Channels & viewing

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Why do I need a tv provider to add certain channels

Was trying to add ESPN and it keeps asking for a TV PROVIDER

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Roku Guru

Re: Why do I need a tv provider to add certain channels

Some channels have not come up with an alternate way to be paid.  The cable TV model is certainly a simple and known model to them.  Ie: their only customers are a relatively few cable and a satellite systems, which probably keeps their customer support and billing costs low.

You can contact them and ask them to add a payment method for streaming users.  Other channels, like Netflix, Prime, etc. are streaming only.  It's just different business models.

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Roku Guru

Re: Why do I need a tv provider to add certain channels

@Bbaker  ESPN isn’t free. You need a tv provider. ESPN+ isn’t free. You need a subscription. That’s how it works. It has nothing to do with Roku

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Community Streaming Expert

Re: Why do I need a tv provider to add certain channels


Cable-type channels want to be paid. When you have a paid subscription to a "tv provider" service that carries these channels, they receive their pay out of the subscription fees you pay that provider. When you don't have a subscription to such a provider you are not paying for those channels.

Many cable-type channels make their content available for streaming via a "TV Everywhere" channel app for those paying for the channel through a provider as mentioned above. That service doesn't have to be a bloated cable or satellite service however. There are several services you can subscribe to and run on a Roku that may carry the channels you are interested in at a lower cost than you are paying now. Ones that come to mind to check out for any particular channel would include:

• Hulu plus Live TV
• Sling
• philo
• Directv Stream (the new name for the former AT&T TV)
• YouTube TV (which is currently accessed through the ordinary YouTube app on Roku)
• frndly
• fubu
• vidgo
... there may be others.

Some streaming channels can be subscribed to directly via their web pages (Netflix, Prime Video, NBC Peacock, Paramount+, etc.). Then you can access them on any platform (Roku, firestick, AppleTV, computer, etc.) for which the channel has made an app available. You just log into their app with the credentials you established with that channel.

In addition there are many free channels that do not require "tv provider" accounts. Most (all?) of them are supported by unskippable ads.

There are others you can subscribe to which have free or lower cost tiers with ads but also have higher cost tiers with limited or no ads.

So there are a myriad of options open to you.

There are several places on the net where you can look up which streaming providers carry a particular channel of interest. Here are several such pages: (thanks to @DBDukes for this one)
• .. and again, there may be others

Savings in cord cutting usually come from picking and choosing which of the offerings you wish to pay for instead of paying for full blown cable or satellite services with scores of channels you never watch.

Roku Community Streaming Expert
I am not a Roku employee, only a user like you.  Please, no support questions via private message -- post them publicly to the Community where others may benefit as well.
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Ultra 4800 | Streaming Stick 4K+ 3821 | TCL Roku TV 43S245/C107X
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Roku Guru

Re: Why do I need a tv provider to add certain channels

@makaiguy  I don’t think he needed book about it. It’s as easy as this “ if you’re currently not subscribed to cable, satellite or a live tv streaming service that carriers ESPN you cannot watch ESPN content on the ESPN channel for Roku or any other streaming platform”


Kudos to a thorough explanation though

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