Watch movies & TV online
Free legal streaming incl Amazon, Disney+, Netflix & Now
Online streaming sites have become a mainstay of modern life, giving access to 1,000s of movies, TV shows and box sets. We take you through the big providers and how to stream as cheaply as you can – ideal as most of us are spending a lot more time at home right now. What's more, many of the big sites, including Amazon Prime Video, offer free trials, so you can enjoy the likes of The Rings of Power, Bladerunner and The Notebook for up to 30 days for free.
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 tablet – 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.
Is online streaming safe and legit?
All the streaming sites listed in this guide are 100% legal, including the free ones.
However, there are plenty of websites online offering "free movie streaming" which aren't legal, and could put your PC/laptop at risk of viruses, malware and trojans. So it's important you know how to protect yourself, both from the security threats and the fine and/or prison sentence you could face for streaming an illegal movie.
We spoke to online security expert Graham Cluley to get his advice about online streaming:
Am I breaking the law if I stream movies online?
"It's not breaking the law if the site has permission to stream the movie. It's all to do with whether the site has struck a deal with the movie company to reproduce their movie in streaming form," says Cluley.
What should I be looking out for when choosing a site to stream online content?
"You're obviously going to feel more comfortable when visiting a site which has a well-established brand," Cluley says.
Sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video offer trusted, secure streaming services. But a quick Google for "free online movie streaming" brings up a host of illegal sites – nine times out of 10, if it's offering the latest releases for free, it's not legit. Cluley's advice? "Go with a well-established name."
What about viruses/malware? Is streaming safe?
If you're using a big-name service, like Netflix, it will be safe. But be vigilant and look out for phonies. "Hackers have in the past created websites which attempt to trick you into installing malware, on the pretext of being a video plugin," says Cluley.
"You should always run up-to-date antivirus software."
What about pop-up blockers?
"A site may ask you to disable pop-up blockers because it might prevent the playing of the video or because it plans to pop up adverts," says Cluley. "Either way, my advice would be to be wary of disabling such blockers."
For more info about protecting your PC/laptop, see the Free Antivirus Software guide.
Which services offer free trials?
Many of the bigger online streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, BritBox and Now offer free trials for up to 30 days.
That means if you're quick, you can plough through scores of movies or entire TV box sets free of charge, then cancel your subscription before the direct debit kicks in.
You can even try out the different services one after the other, giving you months of free TV and movies. Just sign up, grab the free trial, then cancel it and move on to the next. Do make sure you remember to cancel in time though to avoid paying.
If you're not that fussed about watching the latest blockbusters and just want more choice of what to watch on TV, you may find that a basic free site offers more than enough. Equally, if you want the new releases but only watch once a month, pay-per-view might be your best bet.
Where can I find the exact show I'm looking for?
If you're already a Sky TV or Virgin Media TV customer, you're likely to have access to some on-demand content as part of your deal. This could include box sets or movies and you can sometimes get streaming services added to your package – see below for full info.
How can I stream online movies on my telly?
Many smart TVs that are web-enabled use apps like smartphones and tablets and allow you to stream movies without having to connect your computer to another device. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other sites have apps allowing you to access their content quickly and easily.
Some smart TVs can also connect to your wireless hub, allowing you to share content on your laptop, tablet and smartphone directly with your TV set. Check with the manufacturer of the TV or with the streaming site itself for compatibility.
What about games consoles?
All the newest games consoles are capable of streaming TV and films when connected to the internet (either via Wi-Fi or via an Ethernet cable straight from your router).
The streaming services available to you will depend on your console, but you can watch the biggies such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on PS3, PS4 and PS5, or Xbox One and Xbox Series X and Series S. However, you can't watch Netflix or Amazon Prime Video on Nintendo Switch, so it's best to check first if you plan on doing this.
Watching on mobile? Watch your data usage
If you're using your mobile, ensure you're connected to Wi-Fi or download the shows (via Wi-Fi) first via its app. If you must stream a show with mobile data, make sure your Sim has a generous data limit. Otherwise, you'll risk being hit with added costs.
