Can You Watch Roku For Free?

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Q. I am a senior living on little income so I can’t spend a lot of money on television anymore. My nephew told me that there’s a thing called Roku that will give me TV for free. Is it free? Is there any cost at all? And can I put it on my Smart TV that my nephew got for me for Christmas? — Nancy, Hyattsville, Maryland.

Nancy, Roku is an Internet-based set-top box (or streaming stick) that can send video and audio channels over the Internet to your TV. That means you must have an Internet connection to use it.

You connect the Roku set-top to your TV using an HDMI cable and then capture the TV signals either using your wireless home Internet network or a direct wired connection. (The Roku streaming stick is connected directly into the HDMI port. If all this seems a little confusing to you, perhaps your nephew could assist.)

Now, to your question: Is Roku for free?

Not quite. The Roku streaming sticks and set-tops start at $29.99; some with features such as 4K TV can cost up to $89. You can buy one at Amazon.com, Walmart or other retail and online stores.

Roku is a device that allows you to watch and listen to channels that are available on the Internet. You’ll be happy to know that Roku does not require a monthly fee to use the stick or set-top once you buy it.

The other good news is that Roku offers a mix of free and subscription-only or PPV channels. The latter category includes Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Sling TV, Showtime, Hulu, Vudu, MLB.TV, HBO Now and the NFL Sunday Ticket, among many, many others. They either require a paid subscription or, in the case of Vudu, a Pay-Per-View fee for each movie you watch.

But Roku has quite a few free channels, too, such as the CW, YouTube, Pandora, CBS News, PBS, PBS Kids, Crackle, Pluto, WeatherNation, Sky News, TechCrunch, CNET, Popular Science, NASA, Vevo, IHeartRadio, TuneIn, Smithsonian Channel and Twitch.

Roku also has its own free channel, called The Roku Channel, which offers movies and TV shows for no extra charge.

You can also watch a number of on-demand versions of cable channels for no extra charge if you subscribe to them through your cable, satellite or telco TV service. This category includes HBO Go.

So, bottom line: Once you buy a Roku device, you can watch television for free. (Assuming you have an Internet service.)

You can get more information on Roku’s channel lineup here.

Nancy, hope that helps. Happy viewing!

You can get more information on Roku’s channel lineup here.

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— Phillip Swann

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