Can You Plug an Antenna into a Roku?

By Greg Martinez / August 24, 2021
man holding remote control in front of tv

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Roku devices are a popular cord-cutting option among those looking to ditch their expensive cable packages.

The devices are budget friendly, come in all form factors, and are easy to set up. But perhaps most importantly, they cost less than other options for the purpose of consuming media.

It’s no secret that Rokus allow the streaming of media primarily over the internet. However, if you want to watch free-to-air channels, can you plug an antenna into a Roku?

The answer to that question is slightly complicated. Here’s a breakdown of the details:

Can You Plug an Antenna in a Roku?

Antennas and Rokus are intrinsically different things. Antennas pick up radio frequency signals that networks and local TV channels broadcast over the air and convert these back into video and audio, before sending them along to your TV.

On the other hand, Rokus are devices that you can also connect to your TV, but these do not pick up TV signals. These devices pick up WiFi signals, with which you can stream media via platforms like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

You cannot plug an antenna into a Roku—the devices neither have the port to plug it in nor do they have the tuner required to browse through OTA channels.

Can You Stream Free Channels Over the Internet on Roku?

There are several apps available on Roku that offer both live and recorded news programs. Some of these apps also broadcast local news, and these can be more than sufficient if you only use your TV to learn about the events in your area.

Some of the many free channels are:

Haystack TV

The app offers a personalized news feed that delivers content that interests you the most. You can create an account and specify your interests—it’ll automatically adapt and cater to your needs over time.

NewsOn

The app streams live newscasts and also allows you to access over 175 different stations on demand. You can either watch it live or catch up on the news you missed.

Pluto TV

If you want to watch newscasts, Pluto TV is the right app to install. It offers live feeds of national stations like CBSN and NBC News.

Is It Possible to Use an Antenna on a TV with a Roku?

Many TVs come with a built-in tuner to convert over-the-air radio frequency signals into digital ones for devices like your TV, which means you can likely plug your antenna into your TV directly. 

You can then use the “Input” or “Source” button on your TV to switch between Roku’s interface and the antenna’s input.

If you only want to use an antenna and don’t plan on streaming media over the internet, you can simply check whether your TV has a tuner and install an antenna. You can avoid buying a Roku altogether.

However, it’s important to note that some new smart TVs don’t come with a tuner.

In such cases, you can buy a digital converter box or a DVR, connect your antenna to it, and then connect the DVR to your TV. This will allow you to scan and browse through the several channels available for free over the air in your area.

Can You Plug an Antenna into a Roku TV?

While Roku streaming devices don’t come with the port or the hardware to work with TV antennas, Roku TVs have the hardware and the port to work with them.

To watch over-the-air channels using an antenna on a Roku TV, after setting up the antenna, all you need to do is plug in the antenna into the “Ant/Cable In” port on the TV.

You can then turn on the TV and follow these steps:

  1. Press the “Home” button on the remote. It’ll lead you to the main menu or “Homescreen.”
  2. From the options that appear on the Homescreen, select “Antenna.”
  3. A box with two options will appear on the screen. Navigate to and select the “Start Finding Channels” option. 
  4. A pop-up will appear. You must choose the “No, Channels 3 and four are not needed” option. These channels are for custom tuning, which is not required for most users.
  5. After the pop-up disappears, the TV will begin to scan the area for more channels. It may take 30 minutes or more for the process to complete. 
  6. After the scan completes, you must select the “Done” option to see the channels that have been scanned. The number of channels you see will depend, of course, on the availability of these over the air in your area.
  7. Browsing and selecting the channel you want to watch should be straightforward from here.

Can You Stream Local Channels on Roku With A Cable Subscription?

If you haven’t cut the cord already and gotten rid of your cable subscription, you can still get a Roku and make use of the rest of your subscription with it.

You can view content on demand on any Roku device by simply logging into an on demand channel from the many stations that are available on Roku with your cable account’s credentials.

The access to the streaming channel you log into may be restricted depending on the cable subscription you have. Some cable providers don’t allow you to stream the channels you paid for over the internet. 

Other cable providers only offer limited access to free channels and require you to pay for streaming online after a set period.

Make sure you check with your cable provider for the precise details.

How to See Which Programs Are Broadcasting After Connecting an Antenna to Roku

You can use the Roku TV’s Smart Guide feature to find movies and TV shows that are broadcasting over the air for free today. You’ll see information about the programs in the upcoming weeks, and the programs that have aired in the past week will also be available.

  • After you connect the antenna to the Roku TV and set up Live TV input, you must make sure that the TV is also connected to the internet.
  • Next, you must press the “Guide” button that’s on your TV’s remote. It’ll open up the Smart Guide. The show or the movie you’re currently watching will be highlighted on the grid.
  • You can also hit the “OK” button on the remote at any time to recall the details of the program on the screen.

NOTE: The Smart Guide only works when you’re connected to the internet. Without an internet connection, the Roku will show you a channel list, but the additional details about the program will be limited to the information that the broadcasters choose to transmit.

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