As a general rule, you need a high (or unlimited) data limit, or you could be slapped with gargantuan charges.
For example, if you're going to watch four 90-minute films a month in standard definition, you'll need a download allowance of at least 6GB. But depending on your settings, your data usage could differ massively – watching HD Netflix for an hour could eat up 3GB of data, while Ultra HD will rinse 7GB per hour.
If you want the freedom to stream on mobile data, it's worth considering a Sim with totally unlimited data. Use our Cheap Mobile Finder to find the right Sim for you.
Where can I find the exact show I am looking for?
If you are going to pay for a service, make sure you choose the one that best suits what you want to watch. Consider how often you're planning to use it, whether you want the latest releases or a library of older films and TV shows, and how much you're happy to pay.
If you're not that fussed about watching the latest blockbusters and just want more choice of what to watch on TV, you may find that a basic free site offers more than enough. Equally, if you want the new releases but only watch once a month, pay-per-view might be your best bet.
If there are specific shows or films you want to watch, check which services have them, then weigh up what the best – and cheapest – option is for you.
To help you, there's a clever free online tool, JustWatch, which catalogues what shows and films are shown on different streaming services. It includes more than 20 in total – including free ones such as All 4 and BBC iPlayer.
Basic free movie and TV streaming services
If you're looking for a long-term free option and aren't bothered about the latest releases, then there are some legit free online streaming sites (often screening older movies and shows). You can also watch plenty of free box sets on Channel 4's catch up service All 4, and (if you have a TV licence) BBC iPlayer.
Free box sets with ad breaks
Channel 4's catch-up service has an impressive number of box sets available for free, and you DON'T need a TV licence to watch these online. They range from sitcoms such as Green Wing and The IT Crowd, to popular TV shows such as Derry Girls and Catastrophe.
You'll need to register (for free) to watch the TV shows and you'll watch adverts before and during each one. If you don't want ads, you can pay £3.99/mth (or £39.99/yr) for it's All 4+ service which you can cancel anytime.
- What to watch: First Dates, Derry Girls, Peep Show, Father Ted, Green Wing
'Free' movies & box sets without ads
The BBC's ad-free catch-up service includes films and TV shows which have been shown recently on its channels. Recently broadcast shows are only available online for a limited time (usually around 30 days).
The BBC has loads of new content to stream on iPlayer, as it attempts to keep pace with heavyweight streaming companies. These include classic box sets, such as all six series of popular 'bent copper' drama Line of Duty, plus Waking the Dead, Doctor Who and Gavin & Stacey.
This is all on top of its existing collection of box sets, including Fleabag, Luther and Sherlock.
It's worth noting you DO need a TV licence to use iPlayer. You'll also need to register (for free).
- What to watch: BBC Three, Line of Duty (Series 1-6), Fleabag (series 1-2), Blue Planet II, Sherlock (series 1-4)
Below is a bit more information about each of the services, including what you can watch on each, how much it'll cost you, plus any current deals for signing up.
