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

  • Reading time:16 mins read

If you want to launch a Roku channel then you’ve come to the right place.

Roku has the highest Smart TV streaming watch-time worldwide, and gives you access to over 53.6 million monthly active accounts in the US alone!

So if you’re looking to reach…

  • your existing viewers on their TVs
  • new viewers who like streaming on their TVs

…then launching a Roku channel is the way to go.

In this article, we’ll show you why you need a Roku app and the 3 ways you can create your own Roku channel with zero coding knowledge needed.

We’ll break down how each method works, how much it costs, and how long it’ll take.

Let’s get started!

(Note: “App” and “Channel” are synonyms in this article) 


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What Is Roku?

I know this stuff, skip!

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”.

roku ott streaming device

The company sells its own hardware called Roku Players, which run anywhere between $29.99 and $129.99, depending on the model.

The most common Roku devices are:

  • HDMI sticks that plug directly into your TV.
  • Block boxes that connect via WiFi.
  • 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.

Why Should You Create A Roku Channel?

Roku is the most “no-brainer” OTT app you can launch for your video-on-demand business.

By using OTT apps to make their businesses more accessible to their audiences, we’ve seen Uscreen customers increase their video streaming revenue and views by 30%.

But why start with Roku?

Well, because having a Roku channel will increase your: audience reach, revenue, and user satisfaction.

As you saw earlier Roku TV apps dominate the streaming device market worldwide:

uscreen ott tv 2021 breakdown

According to Conviva’s State of Streaming report, Roku makes up 30% of global streaming time on TVs! This is led by North America, which has the highest Roku view-time of 37%.

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

It makes your video business more accessible by letting you meet existing and potential viewers wherever they are, you’ll be able to:

  • Give customers who already own a Roku device a familiar way to interact with your content and offer a higher value for money.
  • Capture a brand new subsection of potential customers; those who are already comfortable streaming content through their smart TVs and are looking for more channels to interact with.

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 be able to grow customer referrals and justify any future price hikes. (Afterall, research shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience).

Your audience wants to access your content hassle-free. And if they can’t access your content at their convenience, they’ll find other brands that can let them!

Now that you know what a Roku channel is and why it’s important, let’s get into how you can create your own…

How To Create A Roku Channel (With No Coding Knowledge!)

Roku is an open-platform device that allows anyone to create new channels

There are 3 main ways you can create a Roku channel.

Each method requires a different level of invested energy, skill, cost, and time – but they’re all suitable for people with no coding knowledge. (Like me!)

  • Method 1 (most recommended): lease a Roku channel.
  • Method 2: use Roku Direct Publishing.
  • Method 3: hire a developer

In this section, we’ll break down each method, how long it takes, and how much it costs, so you can choose the most effective option for your business.

Here’s how you can create a Roku channel:

Method #1 Lease a Roku channel

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 investing thousands of dollars on developers to keep up with the rest of the industry.

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 – who 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 your viewers all while making it easy for you to manage your videos.

This is exactly what Cakeflix did, a video streaming service that offers 1000+ cake decorating, baking, and business tutorials:

cakeflix video streaming service

They launched branded OTT platforms with Uscreen where they can upload, manage, and natively distribute their video content on all devices. (More on that later!)

Pricing and the 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.

When choosing an OTT provider, these are the top 10 services and features that should be made available to you:

  1. A video streaming website that is fully customizable, alongside your apps.
  2. Global payment gateways and in-app purchases (including Apple and Android Pay).
  3. Live streaming.
  4. Protected content and secure downloads.
  5. Free maintenance and updates for your channel’s health.
  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.

If you want to know more, we’ve created a comprehensive list of 18 things to look for when shopping for an OTT service provider.

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If you’re curious about Uscreen then stick around! We’ll show you what our apps are like and how easy it is to get started with us.

Method #2 Roku Direct Publishing

Roku Direct Publishing is Roku’s own service built to help you start and create a Roku channel of your own.

Here’s how it works:

You’ll first need to 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.

roku developer dashboard

You’ll see a set of follow-along screens that you need to complete. These will prompt you to include things like your…

  • name
  • type of content
  • branding
  • layout
  • content feed

…and more. Once you reach the final screen of steps, you’re almost set up. The real work begins now!.

