15 ways to watch TV programmes and films online in the UK… legally

It may come as a bit of a shock to anyone deeply entrenched in YouTube, TBP and other P2P sites, but it is possible to watch a lot of TV shows and films online in the UK totally legally.

Some are even free.

It’s a fairly depressing exercise hunting them all down, though. Many services are only available in the US, have shut down or are on an extended hiatus.

Nevertheless, here are 15 services (eight free, seven paid for) that you can use to view TV programmes or films. If you know of any more that are legal and easily available in the UK, let us know in the comments below.

Free Online TV / Film Services


BBC Online / iPlayer

About: Offers live streaming of BBC1 and BBC2 plus 7-day programme catchup service.


  • Well-established service offering access to a wide range of BBC TV programming.
  • Wide range of platforms supported for either streaming or downloading content, including PC, Mac, iPhone, Nokia devices.
  • Shows from BBC HD are available to download in high definition.


  • Rights management issues means some programmes aren’t available to watch live or archived.
  • Streaming service can sometimes appear jittery (this may be due to broadband connection)

IBM adds advert serving to DVD spec – film watching is DEAD as a hobby

cillitbang-dvd-ad-ibm.jpgIn a move that sounds like they’re trying to kill off DVD on purpose and force everyone to turn to one of those boring new HD formats, IBM has patented an advert delivery system that can pause DVDs so you have the pleasure of watching an advert.

It’s like they’ve examined the strengths of the DVD format, then created a feature designed specifically to destroy it…