Top subscription streaming services
The streaming service that's right for you will depend on a number of things, such as how you're planning to watch, whether you want the latest releases or a library of older films, and of course how much you want to pay. Here's a quick comparison table to help you decide:
|Service||Price||Free Trial/intro offer?||What it includes|
|All 4+||£3.99/mth (no ads)||14-day free trial to watch without ads||100s of box sets|
|Amazon Prime Video*||From £5.99/mth (from £4.49/mth for students)||30-day free trial (students get six months free)||Popular films and TV, including Amazon Originals exclusives|
|Apple TV+||£6.99/mth||Seven-day free trial (one-month free trial with Apple One)||Apple original film and TV series including The Morning Show, Severance and Ted Lasso|
|BBC iPlayer||Free – but you need a TV licence||N/A||TV series and films shown on the BBC, plus some online-only content|
|BritBox||£5.99/mth||Seven-day free trial||Dramas, comedies, films and documentaries from the BBC and ITV|
£3.99/mth or £39.99/yr
With Eurosport & more sports coverage: £6.99/mth or £59.99/yr
|Seven-day free trial||Wide range of reality shows and documentaries|
|Disney+*||£7.99/mth or £79.90/yr||No free trial||More than 1,000 Disney films and TV series|
|ITVX||£5.99/mth or £59.99/yr (no ads)||Seven-day free trial||TV series and films shown on ITV, plus preview clips of some popular series|
|Mubi||£10.99/mth or £83.88/yr
(£6.99/mth for students)
|Seven-day free trial (30 days for students)
||30 hand-picked films a month|
|My5||Free||N/A||Shows and films from Channel 5, 5 Select, 5 Star, 5 USA and more|
|Netflix||£4.99/mth with ads (from £10.99/mth without ads)||No free trial
||Thousands of shows and movies, including Netflix Originals|
|Now Entertainment||£9.99/mth with ads (£14.99 without ads)||Seven-day free trial. Add Now Cinema and pay £12/mth for first six months (£19.98 thereafter)||More than 300 box sets plus channels that aren't on Freeview|
|Now Cinema||£9.99/mth with ads (£14.99 without ads)||Seven-day free trial. Add Now Entertainment and pay £12/mth for first six months (£19.98 thereafter)||
Over 1000 movies to watch on demand, and access to all the Sky Cinema channels. New and exclusive Sky Original films every week
|Paramount+||£6.99/mth or £69.90/yr||Seven-day free trial||This has the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series and comedy staple South Park. Included in the package are classic movies such as Mean Girls, Anchorman and Top Gun: Maverick|
|Sky Stream||£23/mth for 18-month comtract (plus £20 setup fee) or £26/mth for rolling 31-day contract (plus £39.95 setup fee)||No free trial||Over 30,000 shows on 120+ channels, including House of the Dragon, Succession and Gangs of London plus the Basic Netflix package included.|
Thousands of movies & TV series, from £4.99/mth
Netflix first hit the UK in 2012, and it's quickly become the UK's most popular subscription streaming service, allowing you to watch 1,000s of films and TV programmes via the internet, on your TV or another screen. It boasts loads of well-known series, exclusive Netflix Originals such as Stranger Things and The Crown, and a wide range of films including newer releases like The Good Nurse and Blonde.
We've a host of MoneySaving hacks to cut costs – including how to save up to £108/year and a trick to watch for just £4/month. See our Netflix hacks guide for more.
How much is Netflix and how do the plans compare?
Plan Basic with Adverts (1) Basic Standard Premium No. of screens you can watch on at the same time 1 1 2 4 No. of mobile phones or tablets you can download to 1 1 2 4 Highest definition available Standard HD Standard HD Full HD Ultra HD Downloads available No Yes Yes Yes Monthly price £4.99 £6.99 £10.99 £15.99
Signing up involves setting up a recurring payment, where you agree to let money be taken regularly from your credit/debit card. This isn't as easy to cancel as a direct debit, as you have to contact Netflix directly to cancel. It hopefully won't be an issue, but do double-check your bank statement if you cancel (see Regular Payments for a full guide).
What devices can I watch Netflix on?
Laptop, PC, smart (internet-connected) TV, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Android/Windows/Apple tablets and smartphones, Chromecast, Roku and YouView.
Can you get Netflix through Sky?
Sky can now bundle Netflix (Basic package) as part of its Sky Ultimate (Entertainment & Netflix) TV package, costing £23/mth for a minimum of 18 months. However, it's only in standard definition. If you want HD, it's an extra £4/mth which includes both Netflix (Standard package) and a range of its own HD channels, such as Sky One HD and Sky Atlantic HD among others.
100s of Disney films & TV shows – £7.99/mth (or £79.90/yr)
Not just for kids, Disney's streaming offering Disney+* launched back in March 2020 and provides access to more than 500 films and 350 TV series, including Disney classics such as The Lion King, Snow White and Frozen, and every Pixar film, including Toy Story 4 and Finding Nemo. It also has the entire back catalogue of Star Wars and The Simpsons.
