How to watch TV and movies for free online

Updated: 05/06/2024 by Computer Hope

With broadband becoming widely available globally, more people are switching from paid cable to streaming TV shows and movies online. This page covers many of the different streaming options available today, and ways to utilize both free and paid services.

Free TV

Yes and no. Depending on how you watch TV on the Internet determines if it's legal or not. Often, the easiest way to tell if the content is legal is if it contains advertisements or a sponsor. Content producers generally cannot afford to release their content without some outside support, which usually comes in the form of ads. If you are downloading or watching TV without commercials or sponsorship, it may be illegal. Other ways of determining whether a site is legal are described later on this page.

Where can I watch TV and movies for free?

The websites listed below allow users to watch TV shows through their site. Some sites provide streaming TV for free, but with limited content. Other sites require a small subscription fee or a cable or satellite service subscription to watch all available shows. Also, you may need to log in with your cable or satellite service account to verify your eligibility to watch TV shows through the site. However, no additional fees are incurred.


There are a lot of places today that stream TV and movies, which makes it difficult to find where something can be watched for free. Thankfully, sites like JustWatch and Yidio help you find everywhere a show or movie is streaming, and if it's available for free.

  • Tubi - One of the best and largest locations to find free TV shows and movies. Tubi offers licensed content from various companies. This service generates revenue through advertisements.
  • Roku channel - Roku has a fantastic streaming device that connects you with many of the services mentioned on this page and offers the Roku channel. The Roku channel allows all users to watch free TV shows and movies on their computer or Roku device.
  • YouTube - Most people are familiar with YouTube. However, not everyone knows about YouTube TV, a paid service for watching TV online, and YouTube Movies, which has a lot of free full movies shown with ads.
  • Puffer - A free service operated by Stanford University that streams broadcast TV from California. The available channels are PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and CW.
  • Vudu - Site with thousands of free movies to watch with advertisements.
  • Pluto TV - Watch on-demand movies, TV, and videos for free.
  • Popcornflix - Great free site for watching TV shows, movies, and videos with limited ads.
  • Plex - Not only does Plex have an excellent service for hosting TV shows and movies, but it also offers numerous free TV shows, movies, and live TV.
  • Redbox - Many in the United States are familiar with the Redbox DVD (digital versatile disc) kiosks outside of gas stations, but many don't realize they also offer hundreds of free streaming movies.
  • Freevee - Free streaming service from Amazon that offers thousands of movies, TV shows, and Freevee originals.
  • Crackle - Another great free streaming service that offers TV shows and movies.
  • IMDb TV - IMDb TV is an advertisement-supported service allowing users with a free IMDb account to watch full-length movies and shows for free.
  • Internet Archive - A great collection of thousands of older and classic public domain movies to watch for free without advertising.
  • A&E - The A&E TV site features such popular shows as Dog the Bounty Hunter, Intervention, Obsessed, and The Cleaner.
  • ABC - The ABC page has many popular shows, such as Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Extreme Makeover, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, and Scrubs.
  • CBS - The CBS page has full shows from 60 Minutes, CSI, The Amazing Race, and more.
  • Comedy Central - The Comedy Central site features shows like The Daily Show, South Park, and more.
  • Discovery Channel - The Discovery Channel page features such shows as Expedition Unknown, Man vs. Wild, The Colony, Verminators, and more.
  • Fox - The Fox Broadcasting site features such popular shows as 24, American Idol, Cops, Family Guy, Hell's Kitchen, The Simpsons, and more.
  • FX - The FX page features such shows as 30 Days, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me, and more.
  • History Channel - Expedition Africa, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars, and more.
  • Lifetime - The Lifetime network features such shows as Army Wives, How I Met Your Mother, and How to Look Good Naked.
  • MTV - The MTV page features such shows as America's Best Dance Crew, The Hills, Punk'd, and more.
  • NBC - The NBC page has many popular shows such as America's Got Talent, ER, Heroes, Law and Order, The Office, Saturday Night Live, and many of their old classic shows.
  • Paramount Network - The Paramount Network page features such shows as Yellowstone, Bar Rescue, Ink Master, and Battle of the Fittest Couples.
  • TBS - The TBS page features shows such as 10 Items or Less, Family Guy, My Boys, and Seinfeld.
  • TheCW - The CW also features many of its shows, such as 90210, America's Top Model, Gossip Girl, and Melrose Place.
  • WB - The WB (Warner Bros.) site has an online collection of new and old shows, such as Angel, Babylon 5, Buffy, Smallville, Firefly, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and The Lake.
  • TLC - The TLC page features such shows as Cake Boss, Flip That House, Miami Ink, and Say Yes to the Dress.
  • TNT - The TNT site features popular shows online, such as Bones, ER, Law and Order, Saving Grace, and The Closer.
  • USA - The USA network features such shows as Burn Notice, Monk, Psych, and Royal Pains.
  • VH1 - The VH1 site features shows such as Brooke Knows Best, Sober House, and the T.O show.

Library-supported free movies

Hoopla and Kanopy are websites that offer free movies to anyone with a participating library or university card. The services offer thousands of available movies that are viewable without any advertisements.


Visiting your local library also gives you access to their DVD movies to borrow and watch for free at home.

