Roku streaming media players do not require a cable subscription to function; however, many cable companies and cable network channels have apps available that allow authorized subscribers to stream content with Roku devices, including Time Warner Cable, ESPN, the History Channel, Showtime Anytime, Fox Now and HBO GO, as of 2015. Some subscription streaming content providers, including Hulu, offer streams of cable TV channels such as Bravo, Oxygen, SyFy and the USA network to members with paid TV subscriptions.
The advantage of having access to cable TV content along with a Roku streaming media device is the mobility options that it provides the subscriber. Roku devices are portable and owners can access content anywhere there is sufficient Internet service.
Roku devices also provide access to thousands of popular free and subscription-based streaming media services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Sling and Amazon. Roku users also have access to many pay-per-view and video rental services, such as Vudu, Google Play Movies and TV, Amazon Instant Video, Cinema Now and PopcornFlix.
Roku devices come in several models and styles, including three models of streaming set-top players, the 4K UHD player, the Streaming Stick and Roku Smart TVs. Roku has mobile apps for most smartphones and tablets, including those running the iOS, Android and Windows mobile operating systems.