Movies & TV Shows on the Internet
In the old days, people in need of a cinematic fix had to either trek to the movie theatre or visit a brick-and-mortar facility. But advances in technology have changed all that, and now online movies and TV shows can be streamed over your TV or computer, downloaded to your iPod or Blu-ray player, and even delivered to your door by the postal service. Yes, my friends, the times they are a changin’.
In the following article dedicated to all aspects of movies online, we’ll be looking at some of the best places to find online movies for free, as well as subscription services dedicated to bringing you all the best streaming online movies. We’ll also examine the types of subscription plans, the best sites to find online movies for kids, and the much-loathed practice known as “throttling.”
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Online Movies and TV Shows
If you’re on a quest to enjoy some online movies and TV shows from the comfort of your home, you’ll find the number of choices initially confusing. But before we get to the best options available, let’s first look at the kind of subscription plans you might encounter, how renting movies online works, and the practice of “throttling.” And don’t forget that online movie rental services offer one major advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts: no late fees.
How Renting Online Movies and TV Shows Works
Most online subscription services work the same way, so the following section should apply to almost any company you choose (with the exception of Redbox, where you get the movie out of a kiosk and return it the same way).
- Step 1 – Look at the array of online movies and TV shows, and make your selection. You’ll then be able to choose whether to have the title delivered to your home or streamed online.
- Step 2 – If you watch the movie or TV show online, there’s nothing more to tell. As soon as the movie has ended, you can choose to watch another one if you wish. If it’s delivered to your home, then you put it back into the mailbox when you’re through (postage is always pre-paid). As soon as that title is received by the service, the next title on your list will be mailed out.
That’s all there is to it. Most services allow you to keep movies out as long as you like, and there are never any pesky late fees to worry about.
Subscription Plans for Online Movies and TV Shows
When you join an online movie service, these are the subscription options you’re most likely to encounter:
- Limited – The customer can only receive a certain number of titles per month, as well as a limited number of movies at a time. This usually applies to the cheaper subscription options, and streaming online movies are often exempt.
- Unlimited – While customers can only have a certain number of movies at home at one time, there’s no limit to the number of movies they can rent in a month.
- Package – Instead of an individual disc, the customer receives a package of discs. All discs in the package are returned at the same time.
- Peer to Peer Trading – Customers exchange movies directly with other members via the mail. This option isn’t used very often.
- Pay-As-You-Go – There is no monthly rental charge with this plan, and customers only pay for the movies that they watch.
- Season Rental – All the movies of an entire film series can be received at once, as well as all the discs in a single season of a television show. All of the discs in a season rental are returned at the same time.
Perhaps the most despised practice when it comes to renting online movies and TV shows, throttling occurs when a subscriber rents enough movies in a month to result in the company losing money on the pre-paid postage option. When this happens, the company may slow down the delivery time of movies by having them sent from a delivery center that’s located farther away. All of the major companies have been accused of this practice, and Netflix has even come up with a term to make it sound not as bad: “fairness algorithm.” This has resulted in lawsuits and hard feelings, but throttling isn’t something you’ll have to worry about unless you run through movies like crazy. Still, it does exist, so you might as well be familiar with the practice.
Online Movies for Free
Many cinephiles with an Internet connection enjoy the option of watching online movies for free. As you might expect, there are a number of sites which offer such services without regard for copyright laws, while others provide movies that are in the public domain are have otherwise been licensed. This section will focus on the latter, as I have no desire to get my pants sued off by some overly ambitious lawyer at one of the Hollywood studios. Most of the sites listed below offer free streaming online movies, although the option to download to your computer is sometimes available.
- Hulu – A joint effort between NBC Universal, Disney-ABC Entertainment Group, and Fox Entertainment Group, Hulu allows visitors to watch a number of free streaming movies and TV shows. And I’m not talking about episodes of Sanford and Son; you can view the latest episodes of The Office, The Daily Show, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and many other recent hit programs. The movies and episodes are rotated from time to time, and shows that are rotated off the free Hulu site can later be viewed by joining the Hulu Plus subscription service. Some of the current networks that can be viewed on Hulu include: ABC, NBC, FOX, PBS, USA, NFL Network, Bravo, Fuel, Speed, A&E, Oxygen, Versus, G4, FX, Syfy, Sundance, E!, Spike, MTV, Comedy Central, and many more. Viewing options include your computer, television, iPhone, iPad, and iPod.
- Joost – This site includes channels ranging from BET to MTV, and these plenty of sports action and celebrity gossip to keep you entertained. Besides watching Joost on your PC, recent innovations also allow users to go mobile and enjoy it on their portable device.
- TVchannelsfree.com – If you’ve always wondered what people in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe are watching, then give this unique and free website a try. North American programming is included, and a selection of free online movies can also be enjoyed.
- YouTube – There’s a strong chance that you’ve used YouTube over the years to watch fat people falling down and funny animals performing all kinds of tricks. Did you know, however, that numerous motion pictures and television shows can be viewed for free? Some of these are submitted by users, although these are broken up into smaller segments. The site itself also includes a number of films in the public domain, allowing you to watch free streaming movies without a lot of fuss. And once you’re through, you can check out some laughing babies and people accidentally knocking themselves unconscious.
- FEARnet – Want to watch free horror movies online without going to prison or getting fined? That’s where FEARnet comes in, as they offer a rotation of numerous tales of terror. Granted, many of them are of the less-than-brilliant kind, but horror fans have come to expect that from the genre anyway.
