If you’re one of the many Canadians getting tempted to cut the cable cord, or have done so already, you might find that you already miss certain things you enjoyed when you were plugged in. Local news broadcasts, for example, are one of those things you can’t enjoy through a Netflix subscription. The same goes for live sports events. Geek Squad can help you to ensure you are getting as much as possible from your home theatre. Check with your Geek Squad for personalized suggestions, but one thing that can help anyone get more channels is a Roku Streaming Player.
Roku is one way that you can start to claim back those things you’re missing. While in many cases, it won’t be 100% the same (Distribution laws also work differently in Canada than they do the US which is why you don’t have things like Hulu up here,) but you may just find enough to make it work to your liking.
What is Roku? It is a small device that you connect to your TV with an HDMI cable. You can learn about the latest Roku devices in this recent article on the Best Buy blog:
Your personalized Roku experience is defined by streaming channels you add to your display. You’ll find some of the usual streaming content providers (like Netflix and YouTube,) some unusual choices (like the Canadian Film Board, the Pokemon Channel and Docurama) and some subscription based options. Hundreds of channels are available for free and this is where to get started. Here is a starter guide on how to find some of your local channels with a Roku.
Look for them by name
It kind of goes without saying but the easiest way for you to find one of your local stations would be just to search for it. Seaching with a Roku tends to be pretty fast (especially if you go by keyword) but you may find that you don’t find your exact station—it may not be participating as its own Roku channel. That’s not much of a problem though. You may find what you’re looking for on another app.
Learn about and search for “Network” channels.
“Network” channels aren’t necessarily the ones that are tied to a major US network (like ABC, CBS, etc.) Rather, if you look at a Roku channel like NewsON, it delivers on demand news broadcasts and clips from many local news stations. You just might be able to find what you’re looking for through channels like these, of which there are quite a few in the Roku store.
Partner Up with a Tablo DVR
This is perhaps one of the cooler options I’ve seen out there. The Tablo TV DVR partnered with a Roku and your HDTV Antenna allow you to receive your local channels streamed into the box and let you pause, record and stream whatever local channels are available to you. This is perhaps the easiest way for you to get those local channels back. However, you do need to buy and install additional hardware as the Tablo TV DVR sits on its own similar to the PVRs you had when you had a cable package.
One other thing to note as well is that Tablo does not work with Over the Top subscription services like Netflix as it’s specialized to work mainly with localized TV options.
If you’d like to learn more about what networks you’ll be able to get at home with Tablo’s help, they have a channel finder option on their website.
Explore Roku Private Channels
Private Channels on Roku devices are interesting territory. Roku themselves have hosted blogs speaking about private channels and what they bring to the table for you. Private Channels look and function like the ones available out in public, but aren’t accessible through usual means.
Private Channels don’t necessarily contain content you wouldn’t get on some of their other channels. However, a host of reasons could exist as to why the information isn’t out in public, including those being tested, adult content or a developer channel used for a specific purpose that doesn’t warrant the need for a public channel. As long as they also comply with Roku’s Channel Developer Agreement, they’re allowed to stick around.
As a result, you may find that some of your local channels are testing private Roku channels and may be able to gain access to them to watch.
The thing about private channels, however, is that you have to be looking for them. In order for you to access a private channel, you have to obtain the code to unlock that channel and input it into your device. You can also log into your Roku account and apply the code.
Perhaps you are not most concerned about missing out on local news channels. It might be the sports broadcasts you miss more than anything. For those, Roku can bring you nearly every major sports league that has a streaming option. You can add MLB TV or NHL Gamecenter to your channel feed and with a working paid subscription can surf and watch the hockey feed you’re used to with your favourite broadcasters.
Bonus Feature: iHeartRadio
If you’re living away from home or perhaps travelling somewhere that you have access to a Roku, some of your local radio stations may have presence on the iHeartRadio channel. This is a free download for Roku users and you can easily access thousands of local radio stations and hopefully the one you’re looking for. You now tend to hear a lot of stations announcing their presence on the network as well. Vancouver’s TSN 1040 Sports Radio station, for example, seems to plug that fact into their morning show every few minutes of the day.
Those are just a few ways that you can use a Roku to access local content. Whether you want to catch a news broadcast, your favourite shows or the game, there are a lot of different ways you can do this without falling back on your cable subscription.
To learn more about your options to improve your home theatre experience, contact Geek Squad, either in a Best Buy store, or online, and get helpful advice.