able to favorite titles and create playlists. It doesn’t even include search from within the app.

But to be fair the channel is still in its early days and Roku has plenty of time to make more additions to functionality. And in the end, it’s free movies so we can’t complain too much.

When it comes to content, the movie library needs more attention. Don’t expect to see any of the latest blockbusters on this channel. There is an okay amount of titles from different genres so there should be something of interest for everyone in the family. Another interesting category is for TV shows. It has old episodes of day-time talk shows from the likes of Sally Jessy Raphael, Geraldo Rivera, and Jerry Springer — those of you old enough might like checking those our for nostalgia sake.

Still, the library does need to be expanded. I’d imagine that will happen over time since the company has struck deals with some major movie studios.

The Roku Channel will work an any Roku device launched on or after June 2011. If you don’t see it yet don’t worry. The company is doing a slow rollout to different devices over the coming weeks. You will most likely find it under the New & Notable section in the Streaming Channels guide.

The Roku Channel New and Notable

If you’re the owner of a Roku device, how has your experience been with The Roku Channel so far? Leave a comment below and let us know what your opinion on what you find good or bad.


8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Ok, who’s really binging old Jerry Springer episodes??

  2. Bill Owens  

    How do you find all the available channels on Roku? I have a Roku but have not been able to find some streaming channels pictured here or that I know exit.

    • Your best bet is to search or browse them in the Channel Store on Roku’s site:

      https://channelstore.roku.com/browse

      Or you can browse channel on your device by going to Streaming Channels > Channel Store. There you can browse different categories like New & Notable, Top Free, Most Popular … etc.

  3. Nival  

    Cancelled my Roku this Summer since I live in Canada. What is offered on the Roku is shite. I was unable to add Acprn channel. After 3-4 emails to both Roku and Acorn where they both blamed each other for the problem decided not to be paying for thatRoku experience any further!

  4. Reverend Ike  

    The lack of a search function within The Roku Channel is absolutely ridiculous. It’s one of the most basic functions – if the not THE most basic function – for a movie channel.

  5. grady  

    Last night I was watching movie K-19 on Roku channel using streaming stick+. All was going well until I tried to go back a few scenes to catch dialogue that I had missed. After reviewing the scenes I tried to fast forward to where I had left off. But guess what, I had to endure the same ads over again. Once through that and continuing the movie, the streaming automatically and suddenly reverted to a point 20 minutes or more before. Still I continued to watch until the same thing occurred again. So after getting to a point about 80% of the movie, just reverted back to a point about 40% of the movie. At that point I was beyond frustration and just went to bed. Has anyone else experienced this? And must we always endure the ads over again if we rewind to a point before the ads played?

  6. Susan James  

    I never use the Roku channel because it lacks too much functionality. The layout is badly organized, there is no search feature and no way to set up a watchlist. On the live TV, if you join a movie or show in the middle, there is no way to tell what you are watching and no schedule to see what’s playing next. They offer HBO, Starz and some other premium channel subscriptions, but again within those apps it’s not possible to watch anything on demand because there is no way to create a watchlist. My opinion is that the release of the apps was rushed so that Roku could compete with the other services such as Amazon and Hulu, who offer add-ons with fully functional apps. I’ve contacted Roku customer service about this several times but they don’t seem very receptive in regard to trying to improve their service.

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