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Watch films and TV online in 2019

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Streaming your favourite films and TV shows does not need to be a shady operation. You do not need to find an extremely risky looking site, navigate through inappropriate adverts, and eventually select a stream that looks like it was filmed with a potato. 

You can watch films and TV for free through legitimate online streaming sites, and it’s completely legal. So as much as you might feel like an international hacker or spy when hunting down a barely watchable stream, it really isn’t necessary with the wide range of options out there. 

There are a lot of aspects to consider when selecting an online streaming service. You need to think about cost, download limits, and what exactly you can watch with the service, obviously. It’s important to think about all of these considerations carefully before you jump in and commit. Luckily, we can walk you through the process.

The biggest and most recognisable names in online streaming will invariably offer free trials of their services. This means you can watch that series everyone is talking about for nothing. For example, we saw absolutely loads of crafty Game of Thrones fans signing up for a free trial of HBO, in order to watch the latest episodes as soon as they were released. If you choose to go down this road, it’s essential that you cancel before the trial period ends, unless of course you want to continue with the service (for a fee).

You have even more options available to you if you are happy to shell out a monthly fee for unlimited access to films and TV shows online. It’s unlikely to cost you more than £10 a month, and you can enjoy the best the web has to offer, including some new releases. Better yet, you won’t have to risk infecting your laptop or PC with some horrendous virus ever again.

This is our rundown of the best streaming sites in the UK.

Best subscription streaming sites

Selecting the right streaming service for you is not a simple task, because there are so many variables when it comes to how you watch, what you watch, and what a service can offer. There’s also the small matter of price to think about.

We have done a lot of the hard work for you, and tracked down the best subscription services for you. We have attempted to outline the positives and negatives of each service, with reference to all the most important things you need to consider before committing.


Exclusive TV shows • Discounts for Prime members • Extra bonuses with Prime membership

You will get more new releases with other services, but Amazon Prime Video is great as part of a Prime membership.

1. Amazon Prime Video

Thousands of films and TV shows to stream instantly to your device, with extras like free delivery with an Amazon Prime membership.

Amazon Prime Video has literally thousands of films and TV shows for you to stream instantly to your device, including a bunch of exclusives like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and The Grand Tour
You won’t get the same number of new releases as with some of Amazon Prime Video’s competition, but you will get a whole load of great bonuses if you’re also a Prime member, like free and one-day delivery with Amazon, and access to special deals.
It costs £9.99 per month, but Prime members do have the option of some discounts. Members can pay £7.99 a month, saving £2, or £79 upfront for a whole year, saving a total £6.58 per month.


Kids option • Day Pass for Sky Sports • Comprehensive selection

There are cheaper options out there, but you will be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive service.

2. Now TV

Service covers movies, entertainment, sports, kids, and all-important reality shows.

Now TV covers pretty much everything, including movies, entertainment, sports, kids shows, and reality TV. If you think you need a Sky TV subscription to watch, then you’d be wrong.
It’s really easy to set up an account, and then you can pick and choose which service you require. For example, you can get an Entertainment Pass for just £7.99 a month, with access to 11 live channels not available on Freeview, like Sky Atlantic and Comedy Central. 
If sport is more your thing, a Sky Sports Pass provides temporary access to all Sky Sports channels. It’s a little more complicated when it comes to packages, with four options to consider. A Day Pass will set you back £7.99 for 24 hours, which is pretty pricey, but worth it if there’s a major event you need to see. The Week Pass is £12.99 for seven days, and the Month Pass costs £33.99. Alternatively, you can pay £5.99 a month for the Mobile Month Pass, with access to five Sky Sports channels on your smartphone.
The Sky Cinema Pass has more than 1,000 films to choose from, and costs £9.99 a month. You get access to 16 new premieres a month for this fee. The Kids Pass is the cheapest option at £3.99 a month and includes six live channels including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. 
Now TV offers a preety comprehensive covering of TV and film, for everyone in the family.


Great 4K support • Cheap • Easy to set up

Other streaming sticks are cheaper

The Roku Streaming Stick offers a comprehensive 4K streaming solution for a low fee.

3. Roku

Everything you could ever want in a 4K streamer.

4K TVs are one of the must-have items of the last few years, and due to their increased popularity and affordability, many sites like Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube are offering bigger and better 4K libraries.
The problem is that accessing films and shows on a smart TV isn’t always a simple experience. You often need a streamer like a Roku Streaming Stick to make things simple. 
This device is incredibly easy to set up, and offers all your favourite apps in one place. On the 4K front, there’s support for services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. As for non-4K content, the Roku Streaming Stick provides access to BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, and more. 
It’s also pretty cheap, coming in at around £50. There’s plenty of competition in the 4K Stick market, but Roku is holding its own.