From launch, superhero fans will have access to more than 30 Marvel films, including Avengers: Endgame, Oscar-nominated Black Panther, and Guardians of the Galaxy. It also offers more than 50 Marvel series, including Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Marvel's Runaways.
As well as offering access to its classic animated movies, customers can watch brand new Disney originals, including The Mandalorian and Loki, plus a whole host of documentaries and series from National Geographic and Fox TV.
How much is Disney+?
It costs £7.99/mth or, if you're willing to commit to the year, it's £79.90, which makes it slightly cheaper over 12 months.
How can I watch Disney+?
PC, Mac, smart TV (Samsung and LG), iPhone, iPad, Android devices, gaming consoles (PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S), Amazon Fire tablets, streaming devices including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Roku.
Can I add Disney+ to my Sky subscription?
Sky Q subscribers can login to their Disney+ account via the apps section on their Sky Q box now and watch it on there, or you can subscribe directly through Sky. You'll pay £7.99/mth and this will be added to your Sky bill.
Thinking of joining or already with O2? Get Disney+ for '£4/mth'
If you're thinking of joining O2 or considering upgrading your current O2 deal, some of its contract phone and Sim-only plans now allow you to redeem Disney+. What's more, you'll get three or six months for free depending on the deal you sign up to, followed by the usual £7.99/mth charge, which is equivalent to £4/mth over the 12-month period if you get six months' free, or equivalent to £6/mth if you get three months' free.
If you're already with O2 but not yet ready to upgrade, those who take out Disney+ will get £2/mth deducted from their bill, but won't get the six months free offer.
It's worth noting that new contracts, upgrading or out-of-contract pricing direct with O2 can be pricey – see our Mobile phone cost-cutting guide for how to save.
Free 30-day trial, then £5.99/mth or £8.99/mth for next-day deliveries
Amazon Prime has thousands of films and TV shows for you to stream instantly to your device, but the selection of films included in the package is only a fraction of what you could get via the now-defunct postal service.
It includes movies such as Green Book and The Imitation Game, plus TV shows such as The Grand Tour, The Walking Dead and The Man in the High Castle.
How much is Amazon Prime Video?
The basic package, which just includes Prime Video, costs £5.99 a month. If you want all the other perks like one-day delivery, it's £8.99/mth, though only content labelled 'Prime' is included. For everything else, you'll need to rent out the episode (from £1.99) or series (from £4.99) separately.
Alternatively, pay £95/year (equiv £7.92/mth) or £47.49/yr for students, which gives Prime Video plus one-day delivery on eligible items.
Free 30-day trial
New customers who sign up online can get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime Video. Just cancel either online or over the phone before the 30 days are up if you don't want to continue – otherwise you'll be charged £5.99/mth or £8.99/mth depending on which you opted for. If you opted for the yearly payment (£95), you'll be charged this at the end of the 30 days. This offer is ongoing.
The offer involves setting up a recurring payment, where you agree to let money be taken regularly from your credit/debit card. This isn't as easy to cancel as a direct debit if the company plays games. It hopefully won't be an issue in this case, but do double-check your bank statement. (See the Been charged for unwanted Amazon Prime? MSE News story for more info.)
How can I watch Amazon Prime Video?
Sky Sports, Entertainment and Cinema packages
NOW* – WATCH SKY TV WITHOUT HAVING SKY
In 2012, satellite TV giant Sky launched Now*. In effect, it's five separate services, covering movies, entertainment, sports, kids and reality shows – you don't need a Sky TV subscription to watch any of them. You get a seven-day free trial with the Cinema, Kids, Entertainment and Reality show memberships – you'll then be charged full price unless you cancel.
How much is Now?
All passes are free for the first seven days (except Sky Sports passes). After that time, you'll be charged the following:
Entertainment – £9.99/mth (this includes Kids channels that were previously in a separate package)
Sky Cinema – £9.99/mth
Hayu (reality TV) – £4.99/mth
Sky Sports – £33.99 (monthly pass), £11.98 (day plus mobile pass - access Sky Sports for 24 hours and get a nine months of mobile membership).
