How Roku Streaming TV Works

Roku allows you to watch free and paid video content on your TV via the Internet. TV and Movie streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube and more are loaded on the Roku similar to how apps are loaded onto a smartphone. While the majority of the content is prerecorded, services like Hulu allow a lot of content to be viewed just one day after its initial airing on television. Furthermore, apps like Sling TV allow content to be viewed live as it airs.

How Roku Works

Roku plugs into your TV using an HDMI cable, connected from your TV to the Roku device. The Roku is then connected to the internet via a wired or wireless connection to your home network.

Roku works by downloading video from the internet, you then watch on your TV. The video doesn’t need to be saved as it’s watched as Roku downloads or “streams” the video. Apps or “channels” are programs you load onto your Roku device that provide you with various movies and TV shows. This works much like installing apps on a smartphone or tablet.

With the exception of a few, most channels are providing TV shows that are recorded and not live. However, channels like Hulu provide many current TV shows just one day after the live airing.

In most cases, the shows are recorded, stored by the channel provider and streamed to your Roku. This differs from the live TV experience you receive with cable TV. However, with a Roku and the right channels, you can watch a majority of your favorite shows. You just watch one day later.

The Roku gives you the power to decide what shows you want to watch and when you want to watch them, so it’s essentially watching TV as if everything is on-demand. Since Roku greatly expands your on-demand options, you may even want one to supplement your cable subscription instead of replacing it. I’ll go into more detail on that later in the guide.

How To Add Channels To Roku

Installing channels on Roku is easy. From the Home, Menu scroll down to "Streaming Channels" and click the purple "OK" button on the remote.

This navigates you to the Roku Channel Store (don’t worry, most are free to install). As you can see by the picture below; there are numerous options to find channels.

You can use "Search Channels" to search by typing in a search term or use any of the other search options available. Once you find a channel navigate to it with the arrow keys on the remote and press the purple "OK" button. From there the channel will install and be available on your home screen.
It’s as easy as installing an app on a smartphone.