Watching TV online


Whether you're bored with your current TV options, or simply want to work out what is available to watch online, then today's blog is for you. 

Unfortunately, there isn't a single platform that offers all your favourite movies and shows, (this is due to issues around copyright of shows) so chances are, you will need to use more than one. Some allow you to watch for free, others are a subscription service. If you do choose to pay for one, then make sure you sign up for a free trial,and check the films and shows you want are available. 



I-player: BBC I-player provides access to shows and movies broadcast on BBC channels. You can watch online, or download the app for free. Some shows are also available to download to your device. You do need to confirm you have a TV license to use this service, although they do not ask for proof. 

BBC Programme explorer allows you to discover 214,308 programmes from a variety of sources across the BBC, including those currently available on BBC Sounds, and the BBC iPlayer. Do a simple text search or combine your query with a variety of search filters to narrow your results.


If ITV shows are more your thing, then the ITV Hub offers access to shows which have been broadcast on ITV, and to watch live TV. You can watch for free, but will have to watch adverts. For an ad free experience, pay for access to the ITV Hub Plus.  The current cost is £3.99 per month. 


All 4 offers access to shows broadcast on Channel 4. You need to sign up for a free account, or you can have an ad free experience for £3.99 a month. 


With Freeview, there is no monthly subscription, and they pull together content from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. You can watch online for free, or download the app for phone or tablet. 

UK TV Play

If you're a fan of Dave, Yesterday or the Drama channel, you can watch their shows for free with UK TV Play. You do need to sign up for a free account.

Satellite TV providers also have their own online channel included in their subscription costs such as Sky, NowTV, BT TV and Virgin etc, Many of them also allow you to include other subscriptions, such as Netflix, through your satellite box. 

Subscription Services


Netflix is still the leader in subscription services, and they have a huge range of films and shoes, including series that they commission and pay for. Prices start at £5.99 a month, if only one person uses the account at a time. If you want to use it for up to 4 people at a time, it goes up to £11.99 a month. I particularly like the ability to have different profiles for each person using the account, and separate watch lists. My watch list is never empty!

Amazon Prime

I also have an Amazon Prime account. Although I tend to watch more on Netflix, there are much wider benefits with Prime that I use, such as free next-day delivery on a wide range of items; a Kindle book every month; music streaming, and digital magazines. You can sign up for a free 30 day trial. The service costs £7.99 per month. 


If you have children (or simply love Disney) then you may want to consider their subscription service. It costs £5.99 a month, and you can have a free trial for a week to work out if you do want to subscribe. 


ITV and the BBC have combined to offer Britbox, a subscription service for £5.99 a month that allows ad free access to their shows. There is a 30 day free trial, that will allow you to explore the content, and decide whether there is enough for you to watch. 

TV Player

TV player gives you access to watch 40 free to air TV Channels - such as BBC etc, and their online content. If you don't want the costs of a Sky or Virgin TV subscription, and you have a smart TV connected to the internet, you could use services like TV player as a cheaper option. The cost is £6.99 a month. 

Choosing a service

  • Choosing the platforms to use will depend on what you want to watch. If you want to binge watch box sets and TV shows, then either use the free players, or pay for Britbox.
  • If you prefer to watch movies, or want a good mix of movies and series, then you might find Netflix or Amazon Prime are better options for you. 
  • Consider what device you want to use, and whether you have to download the app to use the service. 
  • If you have children, take advantage of the parental controls, so that your children can't access inappropriate content. 
  • Whichever you consider, make sure you take advantage of the free trial, before committing to pay for access. 
  • Read this article about the different streaming services to help you decide. 

of course, there are other ways to watch TV for free, but be careful, as some of them do skirt the law, so tend to get shut down or move a lot. 

Happy watching!

© 2018 Denice Penrose
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