What Now passes are available?
Its Entertainment Membership includes 17 live channels not available on Freeview, including Sky Atlantic and Comedy Central, plus access to 300+ box sets, such as The White Lotus and Game of Thrones. The kids channels are now included in the Entertainment Membership, with six live channels, including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, plus thousands of on-demand kids' episodes,
The Sky Sports Membership allows customers temporary access to all Sky Sports channels. You have two options to choose from:
- the day pass (which lasts for 24 hours) PLUS mobile membership for nine months (this gives you access to five Sky Sports channels on your smartphone); OR
- the month pass (gives you unlimited access to all 11 Sky Sports channels)
For lovers of new films, the Sky Cinema Membership is one of the most impressive film streaming options, with more than 1,000 films to choose from. Currently, it includes The Batman, Ambulance and more.
If you're into shows like Below Deck and Keeping up with the Kardashians, the Hayu reality TV streaming membership might be for you.
How can I watch Now?
Many smart TVs come with the Now app already installed or available to download. You can see the full list of devices on the Now website.
Alternatively you can use one of its own streaming sticks. This connects to your TV via a HDMI socket, and your wireless broadband network allows you to stream direct to your TV. You can also pause and rewind (up to 30 minutes).
You can also watch it on a computer, smartphone or tablet, and you can hook it up to a TV via a games console (such as Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5), set-top box (such as YouView), HDMI cable or airplay box (eg, Apple TV).
You can register six devices per subscription, but only one can be streaming at a time. If you want to watch on more than one device at the same time, you'll need to pay £5 a month extra for Boost. It allows you to watch three devices at once, plus you can watch on-demand shows, movies and sport without ads.
Brand new original content – seven-day trial then £6.99/mth
Apple's first foray into streaming, Apple TV+ provides original content that's only available through its service.
Given that it's a relatively new service and the content is original, the amount of available content isn't currently substantial (around 150+ shows and films) and there's no known favourites there. Shows like Ted Lasso, Severance and The Morning Show have been touted as the favourites and feature stars you may recognise like Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell.
The app also enables you to watch movies and TV programmes offline by downloading them to your device for a limited period of time.
How much is Apple TV+?
You get a seven-day free trial, after which the app costs £6.99/mth to use.
If you've purchased an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or Mac from Apple or an Apple authorised reseller, you get Apple TV+ free for three months. However, you may have to act fast as you only have three months after first setting up your device to take advantage of your free period.
You can also get a one month free trial of Apple TV+ if you opt for the more expensive Apple One package, giving you Apple Music plus four other Apple services, on top of Apple TV+. But you'll need to remember to downgrade to Apple TV+ or cancel your subscription before the end of the trial, otherwise it'll cost you £16.95/mth.
How can I watch Apple TV+?
You can watch on any device that supports the Apple TV app, including all Apple devices (Apple TV, iPhone, Mac etc), smart TVs (Samsung and LG), Android devices, Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV sticks.
If you're using a Windows device, you can watch Apple TV+ via its web app, by going to its site and logging in.
Each account allows users to register up to 10 devices and stream video from six at the same time.
Original BBC & ITV content – seven-day free trial then £5.99/mth
The BBC and ITV have combined forces in an attempt to take on big streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Launched in the UK in November 2019, it has over 400 box sets and films available to watch instantly, including the Love Actually, Gavin & Stacey and Downton Abbey alongside old favourites like The Office, Faulty Towers and Only Fools and Horses.
How much is BritBox?
Sign up and you'll get a seven-day free trial, then it's £5.99/mth thereafter. There's no contract, so you can cancel at any time.
Signing up involves setting up a recurring payment. This isn't as easy to cancel as a direct debit, as you have to login to your BritBox account to cancel. Hopefully it won't be an issue, but do double-check your bank statement (see Regular Payments for a full guide).
Alternatively, you can choose to pay annually (£59.99). If you opt for the annual payment, you get a seven-day free trial. By paying annually upfront, you save 16% over the year versus paying monthly.
