How to Watch TV Series Free Online

- by Sarah Connelly

Being caught for illegally viewing TV in the UK without a television licence could be expensive. Check out this free guide to find out what you can do safely to watch TV online for free legally in the UK.

How to Watch TV Series Free Online - Cashfloat


Basic Sky or Virgin cable bundles start at over £20 per month. With add-ons to movies, boxed sets, kids TV, sports and the extras, a monthly bill of £80 a month or more can quickly become a reality. Adding boxes to view TV in other rooms costs more than &poun;10 a room each month. This can very easily take the bill to over £1200 a year. This article from Cashfloat will guide you on where to find legal online entertainment systems so that you can protect your online safety as well as avoid fines. You shouldn’t need to pay too much to watch TV series free online in the UK.

There are many ads on social media and elsewhere to tempt us to look at ways of saving money on TV. Many of these “services” use a “Kodi” box or similar. For a one-off fee followed by modest monthly payments they tempt us to sign up for all bells and whistles TV via our broadband internet connection for a modest outlay. This is in addition to the compulsory purchase of a television licence. We will also guide you through what you cannot view without breaking the law in the UK.

In this article, we will look at:
  • TV streaming sites
  • Free live TV
  • TV licence number
  • How much is a TV licence?
  • Is watching BBC iPlayer illegal?
  • Save money on cable on demand

TV streaming sites

TV streaming sites like or enable you to watch TV series free online via your broadband internet connection. Streaming has blossomed as broadband speeds and capacity have increased. Streaming has virtually replaced “hard” copies of films, replacing the often illegally pirated DVDs of past years. Live streaming is also more attractive than downloading TV shows or films as it enables the viewer to watch “live”, even from “catch-up” sites. This can be instead of having to download and store illegal copies of programmes or movies on your device. In addition, you can stream a movie that you have chosen. You don’t have to suffer through a TV movie that you do not enjoy!

Precautions to take if you choose to use illegal websites to watch TV series free online

Warning: Watching TV series free online through illegal websites can expose you to online risks such as hacking, trojans, malware and more. If you still want to take the risk and use these websites, you should at least:

  1. Instal an ad-blocker
  2. Have up-to-date antivirus running on your device, even if it’s a mobile device
  3. Never follow any links from the website you are watching on
  4. Only stay on the tab that the website is on. IMMEDIATELY close any tabs or windows that open automatically, even if it looks like they are a continuation of the website you are watching on, they are not!
One study of the most frequently used illegal film and TV sites in the UK found that 90% contained malware and other unwanted programs designed to defraud users!
One study of the most frequently used illegal film and TV sites in the UK found that 90% contained malware and other unwanted programs designed to defraud users!

Rather than expose youself for the dangers of watching TV series on illegal websites, it might be worth paying a small fee so you can watch your TV series with peace of mind. The best paid services for watching TV online are:

  1. Netflix – Netflix has a huge range of TV series, and for a flat rate fee of £5.99 a month, you have unlimited access to everything! Netflix also come out with their own exclusive TV shows, inlcuding the popular shows ‘The Crown’, ‘Dynasty’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’
  2. Microsoft also provide streaming on the most popular TV shows for a fee. You can check out their options here.

Are TV streaming sites legal to watch TV series free online in the UK?

Streaming movies or TV series via the internet does not directly break TV licensing laws in the UK. However, it is illegal as it contravenes international copyright laws. According to media reports, nobody has been prosecuted in the UK for streaming TV or films. This is because the licensing authorities along with the copyright owners (film studios, broadcasters, etc.) have decided to pursue the people actually providing or distributing illegal streaming.

Obviously, they are easier to locate and catch. Plus, closing down one website will result in a much larger effect on illegal streaming and downloading activity than going after individuals. Various regulating bodies removed many streaming and file sharing sites in recent years. In addition, some operators have been pursued through the courts. Consequently, some have got prison sentences and massive fines for allowing people to watch movies or watch TV series free online illegally. Hopefully, this should deter more criminals from opening more illegal websites.

