Top 25+ Best Free Streaming Sites and Services In The UK Today
♦ 30 Best Free Streaming Sites For Watching Movies & TV Shows Online
♦ Top 30+ Totally Free Apps to Watch Movies Online
What is online streaming?
Streaming lets you watch films and TV online instantly. You don't download the content, but play it live on your device – such as a smart TV, laptop or iPad – via your internet connection. This gives you immediate access to a huge catalogue of films and TV series. It's not for everyone though, so make sure you'll actually watch the content before signing up – many offer free trials so you can try before you buy.
With so many streaming services out there these days, it’s easier than ever to watch movies online. However, the costs quickly start to add up, whether you’re looking at a Sky subscription or a streaming service like Netflix – unless you find places to stream movies online for free.
Some services (like Amazon Prime Video, NOW, etc’) offer limited-time free trials – which is nice, but you still can’t really call it FREE.
Luckily, there are a lot of totally free movie websites as well – yes, you can actually stream movies for free these days, and we’re not just talking about old classics from 100 years ago – you can even find some blockbusters to stream without paying a single pound.
How Can I Watch Free Channels In The UK?
If you’re used to getting your TV from Sky or one of the other pay-TV companies, then that’s where you’ve been getting your free channels as well (the BBC channels, ITV, etc.). When you cut the cord, can you still keep watching these channels?
There are several ways to watch the free, over-the-air channels – online via the internet, with the Freeview service, the YouView service, or the Freesat service.
Most streaming boxes (and certainly the ones I’ve mentioned here) already come with dedicated apps for the big UK free channels, or you could use your laptop. Some of the free content available online:
• BBC iPlayer
• ITV Hub
• Channel 4’s All4
With these apps and websites, you can stream programmes from your favourite free channels, directly to your TV, via the internet (just like with Netflix).
Watch TV In The UK For Free With Freeview
Freeview, a joint venture of the BBC, Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, is the United Kingdom’s digital terrestrial television platform. It lets you watch over 80 free, over-the-air channels, without any subscription fees (except for an annual TV licence).
Freeview is perfect for cord cutters, because it complements your streaming services with live channels. While it’s true that with Freeview, you still need to follow TV schedules and watch stuff on THEIR time (unless you use a Freeview Recorder or their 7-day catch-up service with Freeview Play), sometimes you just want to watch the news or a major live event, or just sit back and flip some channels – so Freeview is perfect for that.
To get Freeview, you need two things:
An aerial (either an outdoor one on your roof/outside wall, or an indoor aerial connected directly to your telly) – See our Best Indoor Aerial For Freeview review roundup.
A Freeview receiver – If you have a newish TV, manufactured and sold in the UK after 2010, it should already have a Freeview tuner built-in. Otherwise, or if you want more advanced features, you would need a dedicated tuner – see our Freeview Boxes review roundup.
With the right box (such as the Manhattan T3-R), you can also get Freeview Play – a combination of over-the-air channels and programmes on-demand via the internet, giving you access to the BBC’s iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5, all in one device. Of course, if you already have a decent streamer, you would already have these apps on that device.
Can I watch live UK TV abroad?
Technically no, but in practice, yes. The fact is, almost none of the UK TV providers allow you to access their services if you’re not in the UK (you’re ok if you’re in the Channel Islands, though).
The same goes for services such as TVCatchup and TVPlayer.com.
The only way around this is to run a VPN app and select a server in the UK so that the TV app or website thinks you’re in the UK and will allow you to watch. Don’t forget you’ll need a TV license
You can read our roundups of the best VPN services for Android and iOS, but if you want a quick recommendation, then try NordVPN, ExpressVPN or PureVPN which all have apps for both types of phone.
If you’d prefer not to install an app at all and just use your Android or iPhone’s built-in VPN support, then try out Hidden24 which has a handy UK server.
There is one exception to this: Sky currently allows you to stream TV in the EU on a compatible mobile device. You must be a Sky subscriber, of course and we’re focusing on free UK TV in this article.
