Film and TV streaming sites: Top 10 places to watch online

ByDuncan Heaney
Film streaming sites

Forget the hassle of DVDs and renting films on a disc - these day’s it’s all about streaming. But which streaming sites are best for recent blockbusters, or smash hit TV shows from across the pond? Compare your main options here...

Who the heck needs a bookcase piled with DVDs or Blu-ray when you can watch films online at the push of a button? As long as your broadband's up to snuff, you can stream all the movies you want and never worry about lost discs or late fees again.

Here are the TV and film streaming sites we think are worth checking out:

 

Service

Library size

Platforms

Cost

 

 

 

800+ films and up to 16 new ones each month. TV shows such as Scandal, True Blood and Penny Dreadful available with Entertainment Pass. Sky Sports Pass gives 24-hour Sky Sports access.

 PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Xbox 360, YouView, streaming players £4.99

a month for the Entertainment Pass.

£8.99 a month for Movies, starting with a 30-day free trial.

Sky Sports Pass:
£9.99 a day

Go to NOW TV

 

Netflix

Undisclosed. More than 1,000 films and 400 TV series

PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, streaming players, smart TVs, Blu-ray players

£6.99 a month. First month free.

Go to Netflix

 

 Amazon Instant Video

50,000+ films and TV shows

PC, Mac, iPad, Kindle Fire HD, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes

£5.99 a month. First month free.

Go to Amazon

 

blinkbox

15,000+ movies and TV shows

 

PC, Mac, iOS, Android, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes

Rent: 99p - £3.49

Buy: £1.89 - £10.99

Go to blinkbox

 

PictureBox

60 films a month, regularly replaced with new content

PC, iPad, smart TVs

£4.99 a month

Go to PictureBox

 

KNOWHOW Movies

1,000+ films and TV series

PC, laptop, Android, smart TVs, Blu-ray players

Rent: £1.99 - £4.99

Buy: £1.99p - £12.99

Go to KNOWHOW

 

iTunes

45,000+ films and 190,000 TV episodes

PC, Mac, iOS

Rent: 99p - £3.49

Buy: £7.99 - £13.99

Go to iTunes

 

Google Play

2,000+ films

No TV

PC, Mac, Android

Rent:  £1.49 - £3.49

Buy: £7.99 - £9.99

Go to Google Play

 

Film4oD

1,000+ films

No TV

PC, Mac

Rent: 99p - £3.49

Go to Film4oD

 

Curzon Home Cinema

400+ films

No TV

PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Smart TVs

Rent: £2 - £4 (non-members), £1.70 -£3.40 (members)

 

Go to Curzon

 

MUBI

30 films at a time. 1 new film every day

PC, Mac

£2.99 a month.

First month free

Go to MUBI

Click for more information:

NOW TV

Netflix

Amazon Instant Video (LOVEFiLM)

blinkbox

PictureBox

KNOWHOW Movies

iTunes

Google Play

Film4oD

Curzon Home Cinema

MUBI

 

 

NOW TV

 

NOW TV  

Owned by Sky (www.Sky.com), NOW TV doesn't have the biggest library, but it does have the most recent movies. Sky's various exclusivity deals mean that subscribers get access to the biggest movies months, often years, before any other subscription-based streaming service.

The service is split into three - Entertainment, Movies and Sport, each with its own price tag. The Entertainment pass gives you access to live Sky channels and on-demand TV shows.

Movies lets you watch the latest films - often around the same time they come out on DVD. 

You can get also Sky Sports daily and weekly passes. These lets you watch all Sky Sports channels for the respective length of time. It's not cheap, but if there's a big match you want to catch, NOW TV is a way to see it without getting locked a contract.

While NOW TV's library is newer than its main rivals, the price tag is heftier - particularly if you want everything - making NOW TV the most expensive subscription service available right now. You can watch it via computer, iOS and Android phones, consoles including Xbox 360 and PS4, or the NOW TV box, which sits under your telly.

Learn more about Now TV

Netflix

Netflix

Netflix offers a large selection of movies, from children's classics like Wall-E to popular flicks like The Hobbit films. It also has a large collection of TV series, including US series like Dexter and Modern Family, and UK shows like The Inbetweeners.

In addition, Netflix commissions  exclusive shows of its own, including the Kevin Spacey-starring House of Cards, prison comedy Orange Is The New Black and the return of critically-acclaimed comedy Arrested Development.

The company's gained a reputation for the quality of its streaming technology and the breadth of platforms it's available on, which includes iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, all major games consoles and smart TVs - it's the widest selection of all providers.

On the downside, most of the movies on offer are quite old, and you're unlikely to find much from the last few years. While its TV offering is stronger, there are some missing episodes and incomplete series that could be frustrating for some.

Learn more about Netflix.

