How to Watch Live TV On Roku

A guide for cord cutters

A Roku remote and USB stick.

 Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

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Cord cutting is growing more popular every day with the convenience and cheaper costs of broadband internet. Like a dying dinosaur, cable and even satellite services are quickly becoming a relic of the past. If you’re considering cutting the cord and eyeballing a Roku, there a few things you need to know before pulling the cable TV plug, most importantly, how to watch live TV on a Roku. You may be eager to cut that cord, however watching live television on your Roku is easier than you think.

The Big Question

For potential cord cutters, the biggest question is whether you can watch live TV on Roku. The simple answer is yes. You may have a couple of extra steps to get to a live stream, but the overall process is relatively painless.

Once you’ve figured out what channels you want, you can add those channels while using your Roku and even from your computer. There are hundreds of free and paid channels to entertain any style or topic of program. Below is a list of some of the top channels you can add for live TV on your Roku.

Free Live TV on Roku

Free streaming channels are rare and hard to come by. Many of the regional news stations have their own free channels with limited service. There are not any free live TV streaming services available, however using an OTA (over the air) antenna and some additional hardware, you can stream broadcast channels on your Roku.

There are a couple of different services available for turning OTA into streaming content. If you have an HD antenna and a PC TV Tuner, Plex offers a great interface for live streaming your OTA programs. If you need the flexibility of a DVR, Tablo TV, among others have options for both viewing your OTA content via your Roku plus a handy guide and DVR option.

If you subscribe to Sling TV, you can use the AirTV service if offered in your geographic region to view local OTA through their stream. Or you can try some alternate ways of streaming local programming. Either way, you don't have to miss all your favorite local programs.

Top Live TV Streaming Services

While there isn’t much in the way of free live streaming TV channels available, there are quite a few that offer a free trial period. This gives you a chance to test out the performance of the stream, the quality of the stream, and the content. If you don’t care about watching live, several channels provide streams that are typically delayed at least a day after the original airing.

Sling TV

One of the earlier contenders out there with multiple streaming channels is Sling TV, part of the Dish Network. Sling TV offers two main channel packages which both are slimmed down offerings you’d expect to see on cable. With the additional a la carte bundles, you can customize your live streaming channels in a variety of ways.

The two main packages, titles Orange and Blue, will run you about $25 per month. With the Orange package, you get 30 live channels along with video-on-demand. The Blue package gives you 40+ different channels for the same price. Depending on your location, you might have access to local FOX and NBC channels. Sling also gives you the option to combine both packages giving you 50+ channels.

The extra bundles run from $5 to around $15 for premium channels like HBO and Starz. Many of the bundles have themes such as the Lifestyle Extra which contains 12 channels such as fyi, VH1, and more. You have more variety to customize your live streaming. Sling TV has a free 7-day trial.

DirecTV Now

Another live stream option comes from another big satellite company, DirecTV. DirecTV Now offers two different live streaming packages, the Plus and the Max. Both of which have thousands of on-demand movies and TV shows.

The Plus package offers 45+ live streaming channels including HBO for approximately $50 per month. The Max package offers 60+ live streaming channels including both HBO and Cinemax for approximately $70 per month. Depending on your region, DirecTV also offers some local stations. You must check on their website to see if they are available in your area. DirecTV Now has a free 1-month trial which should give you plenty of time to try it out.

Hulu + Live TV

Not unknown to streamers, Hulu now has a live streaming service added to their already gigantic on-demand library. While their on-demand subscription is still available adding the live portion gives you access to 60+ live channels, including the usual premium movie channels like HBO and Cinemax. The price jumps dramatically from $5.99 for their on-demand to $44.99 for the basic Hulu + Live TV, this price combines the best of both worlds.

Hulu + Live TV also offers local stations depending on your local region. You must check on their website to see if your geographic area offers these local stations. Like Sling TV, Hulu + Live have a few channel bundles, including premium channels, that you can add on for an additional fee. Another bonus with Hulu is that they offer a couple of packages that remove ads from their on-demand library for a small fee.

YouTube TV

It seems only natural that the online streaming giant YouTube would get in the live TV streaming action. With YouTube TV, you have the standard fare of live streaming stations plus depending on your geographic region, local channels as well. Their standard live streaming package will run you about $50 a month. If you want additional sports or premium channels that will have additional costs.

YouTube TV is not to be confused with YouTube Premium. YouTube Premium gives you YouTube and YouTube Music ad-free and allows for offline availability as well. YouTube Premium, along with YouTube TV gives you access to YouTube Originals, in-house series, and movies made for YouTube.

PlayStation Vue

From Sony, the PlayStation Vue channel can be used on multiple devices, including their gaming consoles. As usual, they have several live streaming channel packages available. Sony doesn’t give you much time to test out their service with only a 5-day free trial, but with so many options, hopefully, you’ll have plenty of time to try it out. Plus, they even offer local channels depending on your geographic area.

The 4 live streaming packages they have are Access, Core, Elite, and Ultra. With Access, you get 40+ live channels along with their on-demand programming for around $45. The Core package has 70+ channels along with live sports for around $50. The Elite package has 85+ live streaming channels with live sports and movies for around $60. The Ultra gives you all their live streaming stations including sports and premium channels like Showtime, HBO, and more for around $80. They also have additional add-on packages starting at around $6.

fuboTV

Originally a sports only streaming channel, fuboTV expanded into a full-blown live streaming channel service provider. With over 90 channels in their standard package, which includes local stations depending on your geographic region, there should be something for everyone. You should be able to check out the many channels with their 7-day free trial.

fuboTV’s main package will hit you for around $55 per month unless you opt for their many extra packages. If you’re a sports buff, they have a vast variety of channels to pick from. Most extra packages will start at around $6 a month and should satisfy any TV lover out there.

Philo

One of the lesser known gems in the live streaming industry, Philo offers plenty of popular live streaming channels to keep you entertained. Their service is suited for the budget minded with 58 channels for only $20 per month.

There are only a couple of drawbacks for this reasonably priced streaming service. They do not offer any local channels or sports programming. If your main desire is for entertainment, Philo does the job without hurting your wallet. The other big plus besides the price is Philo offers unlimited programming that is stored for 30 days for no extra fee.