The Roku Channel is a free, ad-supported streaming video service offered by Roku. Launched in 2017, it offers an extensive library of films, television series, and live news, among other content. As of my last update in September 2021, the platform had not only become a significant part of the Roku ecosystem but had also emerged as a leading player in the ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) space. Roku, Inc., the company behind The Roku Channel, is a pioneer in streaming technology, having launched its first streaming device in 2008. Based in San Jose, California, the company’s primary business is the sale of its streaming players, which allow customers to watch internet-delivered video on their televisions.
The Roku Channel Supportable Devices
The Roku Channel is available to anyone with a Roku device, but it can also be accessed via web browser and on certain smart TVs, mobile devices, and game consoles. This accessibility is part of Roku’s strategy to expand its content beyond its own devices and reach a broader audience.
The Roku Channel’s content library includes thousands of movies, TV episodes, and short-form videos from major studios, networks, and producers. It offers a mix of older, classic content and newer titles, providing viewers with a broad spectrum of entertainment options. Notably, The Roku Channel also features live and linear news channels from partners like ABC News and Cheddar.
In terms of navigation and user interface, The Roku Channel is designed for simplicity and ease of use. It uses a straightforward grid layout with content organised into rows by genre or type. Each title is represented by a thumbnail image, and users can click on these to get more information or to start watching.
One of the defining characteristics of The Roku Channel is its ad-supported model. Unlike subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, The Roku Channel is completely free to use. To monetise the service, Roku includes advertising throughout the content. This model allows Roku to offer free entertainment while also generating revenue.
Why Do You Need a VPN to access The Roku Channel from Australia?
As we’ve mentioned, The Roku Channel is only restricted to locations within the United States because of the content distribution policies. So, if you were to ever try and access The Roku Channel in Australia, you would get a message like “This site can’t be reached” or “The Roku Channel isn’t available to watch in your location.”
This is where Express VPN comes in handy. It will change your IP address to a region within your chosen server location. And because The Roku Channel restricts you by analysing your IP address, it would be unable to do that.
That’s 15 months for the price of 12. A single subscription simultaneously supports five devices and has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
So, if you get Express VPN, not only are you getting access to The Roku Channel but also American Netflix content and American Amazon Prime content.
How to access The Roku Channel from Australia using Express VPN
To access The Roku Channel from Australia using Express VPN, you’ll need to follow a few steps. Please be aware, though, that using VPNs to circumvent geographical restrictions can violate the terms of service of some platforms, and it’s important to consider the legal and ethical implications.
Here’s how you can go about it:
Step 1: Purchase and Set Up Express VPN
- First, you need to purchase a subscription for Express VPN. Go to their official website and choose a plan that best suits your needs. Express VPN offers various subscription plans, typically monthly, semi-annually, and annually.
- After you’ve chosen a plan, create an account with Express VPN. You’ll need to provide an email address and select a payment method.
- After your purchase, you’ll receive a confirmation email. Follow the instructions in the email to set up Express VPN on your device.
Step 2: Install Express VPN on Your Device
- Depending on the device you’re using, the method of installation will vary. If you’re using a Windows or Mac computer, download the Express VPN application from the website and install it.
- If you’re using a mobile device, you can download the Express VPN app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
- Once you’ve installed the app, sign in using the account details you created during the subscription process.
Step 3: Connect to a US Server
- Open the Express VPN application on your device.
- You’ll see a button that says “Choose Location”. Click on this button, and a list of server locations will appear.
- Choose a server located in the United States, as The Roku Channel is primarily accessible from there.
- After you’ve chosen a US server, click the “Connect” button.
Step 4: Create a Roku Account
- To access The Roku Channel, you’ll need a Roku account. Go to the Roku website and click on “Sign up”.
- Enter the required information and create your account. Ensure your VPN is connected to a US server while doing this, as Roku may block sign-ups from non-US IP addresses.
Step 5: Add The Roku Channel to Your Roku Account
- Once you’ve created your Roku account, go to the Roku Channel Store.
