Roku’s Private Listening Feature Does More Than You Think

One of the Roku mobile app’s best features is private listening, which allows you to take audio from your TV and stream directly to your phone. The feature is great for listening to your TV audio privately through a pair of wired or wireless headphones, but it can also use your phone’s Bluetooth capabilities to send the audio to your wireless speakers.

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This might be helpful if you want to connect to a higher quality speaker or soundbar in order to spread audio out across a room when you’re hosting. You can also use it to listen to the narration when you have to quickly step away from your game or to enjoy your favorite true-crime docuseries from your room. 

Here’s how to get private listening connected to your Bluetooth speaker.

Bose Home Speaker 300 on a wooden sideboard

You can easily stream TV audio to your Bluetooth speaker with Roku’s private listening feature.

Sarah Tew/CNET

1. Connect your phone to your Bluetooth device

You’ll first need to pair your Bluetooth speaker of choice with your phone. You’ll need to do this through your device settings. Here are quick rundowns on how to pair devices on iOS and Android.

the Roku remote app on an iPhone

Sarah Tew/CNET

2. Connect your phone app to a Roku device

Using the Roku mobile app, navigate to the devices tab (the icon that looks like a TV screen) to view the list of nearby Roku devices. Tap on your desired Roku device to connect to it. You’ll need to make sure your phone and TV are on the same Wi-Fi network in order for this to work.


The private listening button, under the arrow keys, looks like a pair of over-ear headphones.

Screenshot by Brian Rosenzweig/CNET

3. Turn on private listening in the Roku app

You’ll find the private listening button for the Roku app in the app’s remote section. It should be below the purple arrow keys (made to look like the physical Roku remote), and will look like a pair of over-ear headphones. Click on it.

4. Make sure audio is casting to your Bluetooth device

Even if your phone is already connected to your Bluetooth speaker, TV audio might still begin playing to the phone speaker. In this case, you’ll want to adjust your audio output from your phone’s settings. On iOS, you can easily toggle audio settings from the Control Center. It should also look fairly similar on Android devices. If you see a check mark next to your phone rather than your Bluetooth speaker, click on your speaker and the output should change.

5. Adjusting volume and syncing audio

Once you’ve got your TV audio going to your desired speaker or headphone set, you may need to adjust volume or audio. Roku TV devices may allow you to adjust volume directly from your phone, but generally, you’ll still need to have a physical remote on-hand to adjust the volume.

If you’re watching a TV show or movie, you may notice that the audio playing from your connected speaker is a little bit out of sync with the video on your TV. The Roku app has a built-in feature to adjust this. 

A cool bonus trick

It’s not consistent across all apps, but many apps like Peacock keep audio running when the TV is turned off, effectively turning the screen off rather than shutting the apps down. When you turn the TV back on, your video is still running, similar to live TV. This is great if you want to only use TV audio but are concerned about energy use.

Now, you should be all set to stream your TV audio from your Bluetooth speaker of choice. For more information on private listening, visit Roku’s support page.

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