How can I watch BritBox?
Laptop, PC, smart TV (Samsung post-2016 and Panasonic), Apple and Android tablets and smartphones, Amazon Fire TV, YouView, and Chromecast.
Have BT Broadband or BT TV?
Have BT Broadband? New and existing BT Broadband customers can now get six-months of Britbox for free. After six months, you will be charged £5.99/mth. To claim six-months free, you can do this by logging into your BT Broadband account via this link.
Have BT TV? New and existing BT TV customers can get Britbox free for six-months. You can add Britbox to your BT TV set-top box and rowse and play BritBox content on your telly using. First you'll need to add Britbox to your BT TV account. You can do this via this link.
Note: You can't get Britbox on BT TV if you have one of the older H3 TV Boxes.
Reality shows and docs – seven-day free trial then £3.99/mth
American giant Discovery's streaming service launched in 2020 and specialises in reality TV shows and documentaries. Included in the package are reality shows including Gold Rush, 90 Day Fiancé and Ghost Adventures, as well as documentaries such as Ocean Giants and What Killed Maradona?
How much is Discovery+?
You get a free seven-day trial when you sign up, but unless you cancel, you'll be charged £3.99/mth after that. If you want to include sports channels such as Eurosport, it's £6.99/mth, and you don't get the free trial with this option. Signing up involves setting up a recurring payment, which is tougher to cancel than a direct debit as you'll have to directly contact Discovery+. You can cancel it anytime as there's no contract, but do check your bank statements just in case payments keep being taken (see Regular Payments for a full guide).
You can choose to pay annually for £39.99 or £59.99 with sports. You'll only get the seven-day free trial with the entertainment subscription (not with sports). Although it's a bigger upfront payment, paying annually will save you almost 40% on the sports package and 20% otherwise, compared to the monthly option.
How can I watch Discovery+?
Laptop, PC, smartphone, tablet, Android TV, Apple TV, Samsung TV, Amazon Fire TV, or cast directly to your TV.
Sci-fi and comedy – seven-day free trial then £6.99/mth
American giant Paramount's recently-launched streaming service is already a hit in the USA, with over 40 million users. It's the only streaming service where you can watch the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series and comedy staple South Park. Included in the package are classic movies such as Mean Girls, Anchorman and Top Gun: Maverick.
How much is Paramount+?
You get a free seven-day trial when you sign up, but unless you cancel, you'll be charged £6.99/mth after that. Signing up involves setting up a recurring payment, which is tougher to cancel than a direct debit as you'll have to directly contact Paramount+. You can cancel it anytime as there's no contract, but do check your bank statements just in case payments keep being taken (see Regular Payments for a full guide).
You can choose to pay annually for £69.90. If you choose this option, you can still get the seven-day free trial. Although it's a bigger upfront payment, paying annually will save you almost 17% compared to the monthly option.
How can I watch Paramount+?
Laptop, PC, smartphone, tablet, Android TV, Apple TV, Samsung TV, Amazon Fire TV, using Amazon Prime Video or cast directly to your TV.
Do you need to have Sky TV?
If you're a Sky TV customer and you have the Sky Cinema bundle, you can get Paramount+ free.
120+ Sky entertainment channels and Netflix combined from £23/mth
Entertainment giant Sky's latest offering is a 'puck'-style device that allows you to watch 150 live channels and 500 on-demand boxsets, plus access to Netflix - all over Wifi. Meaning you can stream must-watch shows like House of the Dragon, Succession and Gangs of London, without the need for a satellite dish or engineer visits. And no obligatory long-term contracts - which is the first of its kind from Sky.
How much is Sky Stream?
The cheapest option costs £23/mth for an 18-month contract but if you don't fancy being signed up to lengthy contracts, it's £26/mth for a rolling 31-day contract that you can cancel anytime.
You can add Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, Sky Kids and BT Sport from £6/mth, as well as skip ads on catch-up content for £5/mth. You cancel this add-on anytime with 31 days notice. You can also upgrade from Netflix Basic package to Netflix Standard for £4/mth extra. What's more, everything on Sky Stream is already in HD as standard (you can upgrade to UHD for £6/mth extra).
