In one of the best pairings since chocolate met peanut butter, consumers are increasingly combining free over-the-air (OTA) TV signals from an antenna with streaming services that can largely replicate what we've traditionally received from a pay TV service.

But there's a catch. Over-the-air channels and streaming services typically aren't combined on your TV. That means you have to search for content separately, and switch inputs to see what's on live TV if you've been using a streaming service.

That's about to change, at least for consumers who own Roku TVs.

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Roku is trying to make the experience more seamless by offering a "smart guide" that integrates streaming options such as Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix with live over-the-air broadcast TV from networks such as ABC and CBS into a single DVR-style programming grid. 

This should be a welcome change for any of the 15 million TV antenna users in the United States who have Roku TVs. Although some other devices, such as TiVo's Bolt and Roamio DVRS, and AirPlay's AirPlay TV, also offer unified live TV/streaming search, Roku TVs do it without a separate box.

The changes are coming with Roku OS 8, a free update that's being rolled out to Roku TVs, as well as many Roku streaming players, this month and next. (New Roku players will be out later this month.)

Smart Guide Unites Live TV and Streaming

The new smart guide is limited to Roku TVs, but more brands are making those sets, including Hisense, Hitachi, Insignia, RCA Sharp, and TCL. (See the test results for a number of those models.)

The new smart guide lets you see local broadcast program info for up to two weeks ahead. When you search, you'll get results for both free live TV and streaming services on the same page. Streaming shows are indicated by a small purple asterisk; just click on the show you want and you'll be taken to that episode within the service.

The smart guide also includes Roku's More Ways to Watch feature, which shows you additional streaming options, such as watching a show from the beginning or seeing other episodes. 

Roku TV owners will also be able to switch inputs, tune to a broadcast channel, and access a streaming service using voice controls, either on the Roku remote or using the Roku app on a mobile device.

Another plus is that Roku's private listening feature, which lets you listen via headphones, will now include over-the-air shows as well as those from streaming services.

Not all the OS 8 improvements are solely for Roku TVs. All new Roku players, and many older one, are getting natural-language voice search capability—you simply press a button on the remote and ask for genres, actors, or specific shows and movies in a conversational tone. You'll get results from all the streaming services you use. 

Roku is also rolling out single sign-on capability for pay-TV customers across its device lineup. This means that you won't have to sign in every time you use a channel's authenticated TV everywhere app on your Roku.

The company says it is redesigning the Roku 4K Spotlight Channel with a new navigation menu and more types of content categories to make it easier to find 4K and HDR content.