10 great ways to stream TV and movies for free (legally)

When lockdown first kicked in, we all thought we'd be watching a lot more TV and movies. But if you rely on free-to-air broadcast channels, you may have been disappointed. With many regular shows cancelled or scaled-down due to the pandemic, and most new programming stalled, we’re getting an increasing diet of repeats, and so many are turning to streaming services to plug the gap.

But what if you’re strapped for cash and every penny counts right now? Well the good news is, there are ways to stream TV and movies that are safe, legal and free. In this post, we bring you 10 great options for adding some colour and variety to your televisual diet. Note that whether or not these are free and the content available does vary from country to country (you might also want to consider getting one of the

best VPNs


Totally free services

We'll start with five places you might not know about, where you can find lots of TV shows and films to watch for free, securely and within the law. From ad-funded television to classic movies that are now out of copyright, there’s plenty of great content to discover on these lesser-known platforms.

01. Rakuten

Rakuten features a lot of ad-supported free TV and movies

(Image credit: Rakuten)

Based in Japan,


is a streaming service offering movies and TV series for subscription, rental and purchase, but it also features a good selection of ad-supported free content, including movies, kids TV shows and documentaries. Just click the ‘Free’ tab at the top to see what’s on offer. You just need to provide an email address and password, and then you can start watching on a PC or Mac (not Chromebook), smartphone (iOS or Android) or Xbox One. You can also cast to your TV using Chromecast.

Watch first:


02. Pluto TV

Pluto TV has both on-demand and 'live' content on its platform

(Image credit: Pluto TV)

Based in the US and owned by Viacom,

Pluto TV

is a free, advertiser-supported streaming website that primarily offers a selection of content via ‘channels’ that are designed to replicate the experience of traditional live TV. This means that you can't stop and start a show when you want to; you have to 'tune in' at the right time. However, there’s also a selection of on-demand movies, boxsets and documentaries to enjoy. You can’t watch Pluto TV on a desktop computer, but there’s a free app for your iOS, Android and Amazon devices, and you can cast to your TV via the Amazon Fire Stick.

Watch first:

21 Jump Street

03. Plex

Plex is available in over 200 countries

(Image credit: Plex)

Launched last December by the software company of the same name,


is a US-based, ad-supported streaming service, which distinguishes itself from most of its rivals by operating outside of North America; in over 200 countries worldwide, in fact. It features a wide range of movies, TV shows, podcasts and news shows, which you can watch via the web browser or cast to your TV via Chromecast or Fire Stick. It doesn't always have the best-known TV or movies, to be frank; you'll need to subscribe to the premium version to get that. But have a look around and you'll probably find a few things that pique your interest.

Watch first:

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

04. BFI Player

Take a trip back to Britain's past via the archive content on the BFI Player

(Image credit: BFI Player)


BFI Player

, the website of the British Film Institute, contains a wide range of shorts and features that are free to watch, including short films, classic TV dramas, documentaries, musicals, home movies, and even some classic British adverts from times past. Most of the content is vintage, black-and-white fare, but there are also some short films from modern BFI film festivals. Just click the 'Free' tab at the top to see what's available. There’s no signup required, you can watch in the browser, and there’s a Chromecast option to cast to your TV.

Watch first:

Self-Conscious Over You

05. Popcorn Flix

Popcorn has plenty of TV and movies, and there's no signup needed

(Image credit: Popcornflix)

Watch first:

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Free trials

While the first five services on our list are all very easy to access for free, you probably won’t find the latest movies and TV on these platforms. For that, you’ll need to sign up to a paid service… but here’s the good news. Many of them are currently offer free trials, ranging for one week to 90 days.

Think about what that means. If you try them out one-by-one, taking great care to cancel before you get charged, you’ll end up enjoying around six months of the very latest, blockbuster entertainment, without paying a penny! To help you out, here are the best free trials on offer right now, and what you can get from them, in return for just a little administrative effort.

06. Disney Plus

Disney Plus will keep both adults and kids happy

(Image credit: Disney+)

Watch first:


07. Quibi

Quibi is a new service with high-quality, deliberately concise content

(Image credit: Quibi)

Watch first:

Last Night’s Late Night by EW

08. Britbox

Britbox brings together classic BBC and ITV shows from the past

(Image credit: Britbox)

Ever feel nostalgic for vintage British shows like Fawlty Towers, The Office or 1960s-1980s Doctor Who? Or fancy catching up with more recent hits such as Downton Abbey, Life on Mars, or Gavin and Stacey? Well,


has all of these boxset classics in one place, and many more, from crime dramas to sitcoms, BBC to ITV. For those outside the UK, it's also a great place to catch up on the latest episodes of British shows like EastEnders.

You can watch all this content on the web, or via the free iOS and Android apps, and you can cast to your TV via Chromecast or Amazon Fire. And the generous 30-day free trial will let you enjoy plenty of your favourites.

Watch first:


09. Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime TV is packed with modern, blockbuster content

(Image credit: Amazon)

Watch first:

The Man in the High Castle

10. Hayu

Love reality TV? Then Hayu is for you

(Image credit: Hayu)

Watch first:

Kim Kardashian-West: The Justice Project

Read more:

The 20 best shows on Netflix right now

7 downtime activities you might not have thought of

Bad logos project is brilliantly awful