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What is Roku TV – how does it work?

Here's everything you need to know about Roku TV
Last Updated on September 4, 2023
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The field of TV streaming has come a long way. Watching content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms has become the new norm. There are several OTT streaming channels, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus that are user favorites. However, what if you want to watch the content across all these platforms through a single dashboard? That’s what Roku thought – and then they came up with Roku TV as a result. In this article, we’ll learn about what Roku TV is and how it works. It’s already one of the more popular streaming apps, and it could end up being your new go-to streaming service.

What is Roku TV?

Roku TV is not a standalone device but a smart TV platform developed by Roku Inc. It combines the convenience of a smart TV’s connectivity and streaming capabilities with Roku’s user-friendly interface. Unlike a regular TV, Roku TVs have built-in Roku technology, eliminating the need for an external cable connection or streaming platform accounts. As it streams videos directly to the Roku TV, it’s different from both broadcast television and cable connection.

Broadcast television involves transmitting free-to-air signals of TV channels over the airwaves to reach antennas in homes. On the other hand, cable connection delivers a wide range of channels and content through a wired network for a subscription fee. However, streaming videos is different. Streaming is like sending digital data from the source to your TV over the internet. Founded by Anthony Wood, the company Roku pioneered streaming to the television. Its company mission is to be the “streaming platform that connects and benefits the entire TV ecosystem around the world”. If you’re unsure which one to go for, you can read in more depth about if you should buy a Smart TV or a Roku TV.

How does Roku TV work?

To understand how Roku TV works, let’s understand its ecosystem first.

Roku TV Ecosystem

Here are the components of the Roku TV ecosystem:

  • Hardware: At its core, Roku TV is a television set with Roku’s operating system built directly into it. The hardware components include the TV’s display panel, speakers, ports for connecting external devices, and a processor to handle the smart TV functions.
  • Roku OS: Roku’s operating system is the backbone of Roku’s television and all other Roku devices. It is built specifically for streaming TV. The Roku OS is designed to be user-friendly and easily navigable. It has a smooth setup, a simple home screen, and an intuitive user interface.
  • App ecosystem: Roku provides access to many streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and many more. You can easily install and arrange your preferred apps on Roku’s home screen, making it easy to jump into your favorite content with a few clicks.
  • Roku channel: Roku offers its free streaming channel, aptly named the Roku Channel. This channel provides a selection of movies, TV shows, and original content without subscription fees.

How to set up Roku TV

Now that you know the components of Roku TV, let’s delve deep into how it works.

To begin with, there are different Roku streaming devices to access the content on the Roku TV platform. If you have a Roku streaming Stick, it will attach directly to your TV via an HDMI. If you have the Roku set-top box, it will connect via an HDMI cable inserted into the HDMI port. However, if you have a Roku TV, you will need no extra devices, as it has a built-in Roku device.

Once you have connected a Roku device to your streaming device, you need to connect it to an internet connection. All Roku devices can connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi to an internet connection. However, you can also use an Ethernet cable for a streamlined connection.

Next, you need to create a Roku account, which is very straightforward. Creating a new Roku account will hardly take a few minutes. Once you have an account, you can install the apps you want to watch content from. For instance, if you want to watch Amazon Prime shows, install Amazon Prime from the Roku Channel Store.

You can download apps from all the streaming platforms you like. Once you download these apps, they will appear on Roku TV’s home screen. You can rearrange these apps on the home screen according to your requirements. For instance, if you prefer watching Netflix, you can drag the app to show at the top of the list on the home screen.

You can then select any app or channel and start watching any available show using a remote control included with the Roku TV. You can also install the Roku mobile app to control the device from your smartphone. Additionally, you can also use Alexa voice commands for hands-free audio control.


Roku TV has revolutionized content consumption by seamlessly integrating streaming capabilities into the traditional television set. With its user-friendly interface, extensive app ecosystem, and innovative features, Roku TV offers an excellent entertainment solution. As the streaming landscape continues to evolve, Roku remains a key media player in shaping how we experience TV.

Marla writes across a wide range of topics across PC Guide, including AI, PC hardware, and news on the latest tech releases. She's a passionate writer that's interested in the future of technology.