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How to watch movies and TV shows online for free

Tamires Criscio
Tamires Criscio
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 12th May 2021

Is one of your favourite things to do is to watch movies and TV shows online? There are more movies and TV shows available for free than you can probably watch in a lifetime. If you are looking for free online content or the best streaming services, we are here to help. We have shared in this guide the best services at the moment.

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It depends. There are both legal and illegal websites and digital applications. If you are using an illegal website, then you are not respecting copyright laws and may be prosecuted. 

The UK Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) is always looking for websites that offer free content illegally. This organisation is more interested in looking for illegal website owners than the people that use these websites. Despite this, it's better not to take the risk. Very often, these websites download different types of malware to your device and give easy access to hacking scams. 

In the UK, at the time of writing, no one has ever been prosecuted for breaking copyright laws by watching movies or TV shows online on an illegal website. There is a first time for everything so keep your mind at ease by exploring other, legal, options.

When is it illegal to watch shows and movies online?

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It's illegal to watch movies and TV shows online when you are using an illegal website that does not follow copyright laws. How do you recognise an illegal streaming website? They are usually too good to be true. If they have content exclusive to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Now TV, for example, something may be wrong. If they have any content that hasn't been released yet in the UK, then it is illegal. They might also have bad interfaces, be covered in advertisements and scammy pop-ups. 

Now that you know why and how to avoid illegal websites, we have selected the best legal websites to watch movies and TV shows for free. Check them out below:

Top 15 Websites to Watch Movies and TV Shows for Free Online

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Hoopla Digital 

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This is an online library where you can borrow movies, TV shows, music, audiobooks, e-books and comics. It’s free, but you need to have a library card. Then you just have to sign-up using your email address and create a password. You'll have access to thousands of free digital content within minutes. Here is some of Hoopla’s most popular content. 

Pluto TV 

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PlutoTV shows select Live TV channels and also on-demand movies and TV Shows. If you use it to watch Live TV, you need a TV License. Pluto TV is American, so most of its content is American productions. What is available is a bit random but you could potentially find something for your taste. Here is some of Pluto TV’s best content. 

Plex.TV 

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Plex TV started as a tool to organise your on-demand content from different streaming services. More recently it has created two free tools, one to watch free movies and TV shows online and another one to watch free live TV. The selection of content available is interesting, so you will likely find something to watch for free. If you are going to watch free live TV there, you also need a TV Licence. 

Rakuten.TV

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Rakuten TV used to be called Wuaki.tv and has a library of free movies. The selection is quite random, but you can find some hidden gems there and all for free! American Beauty, a classic, is available here. You will need to create an account to watch movies. However, there are ads. You can also purchase some paid movies on Rakuten TV. 

Kanopy 

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Kanopy is only available for university students, professors and librarians. Like Hoopla Digital, this is also an online library where you can borrow audiovisual materials. Just get your library ID and sign-up. Kanopy claims to have more than twenty thousand movies. This content is gathered from university libraries worldwide.

Popcornflix

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This website contains movies and tv shows all free to watch. The only downside is that you will need to be patient and watch the ads. Popcornflix claims to have more than 1,500 movies. It’s one of the most popular legal websites to watch free stuff. 

Crunchyroll 

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If you are an anime lover, this is the only streaming service you need. This website belongs to WarnerMedia and is available in more than two hundred countries. You can access both its free content and also get a monthly subscription for premium content. 

Yidio 

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Yidio brings some free content, but it works better as an organisational tool. If you have more than one streaming subscription, it can be confusing to keep track of everything you have available to you. With Yidio you can combine all your accounts into one and create a super watchlist. 

Hotstar

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If you love a good Hindi production, you will get the best of Bollywood at Hotstar. This website was created for an Indian audience but nowadays it brings more than just Hindi movies and TV shows. There are premium TV channels, news and sports coverage, mainly cricket. Much of Hotstar’s content is free, but you can also get a paid monthly subscription. 

Internet Archive

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This website does exactly what it says. You have access to millions of different pieces of content, not only movies, TV shows but also audios, images and historical documents. If you are a fan of SNL, Saturday Night Life, you have loads of old shows to catch-up with. Also, if you like American politics, you have some of Obama’s and Trump's most famous speeches. It's all completely free. 

Films for Action

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This is one of the greatest collections of documentaries available for free. You can find more than four thousand documentaries in different categories on Films for Action. If you want to understand more about the word we live in, this is your chance. 

Roku

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Roku is a multi-functional service. On the Roku Channel, you will get free movies and TV shows. However, you can also get more free content with Roku's all-in-one streaming service. With Roku, you get access to many other free channels available in the UK (BBC iPlayer, All 4, Sky News etc.).

Shout Factory TV

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This website has some of its content spread out across other platforms, such as Pluto TV. Here you can find some special selections. At the moment they have a whole section dedicated to the Black Matter Lives movement. You can also watch some live TV shows streaming 24/7. 

Retrovision TV 

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If you are a classic film aficionado, you need Retrovision TV. When you think about old movies from the early 30s, for example, this is the catalogue you need. You can find lots of old productions, not only movies but TV shows and specials from the 50s, for example. 

CONtv

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CONtv was created to celebrate Comic-Con fans. There you can find lots of free programmes related to the Comic-Con world. During the Comic-Con’s events, there is special coverage. 

UK Television: Free movies and TV shows online 

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All 4

All 4 is Channel 4’s catch-up service, where you can watch some of the most popular British TV shows, such as Made in Chelsea. You can watch everything for free as long as you are patient during the ads. If ads drive you crazy, you can pay to have them removed. This doesn't require a TV Licence.

My 5

My5 is Channel 5’s catch-up service, where you can also watch some of the most popular British TV shows, such as The Royals. You can watch everything for free. Just be patient during the ads! This also doesn't require a TV Licence. Keep in mind, most of My 5’s content comes from Pluto TV. 

BBC iPlayer 

This is totally free but you need to pay for a TV Licence to be able to watch it. You will have access to movies and TV shows that have been live on one of many BBC’s channels. One of the 2020 hit shows was Normal People, which is available there for free

ITV Hub

Here's ITV's catch-up service. To view it, you will need to create an account with an email address and password. You can only stream when you are logged in. ITV has one of the most popular TV shows in the UK and the world: Love Island. You can watch this and other TV shows for free by creating an account and watching the ads. If you are streaming live, you will need a TV Licence to watch this. 

Freeview

Freeview is a free TV package available in the UK. With Freeview, you have access to all free channels in the UK. You can get this as a device to transform your television into a smart TV or you can buy a smart TV with Freeview. You can also download it on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. You will be able to watch lots of free channels on live streaming or catch-up. If you are watching Live TV you will need a TV Licence. 

FAQ 

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What do you think of this?
overutopia
overutopia5 months ago

Tried to register with Hoopla, but they only seem to accept US or Canadian libraries.

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suzyabc
suzyabc5 months ago

Already got pluto and loads of other free sites all legal for streaming through normal tv.

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