Create a Roku Channel in under an hour

Robert Blessing

February 7, 2023

Roku has more than 60 million monthly active users in the U.S. alone.
It’s the #1 OTT platform with thousands of public and private channels.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create your own Roku channel in no time.

We’ll give you all the information you need, including what video streaming solution you need, how much it will cost, how much time it will take, and what’s involved.

Whether you’re an experienced video content creator or just starting out, our goal is to make the process of creating a Roku channel as easy and accessible as possible.

Let’s get started.

Why Create a Roku Channel?

As one of the most widely used OTT platforms, Roku gives you a convenient way to deliver content to your audience.

Therefore, creating a Roku channel allows you to reach the largest TV streaming audience in the world, expanding your potential customer base.

Creating your own Roku Channel offers several benefits, such as

Increased visibility: Having your own channel on Roku will help you get noticed and reach more people.

Your content is directly accessible: By having your own channel, viewers can easily access your content without having to search for it in a sea of other content.

Generate revenue streams: A Roku channel can generate revenue through advertising, subscriptions, or in-app purchases.

In summary, a Roku channel provides a convenient and accessible way for your audience to interact with your content. This leads to higher customer satisfaction, more customer referrals, and increased revenue.

The Difference between Roku Direct Publisher Channels and a custom-developed Roku TV app

When creating Roku Channels, you have the choice of 2 different app development methods: Direct Publisher or Custom App Development.

The main difference between the two is the level of customization and control you have over the user experience, plus the level of technical skill you need to build the Roku Channel:

Roku Direct Publisher Channel: This is a simple and straightforward way to create a Roku Channel. It allows you to connect your video content and create a Roku Channel without any coding or technical expertise. The Roku Direct Publisher Channel provides a predefined template and limited customization options, making it easy to quickly set up a basic channel.

Custom Roku TV app development: This method involves creating a custom Roku channel from scratch, giving you complete control over the user experience. This method requires technical expertise, including coding skills and a deep understanding of the Roku platform. Custom Roku TV app development offers more options for customization, such as adding advanced features, integrating with other systems, and creating a unique user interface.

So Direct Publisher is a quick and easy solution for those who want to create a basic Roku channel without technical expertise, while Custom Roku TV App Development is a more advanced solution for those who want complete control over the user experience and the ability to add advanced features. It requires the help of professional Roku developers and is therefore a more complex process that cannot be completed in an hour.

In this blog post, we will focus on creating a Roku channel in just one hour. So we’ll dive into the details of the Roku Direct Publisher method.

How to Create a Roku Channel with Direct Publisher

Direct Publisher is Roku’s proprietary Roku Channel builder solution. It allows you to create a Roku Channel without coding.

Simply sign up for Roku Developer and launch the Direct Publisher application builder in the Roku Developer Dashboard. From here, you just need to connect your video content, upload some images for branding, do some color customization, and that’s it.

The most complicated part is connecting your video content.

How to get a Roku content feed

Roku does not act as a content delivery network (CDN). You need to host your videos on a third-party video hosting provider/CDN or on your own server. This sounds inconvenient, but in the end, it is a good solution because you do not have to import all of your videos into a new system.

Wondering how the connection between the CDN and the Roku channel works? How to tell Roku about your videos like video title, descriptive, thumbnail, playlist, etc.

This is all managed through your Roku content feed (also known as the Roku JSON feed).

Many CDNs provide Roku feed URLs, such as Boxcast, Streamhoster, or 5CentsCDN. This feed URL contains your Roku JSON feed code with all the metadata for your videos.

If you use Vimeo to host and archive your videos, you can use Tappla to get an extended Roku feed URL (using Tappla you are not limited to one Vimeo showcase, you can combine Vimeo with your live stream and set Roku content types & genres for each Vimeo showcase).

[If you like Roku Direct Publisher, check out our Apple TV app builder – it works with the same video feed URL you use for Roku. More info here]

So unless otherwise noted in other blog posts, you do not need to hire a developer to code your Roku JSON feed.

If you are really stuck with a CDN that does NOT provide a Roku feed, contact us and we will write the Roku JSON feed code for you for free.

The cost of creating Roku channels with Direct Publisher

Using Roku Direct Publisher is free, but you will need a CDN or Vimeo + Tappla to get your Roku feed URL.

Vimeo Standard is $20 per month and Tappla Starter is $24 per month. That’s a total of $44 per month and one of the cheapest options you can get.

A CDN that provides you with a Roku feed will cost about $99 per month.

Walkthrough / Tutorial of how to use Roku’s Direct Publisher

Direct Publisher is a Roku Channel builder that comes directly from Roku. So creating an account with Roku is the first thing you need to do.

