Free movies and TV shows on Roku are now even easier to find

Yes, they include ads.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
2 min read

Do you consider it worth watching a few ads in exchange for streaming some free shows? Do you own a Roku ? If you answered "yes" to both, keep reading.

Rolling out to Roku devices in the coming weeks is a new menu item, prominently placed right below "Home" and above "My Feed" on Roku's main left-hand menu: Featured Free. Selecting it calls up TV shows and movies from a variety of sources, all available to watch for free, immediately.

The initial slate of partners includes ABC, Fox, The CW, Disney's Freeform, Pluto TV, Sony's Crackle, Tubi TV and the Roku Channel. Roku curates the shows and movies manually, selecting new in-season episodes of network shows, full past seasons and select movies, including Grey's Anatomy, The Bachelorette, House Hunters, Riverdale and 50 First Dates.

"We're delighted to deliver even more value to our customers without subscriptions, complicated logins or fees," said Rob Holmes, vice president of programming at Roku. "Some of the programs will be offered next-day after they air, in particular from The CW."

The downside? The TV shows and movies include ads.

Selecting a show launches the associated app -- Roku calls them channels -- for example, the ABC app to watch Grey's Anatomy. If you don't already have the app installed, you'll be prompted to do so. There's no need to log in to the app or "authenticate" using cable TV or other credentials.

Featured Free doesn't offer any free stuff that's not already available from the individual apps themselves. "We're making it easy for our customers to see the free content already available on the Roku platform," said Holmes.


Roku Channel comes to PC and mobile browsers

To get Featured Free you'll need a Roku streaming device or Roku TV, but the company is also moving beyond its purple-walled garden. 

The Roku Channel, yet another place to get curated, free, ad-supported TV shows and movies, is being expanded today to Samsung smart TVs as well as PC and mobile devices. That means you can access it from any browser on your phone, tablet or computer, at TheRokuChannel.com.

The Roku Channel went live on Roku devices in September 2017 and now has over a thousand titles on its roster, which run with "relevant and nonrepetitive" ads interspersed.  Earlier this year it added a News section, a Continue Watching feature and genres categories, the latter two similar to Netflix. The Roku Channel is now the no. 5 most-popular streaming channel on the Roku platform.

Featured Free and The Roku Channel on PC and mobile are only available in the U.S, although the channel is available in Canada on Roku devices.