Best Roku Channels for 2016

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It’s a new year and time to review the Best Roku Channels for 2016. As always I stress this is hardly a listing of all the good or great channels the Roku has to offer. It is instead a list of channels worthy of your consideration and likely more than enough to form the backbone of your Roku entertainment experience.

You may notice this list doesn’t differ terribly from last year’s suggestions. This is largely due to the fact that while other channels have appeared these channels have either stayed well ahead of the pack with quality and/or quantity. Or maybe they have improved over the last year enough to stay in the top listings.These channels are an assortment of free channels, channels with subscriptions and channels that are region restricted to certain countries (often if they are region restricted it is restricted to the US).

As always though where there is a problem there is a solution and this situation is no different. Using SmartDNS services like the one offered by Overplay we can remedy this misfortune into opportunity! To discover the solution to setting up an American Roku account and accessing this additional content (and channels) read my guide here.

As for whether or not to get SmartDNS or VPN an oversimplified way to think of them is in terms of basic and premium service. SmartDNS is all that is necessary for most/all of Roku reasons however VPN ensures no issues with sign-up websites and makes you appear digitally as geo-located in the US to most all internet websites and services.

Start with “Unlocking US Content”:

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American Roku Account Guide

Now without further ado, the Best Roku Channels for 2016 are:

Netflix

Netflix

Netflix has a much better interface and the Netflix Only content is better than ever with shows like Daredevil, Marco PoloSense8 and Stranger Things for adults and Dragons – Race to the Edge (“How To Train Your Dragon” spinoff TV series) and Voltron: Legendary Defender for the kids. Also new Netflix only movies like The Do Over, documentaries like My Beautiful Broken Brain and even it’s first ever Talk Show Chelsea among many others! I still strongly believe that Netflix is the essential channel for any ‘cord-cutting’ Roku user.

US/CDN/Others – Subscription Based

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Hulu

Hulu Plus Channel Roku

HuluPlus is another great channel that keeps on giving and while it is often compared with Netflix this really isn’t fair. Netflix offers over twice the content library as Hulu and has much better ‘exclusive content’ and no ads. To get Hulu without ads you need to opt into the $11.99/month package. Despite this unfavorable comparison for Hulu, the service is really the only reliable and comprehensive provider of new and current TV shows (mostly airing one day after original airing). Netflix in comparison often doesn’t air new seasons of TV series until sometime after the current season is done. So in short if you’re a movie buff or content-binger choose Netflix. If you prefer current TV choose HuluPlus. Of course you could choose both and cut the cable/satellite, after all both Netflix & HuluPlus together range from $16-$21/month.

US Only – Requires Overplay for Non-US – Needs US Roku Account – Subscription Based

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YouTube

YouTube Channel Roku

This channel needs no explanation! I will point out however that YouTube is awesome on the Roku for several reasons. Firstly there is now an ever growing collection of videos on YouTube that are 1080p and 4K. Also it can now be an excellent way to access news content and viral phenomena! Whether you’re into cute dog videos, funny cat videos or binging on The X Factor and American Idol videos YouTube has you covered here also. This is all in addition to the collection of entertainment in so many various forms you’ll likely find it difficult to stop watching!

US/CDN/Others – Free

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Plex

Plex Channel Roku

The Plex channel is a personal favorite and I believe a core channel for the Roku. This is because of it’s ability to organize all the media located on your computer! Allowing you to have TV shows and movies organized into a beautiful user interface which beats anything cable/satellite have to offer and it remembers where you left off so it makes entertainment quick, convenient, beautifully displayed and easy to access! Keep in mind I said the media on your computer, so this can be anything from saved TV series, movies, music and also home videos!

US/CDN/Others – Free on Roku

Get Roku Channel – Setup Plex


SlingTV

SlingTV

The SlingTV channel offers a service similar to the cable/satellite setup we are used to seeing. The SlingTV service offers a few base channel packages and add-on channel packages for things like sports, news, movies and HBO. If you are really trying to cut the cord from your cable or satellite subscriber but are desperately wanting your live sports and news coverage than SlingTV is a important service to consider. The only two downsides are they have commercials like cable/satellite TV and they are packaged in similar style with a similar slightly more competitive price-range. The best parts are it can be canceled at a moments notice with no penalty fees and offers some on demand content along side the live content. Also being a provider of a diverse selection of reliable high-quality live programming makes SlingTV a rare breed worthy of consideration by all that use the Roku or other such devices. I have instruction on how to setup SlingTV if you’re in Canada, here.

