A FLOOD OF FREE STREAMING
There are lots of streaming devices on the market, from smart TVs to Chromecast to Amazon Fire TV. But the household leader, at least for now, is Roku, which entertains 10 percent of households in Canada and the United States. It wins applause for the huge number of channels, ease of use, and low cost, with hardware starting at just $49. Buying and plugging in the device is just the first step, though, and lots of Roku channels demand paid subscriptions for their content. Others operate a la carte, meaning you pay only for what you watch, but here are 10 popular Roku channels that cost nothing.
If you love movies, Crackle is a must. It delivers uncut, unedited Hollywood movies, as well many hit TV series and a handful of original programs. Many viewers consider it easier to browse than some popular paid movie channels.
Not enough movies on Crackle? Popcornflix features films of all genres, as well as foreign fare and documentaries. There are more than 1,500 to choose from, and the company says more are added daily -- so many, in fact, that a separate Popcornflix Kids channel hosts family-friendly flicks. A third channel is devoted to comedies.
PBS AND PBS KIDS
If you've cut the cable cord, this channel gives you back PBS favorites such as "Frontline," "Masterpiece," and "Nova," plus cooking shows and more videos than you can ever watch. The kids won't miss their favorite shows either. The PBS Kids channel carries "Sesame Street," "Curious George," "The Cat in the Hat," and more.
A paid Hasbro channel offers more options, but why pay if shows the kids like are available free? Try Hasbro Studios first to see if its offerings of "Transformers" and similar series keep the children entertained.
Sports fans appreciate this free Roku channel for news, scores, and expert analysis of NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, and NASCAR events, as well as college sports and more.
NFL Now is a magnet for football fans. Try the "Most Popular" feed for its news and inside footage before letting the channel lure you paying for other league content on Roku.
The CBS News channel brings viewers "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Evening News," as well as other staples, including "60 Minutes." You can also watch news programs that have already aired and programming from CBSN, the network's Internet news channel, live from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.
Get live hourly content, entertainment news, and highlights from favorite ABC news shows such as "Nightline" and "20/20." Local news updates also appear on the ABC News channel.
Put up with some commercials and you can join the NetFit Free exercise corps with boot camps, Pilates, yoga, cardio, muscle-sculpting workouts, and more. (If the ads really bother you, upgrade to the paid version for $9 a month.)
THE COOKING CHANNEL
Naturally, cooking shows dominate this free Roku channel. But its cooking experts also serve up advice and recipes for international cuisine and dieters. Other content focuses on narrow topics such as spices, and helpful tips apply regardless what you're cooking.