Cheapest ways to watch films online

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By in Shopping. Updated October 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.watch films online for freeForget queuing up for overpriced popcorn, nowadays you don’t need to even leave your house to watch all of the latest and greatest movie releases.

There are a huge range of sites offering cheap (and sometimes even free) access to films and TV. And 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 having a look at all the options out there.

And we’ve aggregated all the info you need right here!

Using online film services

watch films for free onlineThere’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 that’s with a student discount) and the DVD rental scene pretty much dead and buried, 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 you 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

guide to subscription movie servicesIf 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 can also get a whole host of latest releases too.

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, so you can cancel at any time.

Amazon Prime 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 can get a Prime Video membership for £5.99 p/m, but it’s worth noting that if you’re a student, you’ll be able to get Prime video plus loads of extra additional benefits for even less with a Student Prime account.

Amazon Prime Video is included as part of the Amazon Prime package, which is free for the first 6 months for students and £39 p/m thereafter, which works out at only £3.25 p/m.

If you cancel your Student Prime after the first 6 months, you won’t be able to start paying £5.99 p/m just for video as this is only available to new customers, but as you can see from the figures above, it actually works out cheaper to stick with the full prime account if you’re still a student!

It’s also worth noting that although Prime Video have a catalogue of 4,000 movies, only around 1,000 come free with prime, and you might need to pay extra to rent additional titles.

Price: £5.99/month
Number of films: 4,000+
Offers: 30 day free trial – just remember to cancel if you change your mind!
HD: Some films and shows
Top picks:
Zootropolis, Deadpool, The Revenant, Twilight, The Angry Birds Movie.

Amazon Prime Instant Video Free Trial »

Netflix

netflix logoHailing from the good ol’ US of A, Netflix is now leading 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: £5.99/month (£8.99 for a premium account, which will get you 4K HD quality, for the real movie buffs)
Number of films: 4,000 +
Offers: 30 day free trial – remember to cancel if you change your mind
HD: Some films and shows
Top picks:
The Hunger Games, The Inbetweeners Movie, Boyhood, The Big Short.

Netflix Free Trial »

NowTV

nowtvNowTV is the new guy on the block of movie streaming subscriptions. The service is a bit more costly – £9.99 for a film subscription and £4.99 for a TV subscription – but this is perhaps because NowTV tend to have a much more up-to-date film catalogue with loads of the latest releases compared to other subscription services.

As NowTV is owned by Sky, you get access to all the films available on Sky Cinema.

Price: £9.99/month for movie package (£5.99/month for Entertainment pass/TV pass)
Number of films: About 1,000 films
Offers: 30 day free trial – just remember to cancel if you change your mind
HD: No
Top picks: Les Miserables, Fantastic Four, Straight Outta Compton, Skyfall. 

NowTV Free Trial »

Pay-per-view services

watch films online laptopCredit: Junpinzon – 123rf
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!

TalkTalk TV Store

talktalk tv store logoFormerly owned by Tesco and known as ‘Blinkbox’, TalkTalk TV Store is now (you guessed it!) owned by TalkTalk and has had a bit of an upgrade in the process.

One of the bonuses of TalkTalk TV store is that if you don’t want to stream the film, you can download it and watch it later on, so this is perfect if you’re planning any long train journeys or will be somewhere without wifi to stream your films.

Prices from: 99p (when special offers are on)
Top Releases from:
£3.45 to rent; £8.99 to buy
Number of films:
10,000+

Check out TalkTalk TV Store »

iTunes

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

Check out  iTunes movies »

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”

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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. 🙂

      Reply
  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.

    Reply

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