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Roku channels you'll probably want to skip

Many Roku versions of cable TV channels severely limit what shows you can watch without a subscription to a participating pay television service.
Many Roku versions of cable TV channels severely limit what shows you can watch without a subscription to a participating pay television service.
Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Though Roku offers an amazing device with dozens of worthwhile channels, many of which don't charge anything, some choices don't have much to offer. Here are several channels you'll probably want to pass on.

Unless you love infomercials hawking various CD and DVD sets, you can skip right by the Time Life channel. Just like the pay TV channel, Time Life shows clips of old TV shows and songs that they hope will prompt you to buy one of their collections.

History Channel's Roku offerings are almost nonexistent if you don't subscribe to a participating pay TV provider, and many Roku users don't. Even with an appropriate subscription, the History Channel dropped off many viewers' list of preferred channels when they stopped airing shows about actual history and switched to nonstop reality TV.

Similarly, A&E, which used to stand for Arts and Entertainment, dropped anything artsy or entertaining years ago and also switched almost entirely to reality television. Even if you want to watch that sort of programming on your Roku, you can't, unless you have a participating pay TV subscription. The same corporation controls History Channel, A&E and Lifetime, so they all use the same list of participating satellite and cable providers for unlocking Roku channel content. The panel doesn't include many large television services, including AT&T U-Verse, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable.

Disney, Disney Junior and Disney HD have some great content, much of it appropriate for kids and families, but you need to subscribe to a participating pay TV provider to watch any of it on Roku. Only subscribers to the following TV services can access Disney's Roku content: AT&T U-verse, Charter, Comcast XFINITY, Cox, Midcontinent Communications, Optimum, Google Fiber and Verizon FIOS.

Unless you have a penchant for really old, obscure movies and television shows, you probably won't find much motivation to spend $9.99 a month for the Warner Archive channel. You can get a two-week free trial, but it requires a credit card. You'll need to remember to cancel before the trial period is over so you don't get charged.

Before starting a free trial, you may want to look for the movies you'd like to see on the free movie stations along with any premium services you already subscribe to. The Warner Archive channel does have a selection of Charlie Chan movies, and a rather small panel of pre-code flicks. The only TV shows that look like they might interest some viewers are "Superman," "Hawaiian Eye" and "77 Sunset Strip."

Unless you dig schmaltzy reality shows and movies, you can pass by the Lifetime channel, too. However, unlike most Roku versions of cable TV channels, Lifetime does offer a fairly large collection of unlocked material. You can get full episodes and clips of some movies and shows like "Catering Wars," "Dance Moms," "Drop Dead Diva" and "Project Runway" without any cable or satellite subscription.

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