Top 20+ Best Free Streaming Sites and Services In The UK Today
YouTube gets an honourable mention, because there are indeed A LOT of free movies you can stream for free in there – but… they’re often hard to find.
With millions and millions of clips and titles, YouTube is also full of movies that get uploaded illegally – and it’s often hard to distinguish between what’s under copyright and what’s not.
2. BBC iPlayer
BBC iPlayer is run and owned by the BBC, and has access to hundreds of TV series, films and documentaries available to watch live or on-demand. All BBC channels including BBC 1, BBC 2, BBC 3, BBC 4, CBBC, CBeebies, S4C, News, Alba, Parliament, Scotland and Radio 1 are available. There are also plenty of old classics and new movies to watch, and there are tons of TV series too, including Peaky Blinders, Normal People, Conversations With Friends, Line of Duty, Silent Witness, Pretty Little Liars and more. For more details, here are 3 reasons why you should consider cancelling Netflix for BBC iPlayer.
3. ITV Hub
Similar to BBC, ITV Hub has access to all TV series, films and documentaries shown on ITV. The most popular shows you can find on the ITV Hub are reality shows like Love Island, Britain’s Got Talent, The Only Way Is Essex and The Masked Singer. Classic 2000s TV shows are also available to watch in full, including The OC and One Tree Hill. You can also watch BritBox ad-free on ITV Hub too.
READ MORE: Top 10 Best Streaming Sites to Watch MLB with Low Paid or Free-Trial
4. Channel 4
On demand UK streaming service with regular turnover of popular free movies. The UK’s Channel 4 has an on-demand service with excellent free movies. You only have to register an account.
Its movie section, Film4, offers a selection of top international cinema. To find movies go to Categories > Film. There are 80 movies at any given time and turnover is frequent.
A couple minutes of ads occur if you don’t pay for a premium account. These ads are more annoying than most because they pause if you leave the window or open another tab, forcing you to watch them.
|Channel 4 movie highlights: |
• Bad Boys for Life
• Hell or High Water
• Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
5. Rakuten TV
As the name indicates, this is the freeview bit of Japanese-owned streaming platform Rakuten TV follows the standard model of ads during the movies. The selection isn’t earth-shattering – you’ll need to subscribe or rent from the wider Rakuten library – but there’s a tonne of rom-coms and one or two classics to stumble upon.
Best films currently streaming: ‘The Big Short’, ‘Begin Again’, ‘Imperium’, ‘The King of Comedy’
6. All 4
All 4 has access to live and on-demand TV series, films and more from Channel 4, More 4, Film 4 and E4 channels. There are tons of box sets to watch from and some of the most popular shows you can find are Derry Girls, Made In Chelsea, The Big Bang Theory, The Inbetweeners, ER, Smallville and Charmed.
The final free streaming service that’s from a TV network provider is My5. Channel 5 is well known for its soaps like Neighbours and Home and Away, and documentaries like Police Inspectors, Inside the Force 24/7 and The Yorkshire Vet. All of the streaming services mentioned above are available to watch and stream via the app, which can be found on your TV, phone or tablet.
Previously named IMDb TV, Freevee is the new free streaming app from Amazon Prime. You don’t have to pay for Amazon Prime to watch it and you don’t need a subscription, but you will have to watch a few ads. There are plenty of series and films to watch, including Bosch: Legacy, Alex Rider, The West Wing, Hell’s Kitchen and more.
9. Pluto TV
While most of the services in this list offer on-demand movies (and TV shows), Pluto is different, in that it focuses on a long list of “live” channels. You still stream them via the internet – but they work just like live TV channels, where you can only watch what’s streaming RIGHT NOW.
If you miss that live TV experience of flipping channels and dropping in on whatever’s airing at the moment, Pluto will scratch that itch. They also offer, however, a limited selection of on-demand movies.
Reelgood is a free streaming service that gives streamers access to Netflix, Disney+, BBC, Prime Video, NOW TV and 20+ others all in one app. TV shows and movies are available on demand and Reelgood has rental options and notification updates for new episodes.