There are 3 important technical tasks you’ll need to take care of on your own 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 them to your viewers via your channel. Prices range from $20 to $1000+ depending on the service and storage you want.
  2. Create a ‘content feed’: this is a piece of code (in either MRSS or JSON format) 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. Depending on their level of experience, prices range from $60/h to $100/h.
  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 business’s current page if you’ve got one. You could use a video or web hosting service; prices can range from $10/month to $100/month (depending on if you choose a video hosting service and how much storage you need).

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 pretty time-consuming and costly.

Using Roku Direct Publisher is free, but the services you need to set up before creating your Roku channel are not. This method will cost you between $30 to $1000+ per month (not including developer fees), and may take a few weeks to go live.

The good news is that you can create a Roku channel without knowing what MRSS or JSON are…

Method #3 Hire a Developer

If the last method sounds too complicated and you have a healthy budget dedicated to launching your OTT service, then hiring an agency or developer to create a custom Roku channel may be the easier option.

That way, you can build your app from scratch to your exact specifications with no coding knowledge needed on your part.

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

The cost estimate is just the developing fee and does not include monthly expenses of running the app, maintenance, support, and hosting. So, if you do go ahead with this method, be prepared to spend.

The biggest mistake you can make here is trying to cut-corners, which will just result in a really buggy app and will cost you more time and money to fix.

Now, we understand that hiring a developer is a big ask, and you may not have 6 months and tens of thousands of dollars to spare. That’s okay! You can only work with what you’ve got, right?

In the next section, we’ll give you a rundown of how you can lease a Roku channel with Uscreen and what that even looks like.

Let’s go…

Launching A Roku Channel With Uscreen

Now that you know the 3 ways you can launch a Roku channel without having to code it yourself, let’s take a deeper dive into the easiest, fastest, and cheapest option… leasing an app.

But, how do you know if Uscreen is for you?

Well if you’re looking for a…

  • cost-friendly option
  • technically hands-off solution
  • dedicated team to support and maintain your app (for free) after launching
  • platform ready to go

… then launching 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 and we’ll regularly update your app to make sure it’s running optimally!

Take Raqs Online, for example. They’re a bellydance and fitness video streaming platform that launched with us.

raqs online bellydance vod

By creating a Roku channel with Uscreen they got a white-label, branded app that’s rated 5 stars (our users love our apps because we’ve developed a user experience that gets high ratings).

raqs online ott app

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

raqs online streaming website

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!

uscreen marketing tools

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.

uscreen video upload

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

Wondering how to get started with us? Here’s how it works:

  1. You set up a Uscreen account and place an order for your app.
  2. You get your video website ready by adding content.
  3. You set up your Roku Developer account (don’t worry! Our team will help you figure that out).
  4. You provide us with your app requirements – the assets needed to build your app.
  5. We review your submitted app requirements and ask for any incomplete assets.
  6. We build your app, which you test and provide feedback.
  7. We submit your app for approval in the Roku Channel Store*
  8. After it’s published, you launch it to your customers and celebrate!

*We cannot control how long Roku’s approval process takes.

If you’re looking for more OTT services that launched with Uscreen, check out this colorful list of video platforms, from 4 different industries, that successfully launched their Roku channels (and more) with us.

Wrapping this up…

And there you have it! 3 ways to create a Roku channel if you’re not a developer. Now you can make an informed decision for your video business.

To recap, these are your options:

  1. Lease a Roku channel: preferable if you’re on a budget, want a completely hands off solution, and need maintenance and support once it’s live.
  2. Roku Direct Publisher: preferable if you don’t mind a scrappy DIY method with some technical tasks, are on a budget, can deal with multiple moving parts.
  3. Hire a developer: preferable if you have time, a big budget where you can afford to splurge, and want a technically hands-off solution.
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Can I create my own Roku channel?

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

1. Lease a Roku channel from an OTT platform provider, like Uscreen. 
2. Use Roku Direct Publisher; Roku’s own service built to help you start and create a Roku channel of your own. 
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 $60 and $20k.

Roku Direct Publisher is free to set up, but you will have to pay for your own hosting, CDNs, and content feed, this can cost up to $1000, not including developer fees. Whereas hiring a developer to custom build your Roku channel will cost you between $10k to $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 on a monthly basis.

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 to $1000+ per month not including developer fees.

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

Which is better: Firestick or Roku?

As a creator Roku is more widely used worldwide, its share of global viewing time is 30% whereas Firestick is 19%.

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

The post How to Create Your Own Roku Channel (Even If You’re Not a Developer) appeared first on Uscreen.