Get ready for two official Roku apps. The streaming company's free TV service, the Roku Channel, will get its own dedicated free app on iOS and Android. The new app lets you watch more than 115 free live channels along with older shows and movies on your phone and tablet. It also acts as a hub where you can watch premium content you've subscribed on the Web (not available in app) such as HBO and Showtime.
The new Roku Channel app won't replace the company's existing app, which is called simply Roku. That app will continue to allow you to control your Roku TVs and streamers using your phone, and will include the ability to issue voice commands and listen privately via headphones. The existing Roku app also has a Roku Channel section of its own. Meanwhile the new dedicated Roku Channel app doesn't act as a remote control -- it's just for streaming. And you don't need a Roku device to download and access the free Roku Channel app.
Roku Channel's live content includes news (ABC News Live, Reuters, Newsy), kids (Teletubbies, Kidz Bop), lifestyle (Bon Appetit, Bob Ross) and sports (Bein, Outside TV). Starting Tuesday, the service will add more free live channels, including The LEGO Channel, HappyKids.tv, Maverick Black Cinema and a number of Spanish-language entertainment options.
However, it's important to note that these live channels aren't the same as those you'd find on cable TV or live TV streaming services. They're closer to other live, free-ad-supported services such as Pluto TV and Xumo TV, offering a mix of older or lesser-known shows. (Editors' note: Showtime and Pluto TV are both owned by ViacomCBS, the parent company of CNET.)
Outside of live content, you'll also find seasons of shows including Hell's Kitchen, Who's the Boss and Cold Case. There are also movies such as Halloween, Fatal Attraction, About Schmidt and Con Air.
Roku is the most popular streaming platform in the US, with 43 million active accounts by the end of the second quarter of 2020, according to the company. You can find the Roku Channel on Roku devices including its streamers and Roku TVs as well as web browsers and Samsung Smart TVs.
For more, check out our guide on how to replace Netflix and other pricey subscriptions with free services, and the best TV streaming services for cord cutters.