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TV Answer Man

Roku Has 700 Channels - But Are They Free?

By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (February 13, 2013) -- Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

Q. I read that Roku, the Internet TV set-top, has more than 700 channels. But are they free? is there a monthly fee like TiVo has? -- Katherine, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

For those not familiar with Roku, it's a set-top box that can stream video and audio channels over the Internet to your TV. You connect the Roku to your TV using an HDMI cable and then capture the signals either using your wireless home network or a direct wired connection. (For more information on how to connect a Net TV device, click:
What Is a Smart TV? How Do I Connect It?)

And, Katherine, you'll be happy to know that Roku does not require a monthly fee like TiVo.

The difference in the two is that TiVo is a DVR which allows you to record programming from traditional TV channels for future viewing. (Some TiVo offer other features as well, including streaming from services such as Netflix.) Roku is a set-top box that allows you to watch and listen to channels that are available on the Internet; the company does not charge you a fee for this.

So, what's the catch? Do you have to pay anything?

Well...yes. For starters, the Roku box starts at $48 (the $48 price is available this week at Amazon, which is sponsoring a special $10 discount on Roku products. For more information, click here:

Second, Roku offers a mix of free and subscription-only or PPV channels. The latter category includes Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass and Hulu Plus. They either require a separate monthly subscription or, in the case of Vudu, a Pay-Per-View fee for each movie you watch.

But Roku has quite a few free channels, too, such as UStream, CNET, Wall Street Journal Live, Crackle, Pandora's music service, HBO Go (if you subscribe to HBO and your Internet provider permits you to watch HBO GO) and foreign language channels, among many others. Here's a link to
Roku's Channel page.

Does Roku Have the YouTube channel?
Can I watch WatchESPN On Roku?

So, yes, Roku can give you more than 700 channels, but they are not free. Not all of them anyway.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

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