One of my more popular posts on this website is The Wonderfully Weird Channels on the Roku which was about the more obscure offerings on my favorite set-top streaming box. Sadly, my first suggested channel which was an unofficial portal to the fabulous Internet Archive has been retired. The Archive is a treasure trove of audio, video and text works that have lapsed into the public domain. It’s all available online to peruse or download via a typical web browser, and, until recently, it used to be available to watch as a channel on the Roku. Fortunately, there are a couple of workarounds where you can still enjoy the offerings of the Archive from the comfort of a living room or man cave.
These workarounds are not ideal in that they require another piece of equipment rather than a built in channel, but it may be worth watching this way instead of hunched over a computer or laptop screen.
I’m using a 2014 MacBook Pro using macOS 11.7.9 so chances are good that you have something newer. I’ve used an iPad using iPadOS 16.6 as well, and it works the same way. Fire up the Safari web browser on either one of these devices and head over to Archive.org. From there you could either do a search which may be daunting because of the sheer magnitude of stuff contained within or you could just head to the video section and poke around there. You’ll find a number of categories such as horror, film noir and classic television programs as well as tons of obscure items. You’re on your own.
Once you find what you want to watch, you can start it playing on your browser, and you’ll notice these small icons along with the video controls at the bottom of the video. The icon I have circled in red will cast or beam the video to another device. In my case, I am sharing the video to my Roku via AirPlay. It starts playing on my TV which is attached to the Roku, and it looks and sounds great. It’s also commercial free which seems to be a rarity among Roku channels both big and small.
Of course, if you want to watch commercials, you have that option at the Archive as well.
Click the white arrow above for the show!
I was going to offer another workaround in the form of an application called B-Movies that was available for the iPad, but it looks like it’s no longer available which is a shame. It was a search application connected to the Internet Archive’s video catalog. If you found something you wanted to watch, it could be viewed through the application or it had similar controls where you could cast the media to a Roku or similar device. I downloaded it to my iPad a while back, and I still have it. I still use it.
Ultimately, there is more than one way to skin that proverbial cat. The wonderful weirdness is still readily available for the Roku. You can find it all from the great to the God-awful at the Internet Archive.