- Roku has discontinued private channels, so they can no longer be installed or used on Roku devices.
- In their place, Roku has introduced beta channels, which let developers test channels before certifying them for the Roku Channel store.
- Beta channels expire after 120 days and only 20 users can install it at one time.
- Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.
At one time, Roku hosted so-called private channels — streaming channels that weren’t found in the Roku Channel store, but you could install as long as you knew the appropriate code to unlock and download it to your Roku device.
Roku has discontinued private channels, which means that Roku users can no longer install them nor launch ones that are already installed. Many developers used private channels as a way to beta test new channels before releasing them in the Roku Channel store, though. So in the place of private channels, Roku has introduced a new developer kit and beta channels designed specifically for this purpose.
How Roku’s beta channels are different than private channels
Roku’s new beta channels can be installed from the same location and in much the same way as the older private channels, but there are numerous differences in the new channels:
- Beta channels have a very small audience. Private channels were available to wide audiences, and the download codes were often shared widely online for thousands of users to explore. Beta channels, on the other hand, are limited to no more than 20 beta users at once. That means beta channels are truly only useful for pre-release testing.
- Beta channels expire after 120 days. Private channels could live as long as the publisher desired, but beta channels are automatically deleted from the developer’s dashboard and disabled on any Roku devices on which they’re installed after 120 days.
- Developers can’t create an unlimited number of beta channels. Roku is limiting developers to create no more than 10 beta channels with any developer account.
How to install a beta channel on Roku
Like the older private channels, Roku’s beta channels are not found in the Roku Channel Store. Instead, you add a beta channel to your Roku device via the Roku website. Keep in mind that beta channels are tools for developers to test a channel in development, and so you generally need to be a channel tester or associated with the developer team to be able to install a beta channel. You need the channel’s code, provided by the developer.
1. In a web browser, open your account page on the Roku website and log into your account, if needed.
2. In the Manage account section, click Add channel with a code.
3. Enter the code for the beta channel and click I’m not a robot. Click Add channel.
4. Click Yes, add channel.
5. The channel will be added to your account and will now appear with all the other installed channels on your Roku home screen.
Dave Johnson is a technology journalist who writes about consumer tech and how the industry is transforming the speculative world of science fiction into modern-day real life. Dave grew up in New Jersey before entering the Air Force to operate satellites, teach space operations, and do space launch planning. He then spent eight years as a content lead on the Windows team at Microsoft. As a photographer, Dave has photographed wolves in their natural environment; he’s also a scuba instructor and co-host of several podcasts. Dave is the author of more than two dozen books and has contributed to many sites and publications including CNET, Forbes, PC World, How To Geek, and Insider.