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

Film and TV icons

Watching films and TV shows at home these days is 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-rays 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 Cost

Amazon Prime Video

Available on: PC. Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kindle Fire HD, PS4, Xbox One, smart TVs, Blu-ray players and more

500,000+ films and TV shows

£7.99 a month. First month free

Go to Amazon

NOW TV

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android. PS4, Xbox One, YouView, NOW TV Smart Stick and more

800+ films, up to 16 new ones each month. 100s of TV shows available with Entertainment Pass. Sky Sports Pass gives 24 hour Sky Sports access

£7.99 a month. First month free

Go to NOW TV

Netflix

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, PS4, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, Virgin Media TiVo, YouView and more

Undisclosed. More than 1,000 films and 400 TV series, including exclusive original shows

£5.99 a month for Basic plan (watch on 1 screen)

£7.99 a month for Standard plan (watch on 2 screens, watch HD)

£9.99 a month for Premium plan (watch on 4 screens, watch in ultra HD / 4K)

Go to Netflix

TalkTalk TV Store (formerly Blinkbox)

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

15,000+ movies and TV shows

Rent from £3.00

Buy from £4.95

Go to TalkTalk TV Store

PictureBox

Available on: PC, iPad, TalkTalk YouView, smart TVs

60 films a month, regularly replaced with new content

£5 a month

Go to Picturebox

iTunes

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS

45,000+ films and 190,000 TV episodes

Rent from 99p

Buy from £7.99

Go to iTunes

Google Play

Available on: PC, Mac, Android

10,000+ films and TV shows

Rent from £2.99

Buy from £5.99

Go to Google Play

Sky Store

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Sky boxes

1,000+ films and TV shows

Rent from 99p

Buy from £7.99

Go to Sky Store

Curzon Home Cinema

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Smart TVs

400+ films

No TV

Rent: £2.20 - £10

15% discount for Curzon Cinema members

Go to Curzon

MUBI

Available on: PC, Mac, iOS, Android

30 films at a time. 1 new film every day

£7.99 a month

First month free

Go to MUBI

Streaming sticks and boxes

Streaming sticks are handy little gadgets that let you watch TV shows, download films, see the news, play games, and even browse the internet right on your TV screen. They plug into the HDMI slot on the back of your set and, by connecting it to your Wi-Fi, you can access apps for all your favourite streaming services - including the ones in the table above. Here's how some of the biggest compare:

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.

Plus it's a broadband provider to boot!

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

Cinema lets you watch the latest films - often around the same time they come out on DVD, while Entertainment gives you access to Sky channels, including Sky Atlantic, and loads of TV box sets. The Kids Pass lets you watch live and on-demand shows from Nickelodeon, Boomerang, Cartoon Network and more.

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.

​Netflix

Netflix

Netflix offers a large selection of movies, from children's classics to popular blockbusters. It also has a large collection of TV series, including US series like Arrested Development, and UK shows like Doctor Who.

In addition, Netflix commissions exclusive shows of its own, including House of Cards, prison comedy Orange Is The New Black and superhero smash hits like Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage.

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.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon

Known as LOVEFiLM Instant in a previous life, Amazon Prime 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 Prime 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 a subscription you get unlimited access paying a set monthly amount.

Or, for an extra £2 a month, you can get the full Amazon Prime treatment - complete with next-day deliveries on products, access to Kindle libraries, and more.

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 when the mood strikes.

TalkTalk TV Store

TalkTalk TV Store

Coming from broadband provider TalkTalk, the Service Formerly Known As Blinkbox lets you rent or buy individual items on pay-as-you-go terms without a subscription. If you rent something through TalkTalk TV, 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.

TalkTalk TV Store'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, TalkTalk TV Store 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.

PictureBox

Picturebox

PictureBox lets you watch as much as you like with a subscription, though it's only available through TalkTalk TV.

It 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, but also that it's regularly refreshed.

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.

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 Apple's, 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.

Sky Store

Sky

Like most other movie streaming services, the Sky Store gives you the option to either rent or buy all kinds of movies - only this time, when you buy one to keep, Sky will send you a copy of the DVD in the post. You've also got the option to stream them through the Sky Store app on iOS or Android.

Because it's from Sky, you'll find some of the latest blockbusters like the ones on Sky Cinema, and there are new ones added every week.

If you've got Sky TV, you'll find the Sky Store right there on your set top box. If not, it's easy to register for the Store online.

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.

MUBI

MUBI logo

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.

Buffering

All these services are designed to worth with most internet connections, but if you find you have trouble playing video without lots of buffering making it stop-start, check out our guide.

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