Other websites and torrents available online may claim to offer even more movies for free. Unfortunately, most of these websites are services that are illegally streaming or providing links to places that illegally stream movies. Because these sites don't have the rights to show these movies, they're supported by malicious advertisements and malware that cause problems on your computer. Consequently, Computer Hope does not link to any of these sites.

  • Torrents - Downloading a TV show through BitTorrent is often illegal. These shows are put up and shared by people who do not have the rights to the Copyright.
  • TV streaming sites - Many TV sites are set up to link to other places on the Internet that stream or allow you to download full TV shows from external sources. These sites may have disclaimers citing they are not responsible for the content linked on the site and have broken video links. While the link sites are not illegal, the content being linked to often is. We also highly recommend avoiding these sites since many of them or the pages they are linking to are riddled with intrusive advertisements, spyware, porn, and other malware.

How do I know if the movie site is legal?

Below are indicators that may help identify if the site you're viewing has illegal content.

  • The website is not listed in our recommendations above of where to watch free movies.
  • Recommends its viewers use a VPN service or proxy to hide their IP address.
  • Showing recently released new Copyright-protected movies or movies still in theaters for free.
  • Has disclaimers or warnings that content is not delivered through their website and is not responsible for links you find on a third-party site.
  • The shows you attempt to view go to another website.
  • Requires additional app, software, or browser add-on to be installed.
  • Has a page or section mentioning how to make DMCA requests about movies posted illegally.
  • All free TV shows and movies are shown without advertisements.

Why should I not use an illegal movie site or service?

Trying to find the latest movie for free online may be tempting. However, we'd recommend not trying to illegally get a movie for the following reasons:

  • It's illegal and could result in a fine.
  • You're taking money away from the content creator and not supporting them for their work.
  • Websites that want to try making money from other people's work may rely on malicious advertisers that may install spyware or malware on your computer.
  • It's not guaranteed. Sites linking to other sites are full of broken links, and you often spend a lot of time trying to find a valid link, if one even exists.
  • It could disappear. Illegal content gets taken down by the content owners when found; you may be unable to finish a show or movie.
  • It's unreliable. It's expensive to host streaming content, and reliable hosts don't provide illegal content, so you encounter frequent buffering, or the movie may stop playing while it's being watched.

Non-free solutions

Not everything can be watched for free online; some services require a subscription fee. Below are popular paid services that offer users thousands of shows to watch.

Netflix logo
  • Netflix - Netflix charges a monthly membership fee. They have many movies and TV shows that are accessed online through their app or website. A large library of exclusive original content is also produced frequently and featured on Netflix. Also, they offer a separate rental service called that mails DVD (digital versatile disc) movies and series not included on Netflix's streaming service.
  • Hulu - Great place for TV shows, trailers, and some movies. Hulu is a joint venture between NBC, Fox, and many more. Hulu has two paid plans: a cheaper solution that shows ads and a more expensive version with no ads.
  • Apple TV+ - Apple TV+ is a streaming service from Apple. For monthly subscribers, a library of originally produced content is accessible through the Apple TV app.
  • Amazon Prime - Amazon Prime charges an annual fee. It is a service provided by Amazon. It gives free one-day or two-day shipping on all Amazon purchases and access to its streaming TV shows and movie library.
  • Criterion Channel - Stream classic and award-winning movies, including independent and experimental films from the Criterion Collection. Requires an HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) compatible viewing device, and may not be viewable on non-HDMI or non HDCP-compliant computers and monitors.
  • Disney+ - Disney+ is a subscription-based service from Disney that includes content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic, Lucasfilm, and other Disney-owned properties. Original content based on these Disney properties is also available exclusively through the platform.
  • Google Play Movies - Movies and TV series can be individually purchased or temporarily rented with Google Play money or other payment methods. These purchases can be played anytime on a device with the Google Play Movies app. Your purchases can also be accessed on YouTube by signing in with the same Google account.
  • HBO Max - HBO Max is a service included with your HBO subscription that gives you access to all HBO content and additional content from WarnerMedia.
  • iTunes - Apple iTunes includes movie and TV purchases and their music library. By signing in with your Apple ID, your iTunes movies and television series library can be accessed from any device.
  • YouTube TV - A live television service operated by YouTube that allows users to access live channels, make recordings, and access a library of movies and series on demand. Unlike other Google and YouTube entertainment services, YouTube TV is based on a subscription-based business model rather than rental on an individual basis.
  • ESPN+ - Watch live sports events and games, ESPN exclusive shows, and various sports-related TV series, like 30 For 30. ESPN+ content is accessible via the ESPN app on Smart TVs and mobile devices, and through the ESPN website with a paid monthly subscription.

Hardware devices that support Internet TV programs

Roku Ultra

Hardware devices, such as the Apple TV, Roku, TiVo, PS3, Wii, and Xbox, allow users to watch many online programs and support Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime programs.

There are also TVs that support an Internet connection, called Smart TVs, that come with or can access online service apps. Hulu and Netflix are two common programs included on Smart TVs.


If you have a Chromecast, Roku, or smart TV that supports casting, use your smartphone or a tablet to cast shows on your TV. Accessing shows through an app is easier because it doesn't require the app on the TV and removes the need for a TV remote.