Like a lot of people, yesterday I received a Roku 2 XD as a gift. This is my second Roku after picking up the first generation SD device last year on eBay. Roku is like Apple TV on steroids with over 350 channels of content in their Channel Store. Most of these are free with a few pay services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and EPIX also available. But there are gaps in the channels, particularly if you are not subscribed to cable, such as sports and live news. And while there are some of these services available in the Roku vetted Channel Store right on the device, private channels opens up an entire world of new choices.
Adding a Roku private channel is easy, you just need to know the developers code for the channel and have a Roku account which you create when you connect your player. Just log into your Roku account online and click on the “My Account” link on the top right and then “Add a Private Channel” that is half way down the page (or just log into your Roku account and click on the code links below). The best directory of all the Roku Private Channels is on the StreamFREE.tv site but you will find them elsewhere if you do a Google search.
The following list are my top 5 Roku Private Channels after testing out about 20 over the past year. All of these are used here at least weekly and really extend the value of the Roku device.
5) CNN – You will find another CNN private channel (code: CNNI) but I prefer this one as it includes CNN podcast clips along with the CNN International live stream. This is a reverse engineered stream from their iPad app so the picture quality is not the best and the audio is also over modulated compared to the other live news streams. But if you want to get live CNN coverage on your Roku, this is the channel to get. The code to enter is “RBFA1”. Then open the Channel Store on your Roku and find the channel in the list to install the first time.
4) Al Jazeera English – This Middle Eastern news channel broadcasts some of the best news coverage that is more objective than most other news channels. This stream is slightly pixelated on a large screen but the sound is very good making this one of my most watched news channels. Just enter code “ALJZ” to add and then open your Channel Store on Roku to install.
3) iTunes Podcasts – This might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I listen and watch a lot of podcasts so use this app often. It aggregates the best of the iTunes Podcast library and streams them to your Roku. The video podcasts look great on the large screen as most of them are in HD. Enter code “ITPC” to add and then open your Channel Store on Roku to install.
2) BBC – This is the news channel we turn to most often for world news. Like Al Jazeera the video might be a bit soft but the sound is good. Enter code “BBCN” to add and then open your Channel Store on Roku to install.
1) Nowhere TV – This is the mother of all private channels collecting live streams and podcasts in a curated grid. If you install just one channel from this list this one is it as it includes BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera from above along with many of the podcasts found in the iTunes Podcasts channel. I find the navigation to be a bit of an issue if I just want to get some news streaming so have the dedicated channels above for convenience. But I often dive into Nowhere TV to channel surf for gems I might have missed elsewhere. Enter code “H9DWC” to add and then open your Channel Store on Roku to install.