Good price • Discover movies you aren’t familar with • Established service

Limited selection of movies • Only stay for 30 days

There might be a slightly limited selection, but Mubi is a great resource for film buffs.

4. Mubi

One of the more established streaming alternatives to Netflix.

If you haven’t heard of Mubi, then you might be surprised to know that it’s one of the more established streaming services out there, and was founded over 10 years ago.
Mubi is a little bit of a different idea to most of the other streaming sites listed here. A film is picked out every day and remains in Mubi’s catalogue for 30 days in total. This means that you have a choice of 30 films for your monthly subscription. So it doesn’t include as many films as Netflix, and the films you have to choose from might not be to your liking.
It might not be for everyone, but if you’re big into your movies, it’s a great way to discover more titles, and perhaps ones you wouldn’t normally come across. HD streams are crisp and stable, even with older films, and it only costs £5.99 a month. That fee gives you access for five devices and two screens.

Best packages for box sets on demand

This streaming site business is all well and good, but if you’re already paying for a TV package, you may be questioning why you need to then sign up for an online streaming service. Well, the good news is that you may be able to watch your favourite box sets on demand through your set-top box. A lot of these packages come with online services as standard. If you didn’t know before, now you do.


Already comes with Freeview • Catch-up service

Not cheaper than standalone Netflix

Add Netflix to your BT package and keep things simple.

5. BT

Add Netflix to your BT package and enjoy all the wonders of arguably the biggest streaming service.

You don’t always need to sign up to an online streaming service if you already pay for a TV package. You may be able to watch box sets on demand through your set-top box, for a small additional fee.
A BT package comes with BT TV. This is essentially just Freeview with catch-up. It doesn’t come with an on-demand service, but you can add Netflix to your BT package for a little extra money. 
There is usually a deal available, so keep an eye out for that, but adding Netflix normally costs £5.99 a month for one device. The price increases if you want to watch on more than one device. The prices generally mirror Netflix’s own rates.


Watch on the move with Sky Go • Good value • New shows added every week

Not the best for new releases

Tough to beat when it comes to range of box sets and price, but let down by lack of new movie releases.

6. Sky

Sky’s Box Sets add-on provides access to over 350 box sets.

A great way to enjoy box sets through your set-top box is to invest in Sky’s Box Sets add-on. You get instant access to Sky On Demand, meaning you can watch over 400 box sets, including family favourites like Modern Family
If you couple your Box Sets add-on with a Sky Cinema subscription, you’ll also get access to Sky Cinema On Demand, with more than 1,000 titles available to watch whenever you wish.
Sky Box Sets only costs £5 a month on top of your Sky subscription. It’s not a lot to pay for uninterrupted episodes of hit shows, series on demand, and new shows added every week. You can even watch on the move with Sky Go.


Access to Netflix • Classic movies

PictureBox Boost doesn’t cost a lot more per month, but given the limited selection of shows you may be best off looking elsewhere, unless you are into classic movies.

7. TalkTalk

TalkTalk TV customers can upgrade their package to watch classic movies and great TV shows.

If you already pay for a TalkTalk package, you’ll have access to TalkTalk TV. This isn’t all that’s available to customers though, as upgrades are possible.
Customers can upgrade their package with a PictureBox Boost for an extra £5 a month. This means you can watch hit shows as well as 60 classic movies. The £5 a month fee isn’t fixed either, as TalkTalk often run promotions for existing customers.
TalkTalk customers can also get access to Netflix via their TalkTalk YouView box. You will need to subscribe to Netflix the normal way for £5.99 a month, after a free trial of course.


Wide selection of content • Virgin TV Anywhere • Access to Netflix

There are cheaper packages out there, but when it comes to on-demand content, Virgin Media is tough to beat.

8. Virgin

Get access to thousands of hours of content on demand through your Virgin TV box.

If you already pay for a Virgin Media package, you will know all too well that Virgin Media TV provides access to around 4,000 hours of content on demand through the TV box. That is a massive amount of content. 
Some Virgin TV packages also include Sky channels, meaning you’ll also get access to Sky’s on-demand content. It does depend on which Sky channels you have access to, but still, that’s even more to watch at your convenience.
With Virgin’s bundle subscriptions you’ll also get a TiVo box through which you can access Netflix for the usual price, and Virgin Movies offers a pay-per-view service from £3.99. This has more than 500 titles available.
Virgin TV Anywhere works like Sky Go and lets you watch TV on other devices. So there is no limit to where and when you can watch Virgin Media’s range of on-demand services.