Includes Live Sports (ESPN, etc.) and Live News

US Only – Requires Overplay for Non-US – Needs US Roku Account – Subscription Based

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Amazon Video

Amazon Video

Amazon Video is another great Roku channel and streaming service in general, plus with Amazon Prime you get access to a bunch of bonus features and services that make the price of subscription a great value. There are however a few things about their service that make the channel much less than a Netflix. Primarily all the to easy access to pay-per-view content. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing bad about offering some ‘premium’ content with a separate price tag, its the way they mix the free and pay-per-view content together that disappoints. You can be looking for something free and easy to watch only to find the thing you settled on is gonna cost $2.99. Again not a huge issue just not as simple and elegant an experience as some other services offered via the Roku. That being said the content is great and often recently aired content is offered, however usually at an additional cost.

US Only – Requires Overplay for Non-US – Needs US Roku Account – Subscription Based

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USTV Now

USTVNOW Roku

The USTV Now private channel on the Roku is another of the cable-like offerings available to the cord cutter. They offer 28 channels as well as a free trial which gives access to 7 of those channels. With quick access to channels like NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, ESPN, National Geographic, Syfy and more it’s an awesome service well worth the subscription cost starting around $19 USD. This is an excellent service to try out when Super Bowl is airing or any other major sports competition as they often have the channel that covers the live airing of the event.

Includes Live Sports (ESPN, etc.) and Live News

US/CDN/Others – Subscription Based

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Pandora

Pandora Channel Roku

Pandora is a music channel and unique on this list in that it is only a music channel. Think tailored radio that follows the sounds you choose and creates in real-time a radio station like experience with similar artists and music. Not likely to be the most used channel but excellent way to creatively get the music you like quick, free and on demand. This channel and service is great for parties or just chill nights in.

US Only – Requires Overplay for Non-US – Needs US Roku Account – Free

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Nowhere TV

Nowhere TV

Nowhere TV is another private channel that offers a large catalog of live and on-demand content (be warned you are likely to experience glitches when exploring the content). The service is free and easy and contains some content that can’t be found elsewhere on the Roku. For example for Canadian Roku users who are disappointed with the lack of Canadian news content on the Roku there is the Global News sub-channel within NowhereTV. This sub-channel offers older news casts with the most recent one being only one day old. Not perfect but its more than most any other channel offers for free local Canadian news.

US/CDN/Others – Free

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CBS News

CBS News Live

This channel is really a self explanatory channel and service as it’s much of what you get via cable/satellite. This channel offers live news 24/7 with intermittent breaks for commercials. It offers a casual news watcher the ability to stay informed without having to work hard to find the latest news on what the nation/world is talking about.

US Only – Requires Overplay for Non-US – Needs US Roku Account – Free

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FilmOn

FilmOn Channel Roku

This service is free and there is a lot that it has to offer in the way of free quality material. There are airings of some of your favorite shows like Family Guy, Simpson, etc. There is also some BBC News coverage and much more all available to stream for free. As far as private channels for the Roku go I would say this is one of the best by far in terms of quality content reliably offered and continuous service over at least the last few years. There is even some local Canadian news offered live via this service, although only for Regina and a couple other cities (nothing in southern Ontario).

US/CDN/Others – Free

Get Roku Channel – Subscribe


 

HBO Now

HBO NOW

HBO Now is a stand alone channel/service that offers subscription based access to all that HBO has to offer. This includes on-demand content of previous seasons of their hit shows like Game of Thrones, John Oliver Tonight and many more while also offering live streaming of new airings for all the current TV shows in their line-up. This is an excellent quality service and for the content and live-airings the subscription price is arguably warranted. The down side with HBO Now is that getting this service in Canada is still tricky. If you like HBO material though I wrote a guide to getting SlingTV in Canada that is available here. It just so happens that HBO live and on-demand content is a sub-package offered by SlingTV, so basically where there is a will there is a way.

US Only – Requires Overplay for Non-US – Needs US Roku Account – Subscription Based

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2 thoughts on “Best Roku Channels for 2016

  1. HELP !!! I use Roku to see movies on ACORN.

    ACORN RECENTLY ADDED SEASON 2 for STRIKING OUT and I can’t get ot on my TV. It only allows me to see season 1. They advised me to disconnect my ROKU and unplug it for 30 seconds and then hook it up again. I did this and I still can’t access SEASON 2.

    Please help me.

    • Hello James,

      It should be there if you can view Season 1 then you should see Season 2. Try deleting the ACORN channel and re-installing it in case there is a newer version that isn’t uploading to your Roku. Other than that check your VPN/SmartDNS is working correctly those are the only reasons I can see on your end.

      Try ACORN on the computer to see if that works if it doesn’t work there either the only possible scenario is the problem lies with ACORN. Contact their customer service they should be able to help.

      Good luck!
      Daniel

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