If you read my post on why I don’t have a TV Licence, your next question might be how to watch movies & tv for free in the UK. All of these will involve streaming, and some are totally free, while some are limited time trials.
You might find that you can get more options by using a VPN, but there are free trial options for those as well, which I’ll list at the bottom of this post. Let’s get right into the list:
You just can’t ignore Amazon Prime video – they may not strictly be free, with a monthly or annual subscription, but there’s a hefty 30 day free trial to take advantage of. I always struggled with the interface but found some gems to watch there. Honestly, what I didn’t like most was finding movies that required a rental on top of the subscription.
Also worth mentioning is Amazon Prime Channels* which is a kind of top-up to your Amazon Prime video subscription, offering a staggering amount of channels… and many of these channels have trial periods as well! You’ll see that a lot of the channels with free trials mentioned here are available with Amazon Prime Channels.
Is Amazon Prime worth it compared to a TV licence?
A TV Licence costs £157.50 a year compared to Amazon Prime’s basic £79 a year, and that’s ignoring all of the other benefits such as music, the Kindle library, free delivery – all of that.
You artistic types and anglophiles are going to love this. The British Film Institute (BFI) has a site full of interesting short and feature-length films that you can watch for a range of prices, either as one-off rentals, a £4.99 monthly subscription after a 14 day trial, or for free. The free offerings are a mixed bag of archive footage, shorts and other unexpected goodies.
I love it!
I was surprised to see that this live tv/streaming platform actually works just fine! What’s the catch? I dunno, just check it out for yourself.
Documentary Heaven does what it says on the label – lots and lots of documentaries! It can be a mixed bag, with tons of conspiracy theories, but I guess that’s just the internet in the 2020s.
When I first saw this I thought that the quality looked kinda sketchy and some videos opened in YouTube player – so why not watch on YouTube? However, the site’s going through a rebuild, and looks worth a go.
It’s proper film, don’t you know! Another for the arthouse cinephiles. You can get a 7 day free trial (£9.99/£14.99 afterwards) or add it to Amazon Channels* for the same price.
All4 is Channel 4’s on-demand streaming service, funded by advertising. So if you’re prepared to endure what used to feel like a never-ending stream of ads, then you can watch some great shows… but I haven’t watched regular tv in so long that ads seem really alien to me now, so it may not be a big deal to you.
They also have a freemium model where you can upgrade to All4+ for £3.99 per month with a 14 day free trial.
ITV Hub is, naturally, ITV’s streaming service, funded by ads.
As before they also have a freemium model where you can upgrade to ITV Hub+ for £3.99 per month with a 7 day free trial.
Interestingly, you can get ITV Hub+ as an Amazon Channels subscription* with the same 7 day free trial and £3.99 per month afterwards.
My5 is Channel 5’s on-demand streaming service, also funded by advertising. The range of content looks good enough to offset the ads, honestly – there doesn’t seem to be a free trial anyway.
BritBox promises British boxsets from the BBC and ITV as well as channels 4 & 5… so technically some of these productions have already been paid for by the licence fee, but I’ll leave that there. You can get a free 7 day trial after which it’s £5.99 per month.
I couldn’t get a single movie or tv show to work for me, but it might do if you have a VPN.
That’s a roundup of my favourite ideas for how to watch movies & tv for free in the UK. I’ll be adding to these as I come across more – happy viewing!