How can I watch Sky Stream?
You have to sign up to Sky Stream plus the Sky Entertainment package. Sky will send you its streaming device, which you simply plug into a power socket and your TV's HDMI output, connect to the broadband and you're ready to go.
Do you need to have Sky TV?
Yes, you need to sign up to a Sky Entertainment TV package to enable you to use Sky Stream. But you don't need a satellite dish - it's all done through Wifi. You can sign up to a rolling 31-day or 18-month contract.
What's the difference between Sky Stream and NOW?
Good question! Given NOW is Sky TV's original pay-monthly streaming service, why would you choose Sky Stream over NOW? We're honestly not sure, because if price is your main concern, NOW Entertainment has pretty much all the same channels as Sky Stream (with the exception of Freeview - which is free anyway) but costs less, even after adding a separate Netflix (Basic) subscription.
NOW Entertainment with Boost (HD) plus Netflix Basic costs £21.98/mth. This is compared to £26/mth with Sky Stream (on a comparable 'cancel anytime' contract). If you don't want the HD, it's just £16.98/mth.
However, if you want to watch NOW on multiple devices, you'll need to pay the £5/mth for Boost. If you compare this with Sky Stream, it's £39.95 for every extra 'puck' and £12/mth to allow the 'Whole House' to stream - NOW is a no-brainer in this regard.
The one perk of Sky Stream over NOW is that you get Freeview channels via broadband, rather than an aerial. So if you live in an area with dodgy reception, it might be worth considering.
There are several sites where you can pay to stream online movies or TV shows legally – some also let you download them to keep and watch again. These include: Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube.
These sites are much of a muchness pricewise. For example, a big release like Top Gun: Maverick is £2.99 to rent on both Google Play and YouTube. If you're after a specific flick, quickly check 'em all or use JustWatch, a search engine that helps you find which service provides the movie you want to watch.
Top services to buy or rent new releases
Stream films on your iPhone or iPod from 99p
Apple TV (also known as iTunes if you're using a Windows device), offers a range of over 85,000 films and 190,000 TV episodes, but you'll need to set up an account. There's no charge for this. Some big releases like Wrath of Man are priced at £3.49 to rent. But others, like Black Adam, can cost as much as £15.99. Some titles including Trainspotting are priced at 99p, but these tend not to be the latest releases.
Films are generally all in HD and no minimum broadband speed is required. If you rent a film, you'll need to watch it within 30 days (once you start playing the video, you'll have access for 48 hours).
If you're not too picky about what you watch, there's a 'film of the week' available to rent for 99p.
How much? 99p - £15.99
How can I watch? Any Apple device via the Apple TV app, Apple TV, PC (via iTunes), smart TV (Samsung, Sony and LG), Roku devices via its app store and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Watch films from Sky Store on pay-per-view
Sky Store is open to movie lovers who don't subscribe to its services. It has over 10,000 movies and TV episodes, and includes the latest movies available to Sky subscribers. With rentals, once you press play the movies are available for 48 hours. But if you want to watch more than one specific film a month, especially new releases, a streaming subscription could be more MoneySaving.
Included are recent Hollywood blockbusters such as The King's Man (£4.99) and Ticket to Paradise (£13.99), are both available to buy.
How much is it? You can rent releases online as they become available on Sky for £5.49 (but sometimes on offer for as little as £2.99). Older films usually cost £3.49 to rent. HD movies are available for Sky+ HD TV customers with a set-top box and cost £5.49 for the latest flicks.
How can I watch? PC, Mac, Now, Sky, Roku, smart TV and Chromecast.
Pay-per-view TV and movies from £1.99
The Google Play Store is a bit of a one-stop shop for TV shows, movies, music, e-books and audiobooks – it also serves as the 'app store' for users of Android devices.
In order to use the store you'll need to create a Google account, which is free to do.
The site offers a range of tens of thousands of films and TV episodes. Titles can be bought or rented.
