Cheapest ways to watch films online

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By in Shopping. Updated January 2016.

Cinema habit draining your pockets? For less than the price of one ticket you could stream more films and TV shows a month than you’ve had Pot Noodles.scary movie

Forget queuing up for overpriced popcorn, nowadays you don’t need to leave your house to watch all of the latest releases.

There are a huge range of sites offering cheap (and sometimes free) access to films and TV. Yes, that’s both legal and free!

You can pay-as-you-go or sign up to a subscription, depending on how much of a film nerd you are. Either way it’s well worth looking at all the options out there.

Luckily for you we’ve got together everything you need to know right here, so get yourself a brew and stay exactly where you are.

Using online film services

filmThere’s no two ways about it; a film addiction can be a costly habit.

With new releases costing between £10 and £15 to buy, cinema tickets reaching double figures and rentals roughly £3 a pop, watching just one film a week could set you back £40 a month.

In contrast a subscription service can cost at little as £5 a month and you can watch as many flicks as you fancy. If you split this between a student house of four, it works out at just £1.25 a month.

Many services also offer month-long free trials to help you decide if it’s for you, so make sure to take advantage of them all (more on that below).

Once signed up you’ll be able to stream films and shows directly to your laptop, tablet, Smart TV and/or games console.

However, before you chuck out your DVD collection for good, it’s essential to suss out both your broadband speed and download limit.

Downloading and streaming films will need a good broadband connection and no one wants endless buffering or penalty charges. See how your connection compares in our guide to broadband packages.

Subscription movie services compared

If you’re a serial film addict then the subscription services are the big boys that you’ll be wanting to use!

For a flat monthly rate you’ll get access to a HUGE range of films and, unlike with free sites, you’ll get a whole host of all the latest stuff… in HD.

The even better news is that most of the companies that we look at below offer a one-month trial allowing you to test it out for free.

Also, none of these services are fixed term contracts – you can cancel at any time.

Amazon Prime Instant Video (formerly LoveFilm)

Amazon Instant VideoAmazon Prime Instant video’s collection of thousands of films and DVDs dwarfs most of the competition and certainly punches its weight.

It also offers the opportunity to rent physical DVDs as well, giving you an even greater choice over what you watch.

You also get an Amazon Prime account which comes with free next day delivery.

Price: £6.60/month
Number of films: 2000+
Offers: 30 day free trial – just remember to cancel if you change your mind
HD: Some films and shows
Top picks:
The West Wing, The Walking Dead, Twilight, Dexter

Amazon Prime Instant Video Free Trial »


netflix logoHailing all the way from the good ol’ US of A, Netflix is one of the heavyweight contenders in the world of film and TV subscription services.

Costing exactly the same as UK based Amazon Prime Instant Video, Netflix may not have as many films, but it does offer an impressive back catalogue of TV programmes.

And yes, that does include Breaking Bad.

Price: £6.99/month
Number of films: 2000 +
Offers: 30 day free trial – remember to cancel if you change your mind
HD: Some films and shows
top picks:
Breaking Bad, The Hunger Games, The Inbetweeners, Jackass

Netflix Free Trial »


nowtvLaunched in 2012, NowTV is the new guy to the world of streaming subscriptions. The service is a bit more costly – £8.99 for a film subscription and £4.99 for a TV subscription.

This is a lot more dollar, but all the films and shows are of a high quality – they’re essentially what you’d get it you have Sky Movies or Sky TV.

Price: £8.99/month for a movie package and £4.99/month for TV shows
Number of films: About 800 films at any one time
Offers: 30 day free trial – just remember to cancel if you change your mind
HD: No
Top picks: Les Miserables, Skyfall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

NowTV Free Trial »

Pay-per-view services

If you don’t watch a tremendous amount of movies, but do like to indulge in the odd flick here and there, then pay-per-view (PPV) services are the option for you.

With a lot of sites you can also pay to download the titles forever, if you think you it’s going to become a classic.

Don’t forget, there’s no contract on PPV movies, so check the prices on a number of sites before you stump up the cash!


blinkboxOwned by Tesco, blinkbox offers a great range of films starting at just 99p each.

One of the bonuses of blinkbox is that if you don’t want to stream the film, you can download it and watch it on Windows Media Player instead.

Prices from: 99p
Top Releases from:
Number of films:
Currently blinkbox is offering £5 free credit when you deposit your first £1

Check out blinkbox »


iTunes-movie-rentalsDon’t be fooled by its famous music offerings, iTunes also do movies!

You will need to download the iTunes software before you can make any rentals though, but you can also watch films offline.

Prices from: 99p
Top Releases from: 
Between £3-5
Number of films: 
45,000 movies and 190,000 TV episodes
Nothing at the moment, but keep your eye on our deals section!

Check out  iTunes movies »

Free (legal) movie services

It’s one of those things that really does sound too good to be true, but we pinky promise it’s not.

There are a whole range of sites where you can watch films and TV shows for free. There is one snag though… you won’t be getting the latest films or the widest selection when compared to the paid services.

Still worth a look though…


viewsterAnother fine offering of free films, series, trailers and interviews, Viewster is the King of niche films, cult TV and old-time classics.

There’s about 150 films to be found and it’s a great place to discover new things you might not have looked at before.

Once again Viewster is funded by ads, but we don’t mind!

Check out Viewster »


crackle logoAt the moment there’s almost 250 movies on Crackle, without mentioning the various TV shows on offer.

It prides itself on having a great selection of action, sci-fi, horror, crime and comedy.

While Crackle tries to boast its films are picked especially for guys, we can confirm that like most things marketed at a specific gender, everyone will enjoy it regardless of what’s in their pants.

Check out Crackle »

Whatever service you choose to go for, make sure to take full advantage of free offers and carefully consider how many and what kind of films you watch.

Got any tips or services we seem to have forgotten? Make sure to let us know in the comments!

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5 Responses to “Cheapest ways to watch films online”

  1. Ellie

    23. Aug, 2016

    I love how this article claims that the paid services have the latest releases, yeah if you count films released five years ago as “latest releases”

  2. Dave

    13. Mar, 2013

    For another 3 quid a month you can get a VPN account that allows you access to the full Netflix US streaming library even with a UK Netflix account. The content there dwarfs what LoveFilm has to offer.

  3. Charlotte

    20. Apr, 2012

    LoveFilm has terrible customer service and you’ll have a hard time cancelling the subscription after the trial. They charged me more than they were supposed to and it took my three letters of complaint before they finally cancelled my subscription. And they were rude to me. Everyone I know who’s been on LoveFilm has not had a good experience with them.

    • Jake Butler

      20. Apr, 2012

      Thanks for your views Charlotte. I think it helps to let other students know your experience so that they will not encounter the same problems. 🙂

  4. Lee

    13. Feb, 2012

    Have trialled both and whereas Lovefilm wins the day with content level, the inability to watch on an iPad connected to a TV is a deal breaker for me, and I would guess for others also.

    Netflix is happy to run on the iPad connected via av cables on a tv. So, with a family wishing to watch together, and not wanting to cram around a Small iPad, Netflix wins in our house!

    This comment is awaiting moderation.


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