The UK's creative industry employs 1.5 million people, account for £36 billion in revenues but lost £500 million a  year due to copyright theft!
The UK's creative industry employs 1.5 million people, account for £36 billion in revenues but lost £500 million a  year due to copyright theft!

Free live TV

Is there such a thing as free live TV in the UK? The simple answer is no!

The UK government mandates that you must pay for a TV Licence to view any free live TV. This is mandated under the Communications Act 2003 and Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004. Under this legislation, it is an offence to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on any channel and on any broadcast platform. You also cannot download or watch BBC programmes on demand. This includes catch up TV on BBC iPlayer without a valid TV Licence.

TV License Renewal

When the new year rolls around, it is time to renew your TV license. This is one of the expenses that falls into a specific category. If you don’t have enough cash ready to pay the license, and still want to watch TV, it may be worthwhile for you to take out a pay day loan in order to pay the yearly subscription. Watching TV without a subscription means you could be fined. The maximum fine is £1,000. Should you be fined £1,000, you will still have to pay the yearly subscription on top of the cost of the fine.

Although there are always loopholes in the law, it is not worth trying to be too clever. Rather be covered by a license, and watch TV with a clear conscience, and no fear of being fined.

Watching BBC iPlayer Online

A recent amendment to the legislation, in autumn 2016, has closed one of the few loopholes some viewers were able to take advantage of previously: It is now illegal to download or watch BBC iPlayer programmes on any mobile device anywhere in the country without having a TV license. This applies regardless of what device you are using and to any internet provider you use for your connection.

It will be interesting to see if there is ever a test case in the courts. It would appear that you, the viewer, would be liable. But what about the business owner/manager? Would they also be guilty of permitting you to break the law by exceeding their TV Licence provision? No doubt this will be a field-day for some enterprising lawyers!

You should take extra care if you are travelling and wish to watch TV series free online or download from the BBC iPlayer. If you have a TV licence at home, it covers your mobile device while you are travelling. This is as long as it is using its own built-in batteries wherever you are in the UK.

However, if you plug your device into to the mains to use it, your home TV Licence does not cover you. You will need to check that the premises you are using the device in are licensed. This will allow you to use your device on BBC iPlayer. This could become complicated for venues such as hotels or pubs. This is because their basic TV Licences are for up to 15 TV receivers. Extra money will need to be paid for each extra five.

TV licence number

Your TV licence number is a ten digit number clearly shown at the top of your existing licence. Your TV Licence number will also show on any bank statement where you pay your fees by Direct Debit.

A TV license costs £145.50 for colour and £49 for black and white - Cashfloat

The licence fee only rises when a government accedes to requests from the BBC, and to a lesser extent Channel 4 which is partly funded by the licence fee, for an increase. Certain types of a residential home have special fee schemes available. Licences are issued in one name only. However, they cover use by all members of a household, along with visitors throughout the premises.

Can I be fined for not having a TV Licence?

Yes, you can. Since 1991 the BBC has been the relevant licensing authority for TV licences in the UK. The BBC maintains a central database of over 31 million properties in the UK. Conveniently, all its enforcement officers have direct access to this information. Therefore, they can tell in an instant if the television in your home is licensed or not. Failure to have a current TV licence results in a penalty of up to £1000 plus costs. (Note: The fine in Jersey is up to £2000, in Guernsey up to £500).

The BBC targets suspect properties from it’s central database. Its fleet of TV detector vans operate throughout the country and can determine how many TVs are operating within any address. They can even see what channel you are watching! This is without even needing to enter the property! Hiwever, they will not be able to detect someone using a PC or mobile device to watch TV series free online illegally.

It is important for pensioners aged over 74 to remember that they must have a valid free TV Licence. Failure to renew free licences on time annually renders views liable to the same fines as detailed above.

