Can I find all Michigan games on Roku?

Submitted by 1464 on January 13th, 2014 at 11:44 AM

I've been debating the merits of switching from cable/satellite to streaming video from the web.  The Roku box is designed to do this (click here for Roku site).  For a one time fee, you hook up this box and can stream or access TV on demand.  The Roku site advertises many free stations, but their website is terrible in terms of giving actual information.

What would I get for free stations that have actual value?

My biggest fear is that I will miss many Michigan games.  I do not see the BTN To Go listed on their channels.  I do see ESPN listed as a free channel.  Has anyone here braved the risk of missing large swaths of the football season to save $80 a month in TV utilities?  Though at $80 a month, I could theoretically go to the bar for 12 games and still save money by not paying subscription fees to DirecTV. 

It does not seem like most network channels have jumped into this for live broadcasting.  I'd like to know if anyone out there has a Roku box, and how it actually works.



January 13th, 2014 at 11:55 AM ^

Debated doing this as well, but ended up staying with comcast. Can't get ESPN mobile without a cable or satellite TV package. Best thing to do is call comcast and threaten to switch. Got out cable/internet down from 148 to 97 a month.


January 13th, 2014 at 12:15 PM ^

just about every year.  My UVerse bill seems to go up about $10-20 once a year and that reminds me to call and tell them I'm "thinking about making a switch" and come up with some reason for leaving AT&T.  They seem to find me a discount here or there and saves me a bit for a year, rinse...repeat.


January 13th, 2014 at 11:57 AM ^

I have the Roku1.  It's awesome, but really the amount of free streaming is not a ton.  We mostly use Netflix to watch everything.  I have the Watch ESPN station, and I was able to watch the bowl game realtime (in Spanish, the English stream required a cable sub).  You can watch anything on ESPN 3 realtime, but if it's a primetime ESPN game, you have to wait for it to end before it's available (unless you "borrow" someone's cable info).  Anything on BTN is totally unavailable to my knowledge.  I've only had it less than a month though, so I'm new to it as well.


January 13th, 2014 at 12:06 PM ^

....Relying on the BTN2Go (or whatever it's Rokue equivalent would hypothetically be) is setting yourself up for frustration. I spent about a year putting up with its shit (stream cutting out, arbitrarily switching me over to another game, shitty interface) before I realized watching the game on a pixelated online stream was a better choice. 


January 13th, 2014 at 12:12 PM ^

I agree with you regarding BTN2GO. The few times I've tried to use it to watch something using the BTN2GO app something always went wrong. The most common problem is the stream would just cut off. So then you have to exit the app, relaunch it, watch another 30 second advertisement for Buick, then get treated to a choppy video stream.

After a few rounds of this I just fire up my Slingbox.


January 13th, 2014 at 12:05 PM ^

Roku by itself is pretty useless for mainstream sports.

If you want to use Watch ESPN, you'll need a cable subscription (or account+password of a relative/friend). As someone else mentioned, sometimes you'll get lucky and be able to watch a random game for free, but you can't rely on it.

If you want to watch BTN on Roku, I don't know of a solution. There's no channel for it. If you use Apple TV and have an iPhone or iPad, you can download the BTN2GO app and Airplay to the Apple TV. Once again, this requires a cable subscription.

I could be wrong, but I think Watch ESPN blacks out local games that are being broadcast on ABC, but you could always use an antenna to watch those games. (Or subscribe to Aereo if you live in an area where it's supported, like Detroit.)



January 13th, 2014 at 12:17 PM ^

I think Roku/ESPN/BTN2Go will catch up sooner or later as the exposure to the smart TV technology continues to grow.   I keep one receiver of cable and we have a Roku on another TV in the house for movies, tv shows, etc.  It gives my wife something to watch when I'm engulfed in a football game.


January 13th, 2014 at 12:20 PM ^

I don't think you'll have much luck streaming M games on a Roku or otherwise.

Last winter, I tried to ditch cable figuring I could stream basketball games on the ESPN and B1G to go apps. It turned out that a bunch of the games weren't available depending on your location, so I ended up going to the bar to watch the games. Between food and beers, I bet I actually spent more money than I would have if I kept my cable and just stayed home.


January 13th, 2014 at 12:47 PM ^

There are several things that you'll either need or be aware of:

1.  ROKU gives you video.  It plus Playon will give you live TV.  Get a lifetime license for Playon on your PC and they might even give you another ROKU.  There are Roku-provided channels and private plugins.  One of the best is  It has all the ESPN flavors as well as international sports etc together with all the other stations. It's the best $5 investment I know.

