The Roku Channel is one of a few increasingly popular free ad-supported TV services — also known as FAST. With FAST, you get to watch lots of content for free, but you have to sit through ads. It’s basically like terrestrial TV but with a wider offering of content and no antenna. And Roku’s iteration is wildly popular since it’s built directly into the Roku UI, so anyone with a Roku box or TV can just start watching. No account and no real thought necessary.
However, one of the major downsides of FAST that I’ve experienced since I started regularly using it back in March is the paltry offerings for local and national news. Bloomberg, CNN, and upstarts like far-right Newsmax are kind of available, but there can be hiccups in the streams and time delays, and it generally feels less reliable than cable or terrestrial TV.
Still, last night, I popped on Pluto because I wanted to see a certain press conference in Georgia, and Pluto carries the local CBS stations that The Roku Channel just added today. While I still faced hiccups on one stream, I was able to switch to another to catch the entire indictment announcement and the local weather in Los Angeles (enjoy your sub-80-degree days, LA). It was a simple and seamless experience. Was the offering as robust as what I’d get with cable or even antenna? It definitely was not — but it got the job of letting me watch breaking news with fairly unbiased context done.
The Roku Channel will begin streaming a selection of CBS and Fox news stations starting today, meaning it will now have the Big Four terrestrial channels offering news for free. It already offered live news from both ABC and NBC, which means the additions give it maybe the most robust news offerings of any FAST service currently available.
In addition to those more than 30 news stations covering markets including Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Sacramento, you’ll also find new channels dedicated to MrBeast (no YouTube required!), Murder, She Wrote, Saved by the Bell, and Little House on the Prairie. The Roku Channel is available on all Roku devices as well as Amazon Fire TVs, Samsung TVs, and most Android and Google TV devices.