  1. Sign in. Then navigate to your Roku Developer Dashboard. Click “Add Channel” under “My Channels“.
  1. Now you can choose to create your Roku Channel using Direct Publisher or upload your own Roku App code (Developer SDK). Select the Direct Publisher option, enter a name for your Roku Channel (you can change it later), and click “Continue”.
  1. Next, select the Channel Store country where you want your channel to appear (only select regions where you have rights to distribute your video content). Also, select the languages for which you want channel descriptions. Finally, select whether your channel is intended for children or adults.
  1. Next, you need to copy and paste your Roku feed URL. If you do not know what this is, go to the “How to get a Roku content feed” section of this blog post. We strongly recommend using a feed in the Roku JSON feed format. Why? Because it allows Roku to categorize your videos and use all of the video metadata. Also, Roku will apply different launch behavior depending on the content type you set up in your Roku feed.

[Don’t have a Roku feed yet and need a Roku feed provider? Check out Tappla’s Roku Feed Generator. It allows you to create an advanced feed in Roku’s JSON feed format, where you can merge multiple Vimeo Showcases into a single feed URL].

  1. Next is the Branding page, where you can upload your logos and branded images for your Roku Channel, and also choose your branding colors to match your style.
  2. Next, you can then choose between 2 channel layouts. Since Direct Publisher is designed for people without programming skills, it even gives you pre-built page layouts. The downside is that you have limited customization options and must stick to one of the 2 design layouts. (If you want a completely different layout, you will need to develop your Roku Channel yourself using the Roku SDK).
  3. The next step is to define the categories of your video playlists. The best practice is to define the categories in the feed. If you are using Tappla + Vimeo, you can categorize each Vimeo showcase in your Tappla dashboard. So select “from feed” in this step.

The next steps are self-explanatory and quick and easy to complete. After a few more steps and minutes, you will have created your first Roku Channel.

Summing It Up: What to Do After Reading this guide to create your Roku Channel in under an hour

That sums up how to create your own Roku Channel in under an hour. Hopefully, you got answers to all of your common Roku Channel creation questions. If you’d like to build your Roku Channel using Roku Direct Publisher and Vimeo, check out Tappla’s Roku feed solution. It allows you to combine multiple Vimeo Showcases into one Roku feed and add your live stream from 3rd party live streaming providers.

If you are also interested in building your own Apple TV, check out Tappla’s Apple TV app builder. It lets you create an Apple TV app from your Roku feed or Vimeo.


How much does it cost to create a Roku Channel?

Creating a Roku channel can cost anywhere from free to several thousand dollars, depending on the method you choose and the complexity of your channel.

Roku Direct Publisher: This method is free and a good option for video content owners with limited resources.

Custom Development: This option involves hiring a professional Roku developer to create a custom app, which can cost several thousand dollars or more, depending on the complexity of the app and the development team you hire.

Templates: Some third-party companies offer templates for creating a Roku channel, which can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the template.

It’s important to consider the cost of creating a Roku channel in the context of the potential benefits, such as increased reach, revenue, and user satisfaction. Before making a decision, it’s a good idea to do some research.

How to make money with a Roku channel?

There are several ways to make money from a Roku channel:

Subscriptions: Offer premium content that requires a monthly or annual subscription fee.

Advertising: Include pre-roll and mid-roll ads in your content to earn advertising revenue.

Pay-per-view: Charge viewers a one-time fee to access specific content, such as movies or special events.

Affiliate marketing: Partner with companies to promote their products or services through your channel and earn a commission for each sale made through your channel.

In-App Purchases: Offer premium features or virtual goods for sale within your channel, such as custom themes or virtual currency.

Sponsorships: Find companies to sponsor your channel and receive payments in exchange for featuring their products or services.

How to lease a Roku channel?

Leasing a Roku channel typically involves partnering with an existing Roku channel developer or provider to use their platform for your content. Here are the steps to leasing a Roku channel:

Research and compare different Roku channel providers to find one that meets your goals and offers the features you need.

Contact the provider to discuss the terms of the lease, including the cost, length of the agreement, and any limitations or restrictions.

Review and sign the lease agreement, which should outline both parties’ responsibilities, payment terms, and other important details.

Work with the provider to set up your Roku channel, including uploading your content, configuring the user interface, and setting up monetization strategies.

Launch your Roku channel and promote it to your target audience to increase viewership and engagement.

Can I combine Vimeo Showcase & live stream in the Roku feed?

Yes, with Tappla you can combine your live stream from any 3rd party live streaming provider and your Vimeo Showcase videos into one Roku feed URL. You can combine multiple Vimeo Showcases into one Roku feed URL. Tappla takes care of the synchronization and automatically updates your Roku feed every 24 hours.

How do I create my own Roku channel with my Vimeo videos?

Do you use Vimeo to host and archive your videos? And you want to have your own Roku Channel to let your audience watch your video content on Roku? Then connect Vimeo to Tappla to create your own Roku channel in less than an hour with no coding required.

Step 1: Sign up for Tappla and connect Vimeo

Step 2: Get your Roku feed URL from Tappla

Step 3: Go to Roku Developer and create your Roku Direct Publisher Channel with your Tappla feed URL.

Think creating your own custom streaming app for Apple TV is too difficult or too expensive? It won’t be with Tappla! Just connect your videos, upload your logo, and you’re ready to launch your own TV app for Apple TV.



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