2. One of the plugins is CBSSports - BTN but mine only worked while I still had cable tv. Charter (my ISP) usually blocks live broadcasts of ESPN, MSNBC and BTN at some point in the broadcast. I haven't used it lately so I think it's still being blocked.  It will work if you use someone else's logon that has Charter cable tv.

3.I would also recommend PlayLater as it gives you full dvr capability.  Playon has a new feature called PlayCast that will feed streams off the internet to your Roku and on to your tv.  I haven't played with it yet, but I think it will be very good.

4.  My Plan B is to use for a direct stream of Michigan sports BTN or otherwise and use a cable from my pc. to my tv.  (WIFI or Bluetooth if you have newer equipment than mine.)  You can get MSNBC on  Neither of these get blocked by Charter.

5. If the game is broadcast locally, I have a Mohu HD Amplified Leaf antenna.  They just came out with one you can put in your attic or up on a tower that sounds wonderful.  If you're in a metro area, the unamplified version will get you lots of channels.  The amplified version gets me channels out as far as 60 miles, but I'm a flat-lander.

Good luck.

There are other streams that MGoBlog fans use and provide.  Best of luck.



January 13th, 2014 at 12:54 PM ^

The biggest drawback is sports. The only way to get reliable (legal) sports coverage without paying for cable/dish is to have someone give you their login credentials for WatchESPN (only available if you are already paying for a TV package) and also have solid access to the major broadcast networks over-the-air. When I lived in St. Louis this was great, I got tons of broadcast channels and they all came in crystal clear. Now that I'm in Ann Arbor, I get ABC sometimes at best.

Because of all this, I've been resorting to... unauthorized... streaming of football games most of the time. It's a pain in the ass, the picture quality usually isn't the best, the streams sometimes die for no reason in the middle of a game, generally it's not great. But it's a workable solution for times when I can't/don't want to go to a sports bar or something. Also worth noting, you would not be able to access such streams via Roku, you'd need a regular internet browser for that.

My setup is a media PC connected to our living room TV acting as a media server across our home network. I also have a Roku in the bedroom that connects to the media PC to stream content from it (look into Plex Media Server if anyone is interested in setting up something like this, it's awesome). I love this setup, and despite all its faults I will never go back to regular cable. Once I can pay a flat monthly fee for WatchESPN and HBOGO and the like, I will do that immediately, but that could still be quite a ways away.

Good luck, and I hope you join us in internet-only land. The more people who cancel their TV packages, the sooner cable companies and content providers will have to rethink the current model that really has no place in our modern internet-driven society.


January 13th, 2014 at 1:21 PM ^

Just go with chromecast, its only $35 bucks, you can do netflix and hbogo and all that fun stuff and also stream your browser to your tv if you are ok with using illegal streams.  I don't have cable and between the bars and streaming I didn't miss any football.


January 13th, 2014 at 1:57 PM ^

Personally, I would never trust installing, or really even visiting those illegal streaming site unless you are very familiar with OS and you are positive you have the machine locked down.

I have Comcast and do the very, very basic cable which includes local channels only, which is $15 per month (on top of internet access). This gives me access to Watch ESPN. As long as I don't mind watching events after they have concluded, this works great and I can watch every Michigan games on ESPN.

On top of this, I have a subscription to Sports Entertainment package which includes BTN and ESPN news, NFL, NBA, and NHL channels. All this for just $10/month. This is without having to upgrade my local only cable.

So for, $25/month, I get almost Michigan games on TV. I don't think that is too bad.


January 13th, 2014 at 3:51 PM ^

I've cabel cut and used Roku for 2 years now. 

For sports - I use a friend's fathers cable login to watch it on my computer. I also use the crappy online streams as well. If you don't mind this sort of piecemeal solutoin - go for it. Better... it forces me out to the local alumni watches so I can see the game on a big TV. 

For everything else - using a combination of my Netflix, an ex girlfriend's Hulu Plus, and my friend's father HBOGO... I have more than enough TV to watch. 

ALTERNATIVE THAT I'VE CONSIDERED - Chromecast... I think you can stream anything that is on your computer to your HDMI TV. This would, hypothetically, include all the ESPN you can watch online plus all other streaming... I think.


January 14th, 2014 at 1:56 AM ^

Get a Raspberry PI, download the RaspBMC OS (xbmc), install Mashup, go to Live Streams, enjoy.

This + what you do now (using others' logins) will get you pretty much everything your heart desires.

Of course, you can always just install XBMC on your PC, but the Pi is just more fun, IMO.


January 14th, 2014 at 7:25 AM ^

We cancelled cable months ago and use our Roku and Aereo.  For M games I've been using streams from justin dot tv.  Yes, they are pretty terrible quality but it's what I can get.  For the local stations, I really love Aereo.  The DVR feature is especially handy.