Best services to buy or rent new releases

Another means of legally streaming films and TV shows is through a one-off payment to certain sites, rather than signing-up to a contract. When a new Hollywood blockbuster is released, some sites offer you the chance to watch for a fee. It’s usually around £5 a film, and sometimes you can download it to watch again at your leisure. If not, they are usually available for a set time period.


Only pay for what you watch • No need for a subscription

iTunes has a larger selection • Films only available for 48 hours

You may be better off paying for a subscription service if you want to watch movies more than once, but the Sky Store has plenty of choice for non-subscribers.

9. Sky Store

Sky Store films are usually available in full HD.

You don’t need to subscribe to Sky to enjoy all that the Sky Store has to offer. 
The Sky Store has a smaller selection than iTunes, but with around 5,000 movies and TV episodes, including all the latest movies available to Sky subscribers, it’s still a strong option.
The thing with renting new releases is that the films are only available for a set period of time after you press play. For the Sky Storre, that period is 48 hours. You can rent new releases as they become available on Sky for £5.49, while older movies start at £3.49.

Best free film and TV streaming sites

If you are looking for a streaming site that provides access to all the latest releases, then you’ll need to pay up. We’re sorry, but that’s life. 

If you’re actually content with watching older films and shows, you can sign up to some great online streaming sites without digging into your pocket. For example, you can watch loads of free box sets on Channel 4’s catch up service All 4 and BBC’s iPlayer, with some classic shows like Peep Show and Peaky Blinders available to watch whenever you want. Don’t forget that you do need a TV license to watch iPlayer, though.


Selection of popular box sets • No need for TV licence

You can’t really complain about the adverts when you pay absolutely nothing for such a great selection of popular shows on demand.

10. All 4

A service with an impressive number of box sets available for free.

All 4, Channel 4’s catch-up service, has a really impressive number of box sets available for absolutely nothing. They range from classic sitcoms to popular TV shows like Made in Chelsea.
All you need to do is register for free, and away you go. To watch the shows you will need to sit through adverts before and during, but you don’t need a TV licence like with BBC iPlayer.

Easy to register • Free • Advert-free

Doesn’t include every series of certain shows • Need a TV licence • Shows only available for a limited time

Once you have a TV licence you can catch up on your favourite BBC shows completely free of charge.

BBC iPlayer is completely advert-free, and includes films and TV shows that have been shown recently on one of the BBC’s channels. 
There are a couple of catches. Shows are only available online for a limited time (usually around 30 days), and you do need a TV license to watch.
Register for free and enjoy a decent selection of box sets, whenever you want.

Free • Regular updates • No need to register

No new releases • Lengthy adverts

If you are happy to sit through some lengthy adverts, then Viewster has a bank of regularly updated fims to enjoy for free.

12. Viewster

Free films and TV shows but you do have to sit through adverts.

Viewster has a host of free films and TV shows for you to enjoy. No, it doesn’t have all the latest releases, but it’s free guys.
You don’t even need to register to watch the free films. You will be forced to watch about five minutes of adverts per two-hour film, but that’s a small price to pay. 
Viewster updates its service with new titles regularly, so there’s always something new to enjoy.

Ok, so before you make your selection, we have a final few words of warning. You need to consider which service suits your needs the best, how you are intending on watching the service, and whether your broadband is fast enough to cope.

Firstly, make sure you choose the one that best suits what you want to watch, so think carefully about how often you’re planning to use it, how much you are willing to pay, and whether you need the latest releases. These are probably the most important factors to mull over.

Next, you’ve got to ensure that your broadband is fast enough to stream video content. It might seem obvious but your streaming service isn’t much good if it’s going to buffer through an entire movie. Also, if your broadband package has a download limit, make sure it’s a generous one. Otherwise, you could end up with an unpleasant charge you weren’t expecting.

Lastly, you need to think about how exactly you’re going to watch whatever it is you’re streaming. It doesn’t have to just be through your PC or laptop. Nowadays, you can watch on your TV, smartphone, and tablet. If you want to stream directly onto your TV then you’ll need to make sure it’s a web-enabled smart version. Don’t worry too much if you don’t have a smart TV though, because you can still hook it up to your computer and watch that way.

Heed these warnings and stream your favourite shows without fear of repercussions. Your days as a dodgy hacker are over.

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