- Search for “The Roku Channel” in the Channel Store.
- Click “Add Channel” to add The Roku Channel to your account.
Step 6: Access The Roku Channel
- You should now be able to access The Roku Channel from your Roku account.
- Make sure you’re still connected to the US server on your VPN when you want to watch The Roku Channel. If you’re not, you may not be able to access the content.
This process can be complex and involves multiple steps. However, once you’ve done it once, it will be easier to repeat in the future. Remember to always use VPNs responsibly and respect the terms and conditions of the services you use.
The Roku Channel Pros and Cons
The Roku Channel is a free, ad-supported streaming service that provides access to movies, TV shows, live news, and sports, without a subscription. It’s an excellent supplement to subscription-based services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. However, like every product or service, it has its pros and cons.
Pros of The Roku Channel:
- Cost-effective: The Roku Channel is free to use. This is the primary advantage over many other streaming services. You don’t need a monthly subscription to access the content, which makes it a cost-effective choice for budget-conscious viewers.
- Variety of content: The channel offers a broad range of content, including movies, TV shows, news, and even live sports. There’s something for everyone, from classics and old favourites to contemporary hits. This diversity makes it a valuable addition to your entertainment options.
- Accessibility: You can access The Roku Channel not just on Roku devices, but also on other platforms such as web browsers, iOS, and Android devices. This flexibility lets you watch your favorite shows or movies anytime, anywhere.
- Ease of use: The Roku Channel has a user-friendly interface, making it easy to navigate and find the content you want. It also allows for a smooth streaming experience without the need for technical know-how.
- Kid-friendly options: The Roku Channel features a dedicated section for kids, providing a safe environment for children to enjoy age-appropriate content.
- No account required: You can stream movies and TV shows on The Roku Channel without creating an account, which can be a boon for those who prefer not to share personal information.
Cons of The Roku Channel:
- Ad-supported: As a free service, The Roku Channel supports itself with ads. This means you’ll have to endure commercial breaks during your viewing, which can disrupt the viewing experience. The frequency and length of these ads can be significant, which might not sit well with users accustomed to ad-free streaming.
- Limited content compared to paid services: Although The Roku Channel does offer a good variety of content, it doesn’t match up to the breadth and depth of content available on subscription-based services like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
- Content rotation: Movies and shows on The Roku Channel are not permanent. They rotate in and out, so if there’s something specific you want to watch, it might not always be available.
- No original content: Unlike Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services, The Roku Channel does not produce original content. This lack can make the service less appealing to those who enjoy exclusive shows and films produced by the streaming services themselves.
- Quality of streams: The quality of streams can vary, and not all content is available in HD or higher resolutions. This variability can detract from the viewing experience, especially for those who value high-definition viewing.
- No offline viewing: Unlike some paid streaming services, The Roku Channel does not offer the ability to download content for offline viewing. This lack can be inconvenient for users who want to watch content in areas with poor or no internet connection.
In recent years, Roku has also begun adding original content to The Roku Channel. This move followed a trend among streaming platforms to differentiate themselves and attract viewers with exclusive shows and movies. Roku’s approach to original content is somewhat unique, however, as the company has opted to acquire shows that were previously commissioned but never aired due to various reasons, such as the Quibi shutdown. As the streaming market continues to evolve, The Roku Channel has proven to be a crucial component of Roku’s business strategy. It not only provides a source of ad revenue but also helps to drive sales of Roku devices by enhancing the overall Roku user experience. In summary, The Roku Channel is a free, ad-supported streaming service that offers a wide range of content, from classic movies and TV shows to live news and original series. It reflects Roku’s broader strategy to expand beyond hardware and become a significant player in the content streaming space.
In summary, The Roku Channel is a good supplement to other streaming services, especially for viewers on a budget. Its free content, ease of use, and variety make it a solid choice. However, its reliance on ads, limited and rotating content, and lack of original content may not satisfy all viewers.