Roku's streaming devices offer thousands of channels. Having a big selection is usually a good thing, but the chaff outweighs the wheat by a wide margin. If you want to get the most out of your Roku, you'll need to find the best channels. Whether you want to watch movies, binge TV shows or listen to music, these are the apps that rise above the rest.
Whether or not you subscribe to Amazon Prime, the Amazon Video channel is a worthwhile addition to your Roku. Those who dish out the $99-per-year membership fee for Prime can stream a large selection of movies and TV shows. Amazon Video also offers a la carte purchases and rentals, as well as a growing number of original programs, including the acclaimed Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. For those who don't want a full Amazon Prime subscription, you can subscribe to Amazon Video only for $9 per month.
Crackle provides free big-budget movies, provided you don't mind sitting through a few commercials. If you cut the cord on your cable subscription but still miss zoning out in front of cheesy action comedies, this app is for you. The selection at Crackle rotates frequently, but there are usually some memorable films, like Gattaca. Its original series, such as Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, are worth a look, too.
Netflix pioneered the art of the marathon TV watching session. Whether you want to watch newer hits like Black Mirror, or classics like The A-Team, Netflix has something to suit your tastes. Netflix also boasts some of the best-made and well-received original programming, from Marvel tie-ins Daredevil and Jessica Jones, to revivals of popular nostalgic shows like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and Fuller House.
YouTube is not a TV or movie channel in the strictest sense, but in terms of the raw amount of video it offers, this service is unsurpassed. You'll find a little bit of everything: original web shows, small clips from popular movies and TV shows, music videos, narrated playthroughs of popular video games and just about everything else, from paid movie rentals to much racier fare.
While there's no (legal) way around dishing out a lot of money for HBO programming, HBO Go and HBO Now help make the investment worthwhile. These channels let you watch both past and current seasons of popular HBO shows, such as Game of Thrones, in addition to comedy specials and hit movies. While HBO Go requires an existing cable subscription, HBO Now is stand-alone streaming channel.
Hulu has deals with major networks, including Fox, NBC, The CW and ABC, and it uploads new episodes shortly after they air. The service has past seasons of popular shows on tap, and even hosts the entire runs of nostalgic series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Daria. A handful of decent Hulu originals, like Difficult People and Casual, sweeten the deal. Check out our updated list of what to watch on Hulu.
At first blush, FandangoNOW is extremely similar to Amazon Video. Roku's default movie and TV show streaming service is exactly what it claims to be: a way to buy and rent movies that's pre-installed on every Roku device. While the selection isn't drastically different from competing services, there's no reason not to try it, especially since it now provides a small selection of 4K films.