Video Monetization

How to Create a Roku Channel (Even If You’re Not a Developer)

By Ashley R. Cummings
10 Min Read

Learn More about Mobile & TV Apps

A woman sits on her couch with a remote control picking what to watch on Roku.

Your content has gained a following and you’re ready to take your brand to the next level. If you want to delight your audience with a convenient and sleek viewing experience, there’s just one thing you need to know: how to create a Roku channel.

A Roku channel – or Roku app – allows you to stream your content to smart TVs. In fact, Roku has the highest smart TV streaming watch time worldwide, and gives you access to over 71.6 million monthly active accounts in the U.S. alone.

In this article, we’ll show you why you need a Roku app and how to create a Roku channel in 3 different ways:

  1. Roku Direct Publishing
  2. Leasing a Roku Channel
  3. Hiring a Developer

We’ll break down how each method works, how much it costs, and how long it’ll take. Let’s get started!

What is Roku?

Roku is an over-the-top (OTT) streaming device that allows you to stream video content straight to your TV, both on-demand and live. The device gives you access to a full catalog of streaming channels, called Roku apps or Roku channels.

And having your own Roku app means you can have your content look and feel like you have your own TV channel. 

I know this stuff, skip!

A photo shows a TV screen with Roku's platform on screen, and a Roku device plugged into the TV. The screen shows 'The Roku Channel'.

The company sells its own hardware called Roku Players, which run anywhere between $29.99 and $249.99, depending on the model.

The most common Roku streaming devices are:

  • HDMI sticks that plug directly into your TV.
  • Block boxes that connect via Wi-FI.
  • Smart TVs.

Roku OS is the software that runs on these devices. It allows you to download and stream a wide range of Roku TV apps.

💡 Quick note: In this article, we’ll use the terms  “app” and “channel” as synonyms.

Why You Should Create a Roku Channel

Roku is the most “no-brainer” OTT app you can launch for your video-on-demand business — it can increase your reach, user satisfaction, and revenue.

At Uscreen, for example, we’ve seen customers increase their video streaming revenue and views by 30%.
To boot, Roku TV apps dominate the streaming device market worldwide as the most used ‘big screen’ device, with 30.5% of the viewing time. 

A graphic shows 2022's platform breakdown, showing that Roku is the most popular.

So, to reach the biggest TV streaming audience worldwide, you should create a Roku channel. 

A Roku channel will make your video business more accessible by letting you meet existing and potential viewers where they are (hint: Roku). By doing this you’ll: 

  • Give customers who already own a Roku device an easy way to interact with your content and offer a higher value for their money.
  • Capture a brand-new subsection of potential customers, because your app is where they’re searching 
  • Better still, a larger (and more satisfied) audience means more money!

Because of the convenience and greater user satisfaction that comes with having a Roku channel, you’ll grow customer referrals. 

After all, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Your audience wants to access your content hassle-free. And if it’s difficult for them to access your content at their convenience, they’ll find other brands that make it easier.

Top 3 ways to create a Roku Channel

Now that you know what a Roku channel is and why it enhances your video membership business, let’s get into how you can start a Roku channel, including:

  1. Roku Direct Publishing
  2. Leasing a Roku channel
  3. Hiring a developer

Let’s dive deeper into each method.

1. How To Create a Roku Channel: Roku Direct Publishing

To create a Roku channel on your own, you can go the longer Roku Direct Publishing route. First, set up a Roku customer. To get started, set up Roku customer, developer, and billing accounts. Then, log in to the Roku developer dashboard and create a new channel under the “Manage My Channel” tab.

From here, you’ll see a set of follow-along screens to complete. These screens will prompt you to include things like your name, type of content, and branding. Once you reach the final screen of steps, you’re almost set up.

A screenshot of Roku's direct publisher page.

