Do You Need a TV Provider for Your Roku?

The Roku Channel Streaming Live TV main screen

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What To Know

  • Roku offers over 350 free live TV channels, exceeding the number generally included in basic cable plans, and does not require a TV provider for these channels.
  • Certain channels on Roku, like ESPN, NBC, or ABC, require a TV provider login for authentication to access their content.
  • Roku provides cost-saving opportunities compared to traditional cable TV, with lower subscription fees for popular channels and access to various streaming services.

In this article, we’ll explore how Roku integrates with Cable TV. If you’ve been wondering whether Roku needs a TV provider and what it means to have a TV provider on Roku, this article will address your questions.

Let’s get started!

Can I Watch Cable TV Channels for Free on Roku?

Yes, you can watch cable TV channels for free on Roku.

Over 350 live TV channels are available on Roku, all free of charge.  Surprisingly, the number exceeds the number of channels generally included in basic cable plans.

Follow these easy steps to access the Live TV Channel Guide on your Roku device to watch these free cable TV channels:

Step 1: Press the Home button on your Roku remote to access the Home menu screen.

press the Home button on the Roku remote

Step 2: Navigate to Live TV.

select Live TV on the Roku screen

Step 3: Select Live TV Channel Guide.

select Live TV Channel Guide on the Roku screen

Now you can see the free cable TV channels list as shown below.

All Channels screen in Roku Live TV

What Does It Mean When My Roku Asks for a TV Provider?

Log In to your ESPN Account on the Roku screen

Some Roku users have encountered an unexpected prompt – a request for a TV provider login.

This happens because specific channels like ESPN, NBC, or ABC require authentication and a subscription to your TV or cable provider. This authentication process grants access to their content on your Roku device, ensuring a seamless streaming experience.

Now, it’s imperative to understand that Roku isn’t a TV or cable provider; it functions as a tool to facilitate your streams. It provides a versatile platform that allows you to access content from different streaming services. 

To enjoy these offers on Roku, you’ll need to follow a straightforward authentication process through your cable or TV provider, as shown in the image above. 

33 TV providers offer streaming options through the Roku Channel Store with a TV or cable subscription, and more TV providers might be updated in the future. Check them out below:

NO. TV Providers 
1. A&E 
2. BTN 
4. History Channel
6. Lifetime 
7. Comedy Central 
8. MTV 
9. ENCORE Play
10. Nat Geo TV
11. EPIX 
12. NBC
14. NBC Sports Live Extra
15. Watch Travel Channel 
16. Fusion
17. NICK
18. FX 
19. Nick Jr.
20. Spectrum TV
21. Lifetime
22. STARZ Play
23. Play
24. Tennis Channel 
25. Watch ABC
26. Nick
27. FX
29. Showtime Anytime
30. Time Warner Cable
31. Watch Disney XR
32. Watch Disney Jr.
33. Watch HGTV

Roku offers a significant advantage when it comes to accessing channels with lower subscription fees compared to traditional cable TV. 

For instance, a popular channel like ESPN, which might cost around  $9.42 per month on traditional cable, could be as affordable as $6.99 on Roku. 

This cost-saving opportunity allows you to continue enjoying your favorite channels while potentially reducing your expenses.

ESPN add a channel on the Roku screen

How Do I Find and Add a Cable TV Channel to My Roku?

Step 1: Press Home on your Roku remote to access the Home menu screen.

The home menu on the Roku screen

Step 2: Scroll down and select Streaming Store.

select Streaming Store on the Roku screen

Step 3: Navigate to Search.

select the Search feature on the Roku screen

Step 4: Input the TV channel you want to add.

input CBS to Search feature on the Roku screen

Step 5: Once you found the TV channel, select Add channel.

CBS New add channel on Roku screen

How To Set Favorite or Hide a Cable TV Channel

Set Favorite a Cable TV Channel

Step 1: In the Live TV Channel Guide, navigate to the channel you want to add to your favorite list.

navigate to a channel to set your favorite on the Roku screen

Step 2: On your remote, press the Star button as below.

press the Star button on Roku remote

Step 3: Select Favorite this channel.

select Favorite this channel on the Roku screen

Step 4: Press Close to save it.

select Close to set the favorite channel on the Roku screen

Now you can see all your favorite channels in the Favorites section of the Roku Live TV channel guide, as shown below. This will save you time for your next viewing instead of having to find them.

Favorite channels section on the Roku screen

Hide a Cable TV Channel

Step 1: Select the channel you want to hide, then press the star button on the Roku remote.

Step 2: Select Hide this channel.

select Hide this channel on the Roku screen

Step 3: Press Close to save it.

select Close to hide the channel on the Roku screen

Does Roku Offer the Same Channels as a TV Provider?

The Roku channel introduction screen

Roku offers as many channels as any TV provider. It can even offer more!

We’ve summarized the channels Roku can offer below: 

1. Roku Free Channels 

These are the channels that come with Roku itself. You can get numerous channels for free, but we’ll name a handful of popular ones below. Some of them may be familiar or will catch your eye!

  • The Roku Channel
  • Pluto TV 
  • The CW 
  • PBS Kids 
  • CBS News 
  • NewsON

2. Subscription Channels 

These subscription channels will be the most familiar to you! With Roku, you can access your subscriptions to channels like Netflix, Hulu, and DisneyPlus. This integration allows you to enjoy your favorite content seamlessly without needing additional devices or subscriptions. 

3. Cable Channels 

You can still watch authenticated cable channels with Roku. There aren’t any additional fees to do so! Launch the channel, then input your satellite or cable information when prompted.

4. Rent or Buy Channels 

If you’re the type to rent or buy movies from Apple TV and Prime Video, don’t worry. Roku allows access to those, too!


With over 350 free live channels, Roku with cable TV provides an immersive experience. The good news, then? You don’t have to use antennas with them. 

In contrast to traditional cable TV, Roku offers a seamless platform to enjoy various streaming services at cheaper subscription costs. Some channels may require a TV provider login for authentication. 

A different option for operating your Roku device and using app features like the Options menus is the Roku Mobile app. With Roku, you can personalize your TV experience to your tastes while saving money.

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