Plex is a free website that you can watch anytime and with no subscription required. It has over 50,000 free and on-demand films and TV shows, and 250 live TV channels. There are plenty of indie and old films as well as new and modern films. If you upgrade to Plex Pass, you get more content but you will have to pay £3.99 a month.
Another on-demand streaming video service is Kanopy. Kanopy partners with universities and public libraries to bring users ad-free films and series that you can watch on your TV, phone, tablet or online. You can watch documentaries, classic cinema, indie and foreign films and educational videos and programmes.
13. Channel 4 Films
Channel 4, the free commercial broadcaster, is a great curator of films. Not only that, they also back films via their Film4 production company.
While Channel 4 is normally available live, via Freeview, it’s also available to watch on-demand via the “All4” service.
Xumo is a free streaming service that almost acts like a TV. It has access to 180+ premium channels, including live news, sports, events, TV series, cartoons and viral videos. It can be accessed on many different platforms and devices and is a great way to catch up on news and sports throughout the day.
15. My5 Films
Another free-to-watch commercial channel that normally airs on Freeview, Channel 5 also has an on-demand service, called My5.
It’s totally free (with adverts), and you just need to register for an account. Then, you can stream the movies directly from the website, or via the app, which is available on many streaming devices.
16. The Internet Archive – Feature Films
The Internet Archive is a free digital library that includes a massive collection of digital books, games, old websites, and – movies.
All the movies available to stream for free on the Internet Archive are in the Public Domain – so most of them are pretty old. But you can find a lot of real classics there, as well as strange titles you’ve never heard of.
READ MORE: Top 5 Most Popular Streaming Services in the US
17. IMDb TV
For a long time, IMDb TV (which is owned by Amazon) was only available in the US – but thankfully, in 2021, it launched in the UK as well.
The premium service features licensed content from a variety of studios and production companies, as well as original productions.
Therefore, it has a lot of films you’ve actually heard of, such as Zero Dark Thirty, Chicago, American Beauty, A Streetcat Named Bob and many others.
And, everything is free to watch – but with advert breaks.
It’s available both as a Prime Video Channel, which you can access directly on your browser or with a standalone app which is currently available for Amazon Fire TV devices. And while you do need a (free) Amazon account – you DON’T need to be a Prime subscriber.
Plex is a normally a popular personal media streamer, that helps people organise and watch their own media (see our full Plex review). However, they also launched two services with free content – the on-demand Movies and TV section, and the Live TV section.
The on-demand Movies and TV part of Plex offers an eclectic list of movies you can watch for free (with adverts). In the US, the list includes many known titles – but in the UK, you would be hard-pressed to find movies you’ve heard of.
Still, they’re all free – and there are some interesting finds, especially if you’re a fan of some specific niches.
The Live TV section, which launched this year, offers live channels in a variety of topics and niches – some of which also show movies – mostly older classics and niche oddities.
Plex’ on-demand and live free movies can be streamed directly on the Plex website, or via their apps (which are available practically anywhere).
19. The Roku Channel
The Roku Channel, which launched in the UK this year (see our review), is a free service from Roku, that gives you thousands of free movies, TV programmes and kids content on demand.
The Roku Channel in the UK features a selection of popular global and British content. Most of the movies are pretty old or obscure, but there are some classics, especially if you like specific niches like horror.
Formerly known as ‘W4Free’, Wedotv is the UK version of a service with several versions of free movie streaming sites around Europe. Everything is free – but with advert breaks.
The site currently offers hundreds of movies on-demand, as well as some TV series. The films are divided into categories, and they have a nice selection of genre films, such as horror and crime.
As is usually the case with free streaming, you’re not likely to find any blockbusters or many films that you’ve heard of – but you might find a few hidden gems.
21. Top Documentary Films
If you’re looking to learn something, you’ll find thousands of full length documentary films, as well as series and shorts, divided into categories – from history to health, sports, nature and the list goes on and on.
While the user interface makes finding things a bit messy, we like the fact that each documentary has a long description, and often also user ratings and reviews – so it’s easier to decide what to watch.