There are 3 important technical tasks to take care of before your channel is ready to go live:

  1. Set up a content delivery network (CDN): this is a third-party server that contains your video content and delivers it to your viewers via your channel. Prices range from $20 to $1,000+. 
  2. Create a “content feed”: this is a piece of code that tells your CDN where it needs to stream your content to. You’ll need to hire a developer who knows Roku’s niche code language. Prices range from $60/hour to $100/hour. 
  3. Set up a web-hosting service: this lets you get your feed online. It works like hosting any website and could be added to your current page. You could use a video- or web-hosting service. Prices can range from $10/month to $100/month.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in this process that you need to be keeping tabs on even after your Roku channel is up and running. 

This can be time-consuming and costly.

So while using Roku Direct Publisher is free, you’ll need to spend money on the services you need to set up before creating a Roku channel. 

This method will cost you between $30 and $1,000+ per month (not including developer fees), and may take a few weeks to go live.

Thankfully, there is another alternative if you’re not the DIY developer type — you can lease a Roku channel.

2. How To Quickly and Affordably Create a Roku Channel: Lease a Roku Channel (This!)

Leasing a Roku app is the quickest and most cost-effective way to create a Roku channel.

Renting a Roku channel from an OTT service provider lets you focus on perfecting your video content and running your business. 

The beauty of leasing is that someone else takes care of all the technical aspects, like updating your app and adding new features, so you can spend time on the tasks that matter. 

It also saves you thousands of dollars on developers to keep up with the rest of the industry.

When choosing an OTT provider, these are the top 10 services and features that you should be looking for: 

  1. A video streaming website that is fully customizable, alongside your apps. 
  2. Global payment gateways and in-app purchases.
  3. Live streaming capabilities. 
  4. Protected content and secure downloads. 
  5. Free maintenance and updates. 
  6. A technically hands-off solution.
  7. Customizable and branded apps.
  8. Bulk video uploading. 
  9. Marketing tools for business growth.
  10. Full audience ownership.

Here’s how leasing an app works: let’s say you run a video business around educational content, and you want to share your content on Roku smart TVs.

You can rent the services of an OTT service provider like Uscreen that has Roku channels, content delivery networks (CDNs), and video hosting ready to go.

You will have to provide some information about your business and certain branded assets so the finished product will look and feel like yours, but that’s about it! 

When it’s ready, your chosen OTT provider should give you a full out-of-the-box Roku channel that hosts and distributes your content to viewers all while making it easy for you to manage your videos.

Pricing and specific features of your channel will vary for this method depending on the OTT provider you pick, and it can take a few weeks, or up to 6 months in certain circumstances, to launch your Roku channel.

💡 How CakeFlix Successfully Leased a Roku Channel

CakeFlix created a video streaming service that offers 1,000+ cake decorating, baking, and business tutorials:

A screenshot of Cakeflix's Roku channel.

They launched branded OTT platforms with Uscreen where they can upload, manage, and natively distribute their video content on all devices.

It’s simple with Uscreen.

Build, launch and manage your membership, all in one place.

3. How to Create a Custom Roku Channel: Hire a Developer

If creating a Roku channel on your own sounds too complicated, you want to lease a channel, and you have a healthy budget to do it with.  then hiring an agency or developer to create a custom Roku channel could be the way to go.

By hiring a developer, you have someone to walk you through the app development. This means you can build your app from scratch to your exact specifications with no coding knowledge required.. 

Since it’s a full-on app development project, it will usually take between 3 and 6 months to go live, and will likely cost you anywhere between $10K and $20K depending on the features you require. That’s a lot of time and money! 

And that’s just the development fee. o So, if you do go down this route remember you’ll still have the monthly expenses of running the app, maintenance, support, and hosting. 

With custom app development, the biggest mistake you can make is trying to cut corners. While it may save you a bit of money in the short term, it’ll leave you with a buggy app and end up costing you further down the line.  

In the next section, we’ll show you how to get the best of both worlds and lease a Roku channel with Uscreen.

Let’s go…

Launching a Roku Channel With Uscreen 

Now you know the 3 ways to launch a Roku channel, let’s take a deeper dive into the easiest, fastest, and cheapest option: launching a Roku app with Uscreen.

