Adding The Apple TV To My Roku TV Was “Interesting”

Yesterday the Apple TV app for Roku devices was released. Since my wife and I have a fair amount of Apple gear in our home, and we have a TCL TV that is powered by Roku, we decided to add the app to our TV.

Now downloading the Apple TV app was straightforward based on the instructions provided by Roku.:

  • Press the Home button on the Roku remote.
  • Scroll up or down and select Streaming Channels to open the Channel Store.
  • Select Search Channels.
  • Begin entering Apple TV. If you don’t get the result, your device may not support the channel.
  • When you see the channel, use the directional pad on your Roku remote to highlight Apple TV.
  • Press the OK button OK button on Roku remote to view details.
  • Select Add Channel.

The next part was to start the channel up and add our respective Apple IDs to the channel so that we could buy, rent, or use purchases. That’s where things got “interesting.” Here are the instructions provided by Roku. And because I am the tech guy in the relationship, I went first in terms of doing the following:

  1. Launch the Apple TV channel.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Accounts.
  4. Select Sign In.
  5. Two sign-in options appear on your TV.
    1. Choose Sign In On Mobile Device to sign in using your smartphone. You can either navigate to and enter the code displayed on your TV, or scan the QR code that appears. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the sign in process.
    2. Or, you can choose Sign In On This TV and enter your Apple ID directly on your TV screen using your Roku remote.
  6. If you do not have an Apple ID, select Create an Apple ID. You can either navigate to and enter the code displayed on your TV, or scan the QR code that appears. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the sign up process. You will be signed in automatically once you are finished.

At step 5 I chose option “a” and scanned the QR Code using the camera app on my iPhone. That opened a browser which required me to enter my Apple ID and password. At that point a notification popped up on both my iPhone and Apple Watch asking me to confirm that I was actually logging in. I did so, then it asked me to enter a six digit number. Now this is Apple’s two factor authentication which is meant to protect your Apple ID from being taken over by someone who wants to buy music or movies, or just make your life miserable. I memorized the six digit code and tried to enter it. Except that it didn’t recognize the code. So I sent myself a new code and tried again. And got the same result. This time I thought about it and the light bulb came on. Because I was signing up on my iPhone, I was clearing the notification which must be clearing the code that it was sending me which in turn made it invalid when I entered it. So I sent a third code to myself and this time I used my Apple Watch. I noted that the notification popped up on both my iPhone and Apple Watch, but disappeared off of my iPhone when I started to interact with it on my Apple Watch. This time I was successfully able to enter the code and my Apple ID popped up on the TV.

I thought at this point I could declare victory and have a beer. But fate had other ideas as the Apple TV app then promptly crashed and I was forced to reboot the TV to get any amount of control on it. When I got back into the Apple TV app after the reboot, my Apple ID was not present and I had to go through the above process again to add it.


After doing that I exited the Apple TV app and re-entered the app to confirm that my Apple ID was still there. At this point I could deem this a success. Then I had my wife go through the same exercise. And in the interest of science I didn’t tell her about my experience. Unsurprisingly she ran into exactly the same issues with dealing with Apple’s two factor authentication that I did. After talking her through that, she was successful in terms of adding her Apple ID.

Now what we perhaps should have done to make our lives easier was not to use the QR code method, but instead go to and enter the code displayed on the TV instead. That may have yielded better results. I will test that shortly and update this post with the results. But as it stands, using a mobile device to connect your Apple ID to the Apple TV app on Roku appears to only work when you have multiple devices handy. In our case the iPhone and Apple Watch. That seems to be a bit of an oversight that really needs to be corrected as it truly makes the on boarding experience frustrating. Which means that people might give up and not want to use the Apple TV app on Roku. My advice to Apple and Roku is to look at this and see if this could be improved.

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