Most big releases like Batman vs Superman are priced at £3.49 to rent. Some titles are priced at 99p, but these tend not to be the latest releases.
If you rent a film you'll need to watch it within 30 days (once you start playing the video, you'll have access for 48 hours). Meanwhile, any titles that you've bought outright can be downloaded on to up to five devices to watch offline and be kept forever.
How much? £1.99 - £15.99
How can I watch? Mac, PC, Chromecast, Chromebook, smart TV (Samsung and LG), Android-enabled TV (Sony), Roku, Apple devices via the Google Play Movies & TV app, or on your HD TV using Apple TV.
Pay-per-view TV and movies from £0 (with ads)
Previously known as Wuaki.tv, Rakuten TV is not as big of a player as iTunes or Sky in the online streaming world, but it has over 400,000 users in the UK.
It's got all the major releases past and present you'd expect to see, including Jurassic World: Dominion and Bullet Train (both from £4.99 to rent). Rental films are available in your library for 48 hours, and during this time you can watch them as many times as you want.
Rakuten TV now also includes some of the most popular TV to buy, including shows from HBO and the BBC. Among the titles are Game of Thrones and True Detective (both from £13.99).
You can even watch some of its content for free and without an account, on most smart TVs. The only catch - you have to endure some ads. You can also access the free stuff on other devices, including Rakuten's website, but you'll need to register your details for this.
How can I watch? PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, smart TV, iPhone, iPad, Chromecast and Android phones and tablets.
Already paying for a TV package? See if you can get box sets on demand
If you already pay for a TV package, then rather than signing up for online streaming, you may be able to watch box sets on demand through your set-top box. Here's a summary of what each of the top providers offer:
Sky can now bundle Netflix (Basic package) as part of its Sky Ultimate TV package, costing £20 upfront, then £23/mth for a minimum of 18 months or £26 for a rolling 31-day contract. It's only in standard definition, but if you want HD it's an extra £4/mth and includes both Netflix (Standard package) and a range of its own HD channels such as Sky One HD and Sky Atlantic HD among others.
Sky's basic package now also includes access to its 500 box sets, including shows such as Succession, Modern Family, Twin Peaks and all of Game of Thrones. If you're happy with just its box sets, you can ask Sky to remove Netflix from your package.
If you're a Sky Cinema subscriber, you'll also have access to Sky Cinema On Demand, with more than 1,000 titles available to watch when you want.
What's more, you're not restricted to accessing the on-demand services through your TV. Sky Go allows you to watch them via a free app on a smartphone, tablet or laptop anywhere in the UK or Republic of Ireland, providing you've a working internet connection. Just download the app and log in using your Sky account details.
BT TV at its basic level is essentially a Now TV 'Entertainment Membership' with a box that can pause and record live TV. As it's essentially Now TV, you also get access to over 300 box sets which includes all of Game of Thrones.
Unlike Now TV, if you choose its basic Entertainment package it's currently just £9/mth for the first six months then £18/mth, but you're locked into a 24mth contract. Once you're on any of its 24mth packages, you're then able to add and remove package bolt-ons each month should you wish.
These one-month rolling bolt-ons include BT Sport, Now TV Sky Sports pass and Now TV Sky Cinema pass.
Existing Virgin Media TV subscribers have access to around 4,000 hours of content on demand through their TV box.
If you have a Virgin TV package which includes Sky channels, you'll also get access to Sky's on-demand content. However, you may only get access to a portion of Sky On Demand – it depends which Sky channels you have access to. If you have Sky Movies, you'll also get Sky Movies On Demand.
Virgin Movies also offers a pay-per-view service, with more than 500 titles available from £3.99. There's also Virgin TV Anywhere, which works like Sky Go and lets you watch TV on other devices.
If you take out one of Virgin's Bundles* subscription packages, you'll also get one of its Virgin 360 boxes, through which you can access Netflix for the usual price – £6.99/mth for access on one device, £10.99/mth for access on two or £15.99/mth for access on four devices.
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