Uscreen is a video membership platform where content creators can create a highly engaging membership and community. While Uscreen videos are optimized to play on browsers, smartphones, and tablets — no matter what video membership platform you use — your videos won’t stream on Roku without an  OTT app.

Since Uscreen understands how many people prefer to consume content on Roku, we also offer OTT app creation.

So, if you’re looking for a cost-friendly option, a technically hands-off solution, and a platform ready to go, then creating a Roku channel with Uscreen is the right choice! 

With Uscreen, you get more than just an app — you get a full OTT platform. For the duration of the lease, you’ll have the full support of our team for regular updates onyour app to make sure it’s running optimally.

Better still, by going with Uscreen, creators can easily launch other OTT apps as part of a package, like Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, Android, and more. 

Here’s how to create a Roku channel with Uscreen:

  1. Set up a Uscreen account and place an order for your app.
  2. Get your video website ready by adding content.
  3. Set up your Roku Developer account. (Our team will help you figure that out.)
  4. Provide us with your app requirements (the assets needed to build your app).
  5. We’ll review your submitted app requirements and ask for any incomplete assets.
  6. We’ll build your app, which you test and provide feedback on.
  7. We’ll submit your app for approval in the Roku Channel Store.
  8. After it’s published, you’ll launch it to your customers and celebrate!

If you’re looking for more OTT services that launched with Uscreen, check out this list of video platforms that successfully launched their Roku channels with Uscreen. 

💡How Raqs Online Created A Roku App

Raqs Online is a belly dance and fitness video streaming platform that launched with us. By creating a Roku channel with Uscreen, they got a white-label branded app that’s rated 5 stars.

Their package also includes a beautifully designed and speedy video streaming website that they can fully customize and upload content to:

A screenshot of Raqs Online's platform.

With their OTT apps and video streaming website, Raqs can manage their content and subscribers, access marketing tools, and accept global payments from one dashboard.

And since Raq’s website and app are already synced, they can upload videos seamlessly, set up live streams, and even send push notifications on their Roku app to their users.

Your Turn To Shine — Create a Roku Channel with Uscreen Today!

There you have it: a full guide on how to create a Roku channel if you’re not a developer. Now you can make an informed decision for your video business. 

If you’re ready to start streaming to your audience’s TVs with the best overall method, request a demo with Uscreen today and we’ll help you get started. 

It’s simple with Uscreen.

Build, launch and manage your membership, all in one place.

How To Create a Roku Channel FAQs

Still have questions about creating a Roku channel? We’ve got the answers. 

How Do You Get Your Own Channel on Roku?

There are 3 ways you can create your own Roku channel if you’re not a developer:

1. Use Roku Direct Publisher, Roku’s own service built to help you start and create a Roku channel of your own. 

2. Lease a Roku channel from an OTT platform provider, like Uscreen.
3. Hire a developer or agency to custom build a Roku channel for you. 

How Much Does It Cost To Create a Roku Channel?

Depending on how you create your Roku channel, you’re looking to spend anywhere between $10 and $20K.

Roku Direct Publisher is free to set up, but you will have to pay for your own hosting, CDNs, and content feed, which can cost up to $1,000, not including developer fees.

Hiring a developer to custom build your Roku channel will cost you between $10K and $20K, and may take up to 6 months to deliver.

If you’re leasing an app, depending on which provider you choose and the package you get, you’ll be spending a smaller lump sum of money spread out over time. 

Is the Roku Channel Really Free?

If you’re creating a Roku channel using Roku Direct Publisher, the service is free, but the prerequisites to create the channel can cost between $30 and $1,000+ per month not including developer fees.

As a viewer, there are no monthly fees to stream via Roku tv, but some channels do require a subscription, like Netflix. 

Which Is Better: Fire Stick or Roku?

As a creator, Roku is more widely used worldwide — its share of global viewing time is 30.5%, whereas Fire Stick is 16%.

As a viewer, Roku has more channels (some of them free), works on Alexa and Google, and has more features. But Fire Stick is still a good choice for Amazon Prime video members and people who have Amazon smart devices.