Many of the films are simply embedded from YouTube – but the fact that someone took the time to curate all these selections, makes things so much more comfortable.
Filmzie is yet another service with free films (and TV shows), with advert breaks, but there’s one thing that sets it apart from some of the others – there are lots of indie films here, and Filmzie say they pay the filmmakers for the views, so you’re supporting the people who made the film when you’re watching.
23. Films for Action
This is another great collection of documentaries, with their official goal being “to provide citizens of the world with the information and perspectives essential to creating a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.”
Another ad-financing streaming service, this Swiss-owned platform was rebranded and relaunched in April with big plans ‘to be the main provider of curated free films, television and sports across the world’. It’ll probably need to ramp up its movie library to achieve the film part of that mission statement, but a mixed bag mainly comprising of obscure actioners and throwaway crime thrillers, has some really good stuff too. A dig around will be rewarded.
Best films currently streaming: ‘Two Days in Paris’, ‘Shattered’, ‘Ghost World’, ‘The Good, the Bad, the Weird’, ‘Once, ‘Half Nelson’
The ‘break glass in case of emergency’ choice, Channel 5’s streaming platform offers a very Channel 5-y selection of films. It’s a small line-up and mostly worth swerving, but there are usually one or two pearls among the straight-to-DVD stuff. Again, it’s an advertising model but there’s not too many to sit through.
Best films currently streaming: ‘The Sixth Sense’, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’
On Crackle, you can watch free TV shows, movies and other content, although you’ll have to watch a few ads here and there. There’s a huge amount of content on offer, plus Crackle is one of the few free services that make their own original programming.
Like Peacock, there are both paid and free versions of Sling TV. Sling Free has access to both live and on-demand TV series and channels, including AMC, ABC News Live, CBSN, Discovery, IFC, Showtime and more.
The best streaming site for free movies, Tubi is owned by Fox and has a large library of films and some series that rotate regularly. You don’t need to register for an account to watch Tubi, but you will have to sit through some adverts and the resolution is slightly lower than other services.
There are multiple options for Peacock streaming, including free, premium with ads and premium ad-free. The free version of Peacock features over 13,000 hours of content and you only have to put up with watching five minutes of ads an hour. Peacock is also available through Sky subscriptions and you can access the Peacock app on Apple and Android devices.
Best paid streaming services in the UK
Amazon Prime Video, £8.99 per month after 30-day trial
Disney+, £7.99 per month
Sky Q - Sky basic package, £26 per month
Netflix, £6.99 per month
NOW TV Box with 2 Month Sky Cinema Pass, £109.99 on Amazon
NOW TV Entertainment & Cinema+ Boost Free Trial, £24.98 per month
Apple TV 4K (32GB), £169 on Amazon
Apple TV+, £4.99 per month
BritBox, £5.99 per month
Hayu, £4.99 per month
|What is the best streaming service in the UK? |
There's no easy answer to what is the best streaming service because it really depends on what your taste is in film and TV, what features are most important to you, and of course, how much you're willing to pay.
If you were to really boil it down, and again, it's rarely that simple, we'd note:
Amazon Prime Video is best for: Large households, those on a budget
Disney+ is best for: Families, as well as fans of Disney, Marvel and Star Wars
Netflix is best for: Binge-watchers, film fans and lovers of original content
Hayu is best for: Reality TV fans
Apple TV+ is best for: Brand new original big-budget dramas, children's shows
NOW is best for: Recent prestige shows from Sky and HBO, plus blockbuster films on demand
Britbox is best for: Binging British boxsets
DAZN is best for: Boxing fans
Free but illegal streaming sites in the UK
Many of these services disregard copyright and licensing agreements, so using them to stream free movies could land you in legal trouble. They may also host malware and malicious content.
We recommend practicing responsible behavior and avoiding these websites based on their potential safety issues and legal implications. However you choose to stream content online, it’s wise to protect your privacy and security using a safe VPN service.
FREE BUT ILLEGAL, YOU SHOULD AVOID:
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