Amazon Instant Video (LOVEFiLM)

 

Amazon Instant Video

 

Known as LOVEFiLM Instant in a previous life, Amazon Prime Instant Video has a vast and immensely varied collection of films and TV shows ready to stream online. With a monthly subscriptions you get unlimited access, in the exact same way as with Netflix and other such platforms.

With Amazon Instant Video there are two ways to watch your films and TV instantly. You can either rent or buy digital copies TV programmes and movies - from a library of more than 50,000 titles - or with Amazon Prime Instant Video you get unlimited access paying a set monthly amount.

It's worth noting that the Prime selection is narrower, although there are still 15,000 films and shows, and most of what's available is at least a few years old. If you subscribe and decide you want to watch something more recent, you can always pay-and-go using standard Amazon Instant Video.

Learn more about Amazon Instant Video

 

blinkbox

blinkbox

 

Supermarket grand daddy Tesco's service lets you rent or buy individual items on pay-as-you-go terms without a subscription. If you rent something through blinkbox, you have 30 days to start watching it. You've then got 48 hours to enjoy it as many times as you like, or can physically manage.

blinkbox's library is fairly extensive, with brand new releases sitting next to much older classics. The price you pay for a film or TV show varies - naturally, you'll have to pay a lot more for the latest films than the golden oldies.

Since you pay for each film or programme separately, blinkbox is not the best choice for people who want to watch a lot of stuff every month. However, if you just want to dip in and out - renting the occasional movie now and then - it's one of the best options available to you.

 

Learn more about blinkbox

 

 

PictureBox

PictureBox logo

 

In addition to a subscription-based service, PictureBox provides a selection of on-demand movies for Virgin Media TV customers as well as YouView from both BT and TalkTalk.

PictureBox works differently from most other online streaming services. Each month, a curated pick of seven recent films is brought in to replace by what's currently on offer. This mean the selection is limited to 60 films per month (28 on BT), but also that it's regularly refreshed.

Learn more about PictureBox

 

KNOWHOW Movies

KNOWHOW Movies

 

Electronics retail group Dixons, the company behind PC World and Currys, now puts KNOWHOW Movies on every Windows computer it sells. The service lets you rent or buy films, either to stream on the internet or download to watch offline later.

It's not a free service and there's no subscriber option. A rented movie is available to watch 30 days after purchase, but as with blinkbox, once you start watching it'll only stick around for another 48 hours. There's a decent mix of movies and as well as renting you can buy for keeps.

Learn more about KNOWHOW Movies

 

iTunes

iTunes

 

Apple's online media outlet probably needs no introduction. While it made its name in music for the iPod, iTunes has been offering TV and movie downloads for years now, and has one of the biggest libraries around.

Films and TV shows can be bought, and downloaded to be watched indefinitely, or rented as a digital download that expires after 30 days of purchase. Once you've started watching a rental, however, there are only 24 hours to finish it.

iTunes isn't compatible with Android devices - Google's mobile operating system is the iPhone's main rival, you see - but you don't have to have an Apple device either. It'll work on a Windows PC, as well as iPhones, iPads, iMacs etc.

Learn more about iTunes

 

Google Play

Google Play

 

If you have an Android tablet or phone the Google Play download store is your iTunes equivalent. However, it's also available on Mac and PC as well as portable Google-powered gadgets.

Google Play's collection of films and TV shows is smaller than Apples, but still pretty enormous. It isn't as easy to navigate as iTunes either, but if you've the time to dig around you'll find plenty to watch across most of the popular genres.

It's a similar deal as you get with iTunes, whereby you have 30 days to start watching rented items - then once you've kicked it off you have 48 hours. Alternatively, you can purchase your film or TV show and watch it offline whenever you like.

Learn more about Google Play

 

Film4oD

Film4OD

 

Another pay-to-view online movie service, Film4oD works a lot like blinkbox - there's no subscription, you just pay for what you want to watch. Although the Film4oD library does contain over 1,000 films, you can only rent. There's no option to buy and keep.

Film4oD is only available online for PCs and Macs at the moment, but is planning to expand onto Android devices, iPads and iPhones in the very near future.

Learn more about Film4oD

 

Curzon Home Cinema

Curzon Home Cinema

 

A small cinema chain based in London, Curzon tends to focus on less high-profile independent films, rather than box office blockbusters. The selection's quite small, but if it's indie flicks you're looking for Curzon Home Cinema's one of your best bets.

There's a 15% discount if you're part of the Curzon membership scheme, and once you rent a movie you have seven days to watch it. However, there's no download option - you can only stream - so you'll need to make sure you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Learn more about Curzon Home Cinema

 

MUBI

MUBI

 

Not unlike Curzon Home Cinema, MUBI specialises in independent cinema rather than Hollywood's mega-successes. For a small monthly fee, it gives you access to 30 new films a month. One film is added and one taken away every day.

It's a good one if you have alternative tastes, but certainly isn't for everyone. One of the best things about the MUBI experience is that, just like PictureBox, the film selection is always changing.

Learn more about MUBI

Topics: Digital TV

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