It's such an odd convention. "Channel" means "a band of frequencies used in radio and television transmission, especially as used by a particular station." HBO is a channel. HBO Max is an app with a menu of on demand streaming content. The Disney Channel is a channel. Disney+ is an app with a menu of on demand streaming content. YouTubeTV is an app that contains a bunch of live channels and a menu of on demand streaming content.
It was obviously used to confuse people and make them think a Roku could give them "channels" just like their expensive cable package. In the early days of Roku they would advertise, "Over 100 channels" or some such nonsense.
It was a decision made early on to entice & not scare off older users. Around 2010, when the Iphone & Roku were new, 'apps' seemed like a confusing thing to use on a Iphone, that the elderly wouldn't wanna dabble in. Confusing to install, sign up for, download, 'Whats an app?'
10 years later, most people yeah use smartphones, even boomers. but as mentioned, they're too far in at this point & the easy peasy process of a 'channel' being easy to watch still sticks. Subliminal, but I think there's something there.
Expanding on inaccurate names or labels. I vote for the elimination of calling apps "channels." I wish to think of them what they actually are "applications." A nice way of accessing the content or activities you want to do online no matter what.
Even the elderly has adapted to this New World. I know I have as an old person.
They were going to call them 'Burningnavallints' but realized
too many people would ask stupid questions.