Licences are issued by addresses. The TV Licence is required regardless of how you obtain your TV signals. As such, any source including all the following means you need a current TV Licence: Freeview (via traditional aerial), Freesat or YouView, Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV, Apple, Roku or Amazon. Even watching YouTube downloads on a television set requires you to have an up to date television licence, as does watching “catch-up” TV.

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Is watching BBC iPlayer illegal without a licence?

Without a valid TV Licence, it is. At home and on the move with your device operating off its own battery power source you will be covered by your home TV Licence.

However, watch out! If you plug in the device you are using to watch BBC iPlayer, you will need to ensure the premises you are in is licensed. Otherwise, it will be illegal. Be aware that listening to BBC iPlayer audio programmes and podcasts does not require a licence. Likewise, listening to radio services through analogue of digital (DAB) radio receivers does not require a license either.

Save money on cable on demand

TV and movies on-demand services are becoming increasingly popular in the UK now. Many people, especially younger generations, are turning away from the fixed timetable of broadcast programming. Instead, they are opting for on-demand services instead. Busy lifestyles and a desire to “binge-watch” entire series of blockbuster TV dramas have helped promote on-demand services. There is also a preference by many to save money by avoiding getting tied in to expensive subscription services.

Mostly, this is because no one really watches 99% of the hundreds of channels on offer for 2 years. With cable on demand services, fed via your broadband connection, you only pay for what you want to watch, as you watch it. In this way, you are not being tied into long-term, expensive contracts.

How to Watch TV Series Free Online - Cashfloat

Price comparison websites come into their own to enable you to find the most economical way to purchase the TV or movie services you desire. Even the BBC is getting in on the game of providing advice about which on-demand services could best meet your needs. The Radio Times, a respected publication which has existed since before television came to exist have produced their own guide to services and prices of the major on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC Store and others.

Save Money by Avoiding Fees and Charges

Whichever route you choose, legal or illegal there are costs which can be very high. Getting caught without a TV Licence can end up costing you as much as the most expensive Sky or Virgin packages.

Can you really afford to risk being fined £1200 or more each year without getting into debt? Could you satisfy your entertainment needs for much less? Possibly, this could help you put the savings into a fund for other treats or activities. You could start doing activities that you normally miss out on due to a shortage of money every month?

Before committing to an expensive TV package, or risking the expense and dangers of illegal streaming of TV or movies, consider if you can enjoy most of what you need on a much more modest budget. Many people can satisfy all their home entertainment needs with Freeview. This method of delivery claims to deliver at least 70 TV channels, 15 HD channels, and more than 30 radio stations representing over 95% of the UK’s favourite programmes. They claim to offer 27 of the top 30 UK TV channels free of monthly charges.

How to get Freeview Reception

Most new television sets sold in the UK come with built-in Freeview reception. If your TV does not have this, you can purchase relatively inexpensive Freeview digital set-top boxes for a one-off purchase price. Once you install your Freeview TV or Freeview set-top box, there are no monthly fees. Think of the savings you can make to your monthly household budget.

Freeview is available in most UK locations. Just enter your postcode and house number on their website to see if you can receive their free multi-channel TV services.

Conclusion – How to Watch TV Legally

So, how do you choose to watch TV series free online? Do you need to spend vast amounts on the most expensive cable or satellite TV packages? Most of which you may not watch? Or, would you prefer to save potentially over £1000 a year – even after paying £147 for a colour TV Licence? Naturally, it’s your choice – but you know which one will help you avoid taking unnecessary personal cash loans.

View smart, keep legal and avoid the streaming crooks, stay out of debt and save money for real life adventures or luxuries.

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About The Author
Sarah Connelly
Sarah is a dynamic writer and blogger with a keen interest in digital marketing. After completing her degree in Computer Science, Sarah realized her need for a creative outlet, leading her to blend her technical skills with content creation at Cashfloat.
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