- FreeTubeTV – This site includes a large array of channels dedicated to presenting sports, TV shows, religious programming, adult content, as well as business and educational options. A number of free streaming movies are also available, including genres ranging from kung-fu films to sci-fi, horror, and romance.
- Veoh – Combining online movies for free with the social networking craze, Veoh allows users to use webcam images, Facebook pics, or 3D avatars to identify themselves while chatting with other visitors. Meanwhile, you can also enjoy the latest movie trailers, music videos, TV shows, and feature films.
- Google Video – Similar in design to YouTube, Google Video offers movie trailers, the latest news reports, and free online TV shows and movies.
- Fancast – Fancast presents a range of large-sized, free online videos, with TV shows included Friends, CSI, Arrested Development, Family Guy, South Park, Star Trek, and many more. Online movies are also included, as well as movie trailers, news reports, and editorial content from around the globe. Networks include HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Encore, Starz, ABC, BET, CMT, CNN, FOX, Comedy Central, IFC, Nick, PBS, USA, Lifetime, and many more. Do note, however, that you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription to enjoy all the shows from the premium cable channels.
- Indie Movies Online – Dedicated to supporting independent films, this site offers up the best motion pictures and documentaries made without the interference of major studios. You probably haven’t heard of most of the films playing on this site, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth watching.
Streaming Online Movies
While being able to watch free online movies is a real treat, your selection is often limited. But thanks to the many pay services available, there are hundreds of thousands of movies at your fingertips. If you’re into streaming online movies, be sure to sign up with one of these services. And just in case you’re wondering, I recommend Netflix.
- Netflix - With a library of over 100,000 movies and TV shows, Netflix is the biggest online service in the United States. Members can choose to have films delivered right to their door by the postal service, or you can enjoy streaming online movies on your PC or television set. Numerous membership plans are available, new selections are constantly being added, and their number of delivery centers (which determine how long it takes for a movie to reach you) is second to none. .
- Blockbuster - While their land-based stores are going under in droves, Blockbuster is still plugging along online. They have almost as many movies as Netflix, but they also offer video game rentals. And just like Netflix, you can choose to either have movies delivered to your home or stream them online. Their future is uncertain at the moment, but they make an excellent alternative for anyone who blindly refuses to sign up with Netflix.
- Redbox – While they don’t offer streaming online movies, any list of major Internet film services should include this growing company. Redbox kiosks are located in many convenience stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies, and the movies inside can be rented for online $1 per day. While every step can be performed right at the machine, you can also choose to log into their website and reserve a movie to be picked up when you get off work. A favorite choice for soccer moms.
- GreenCine – If indie and foreign movies are your thing, then be sure to give GreenCine a try. Their library has swelled to include 50,000 titles, and they have more anime than any service offering streaming online movies. Films can also be received via the mail, and a sister service called BlueCine also allows subscribers to receive adult films alongside movies for the family (just be careful not to get the two mixed up). Based in San Francisco, their single shipping center means members on the East Coast may have to wait as long as four days to receive a shipped movie (although one feature ensures that you next film will ship to you as soon as you’ve put the old one in the mailbox).
- VUDU – With this service, you can watch streaming online movies and avoid any bloated subscription fees. You only pay for what you watch, and streaming can be enjoyed via your PC, TV, Playstation 3, or Blu-Ray player. Films are presented in high definition, and movies are available the same day they come out on DVD.
- CinemaNow – Thanks to Best Buy, subscribers to this service can download movies to their PC and even legally burn them to a disc. Their library of titles is slowly expanding, but it looks to be a long time before they challenge streaming online movie giants such as Netflix and Blockbuster.
- BIGFlix – The largest online rental service in India, BIGFlix carries an endless supply of your favorite Bollywood films. They carry over 15,000 films in their library, and you can sign up and enjoy their service from anywhere in the world.
- iTunes – This popular online service sells downloadable online movies and television shows in addition to their vast stock of music. The cost of a movie is cheaper than buying in on DVD, and playback is available on you iPad, iPhone, or iPod.
- Amazon – They sell everything else, so why not movie rentals? In addition to watching streaming online movies that have just come to DVD, you can also catch certain indie films before they’re even released in theatres.
- Big Pond Movies – Owned by the country’s largest Internet provider, Big Pond is only available to residents of Australia. Rentals can be delivered right to your door, or you can choose to watch streaming online movies instead. The latter option allows you access to the movies for a set period of time (usually 48 hours).
- LoveFilm – The top online rental service in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, LoveFilm has over 67,000 titles to choose from. Their membership numbers over one-million customers, and movies can either be received via mail or streamed online via your personal computer.
- DVD Avenue – While this U.S. online rental service carries all the blockbuster titles you might expect, they also allow customers to receive video games and adult movies.
- iReel – Available to subscribers in the United States and Canada, iReel specializes in online streaming movies, and titles can be viewed for up to a month. Titles are shown in high definition, although you must pay for each rental in addition to the monthly membership fee.
- eHit.com – Operating since 2001, this online rental service carries both American films and a wide range of motion pictures from Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and China.
- HindiFlix – A U.S.-based online rental service that specializes in films from Bollywood.
- CinFlix – With no late fees and thousands of titles to choose from, this service offers one of the largest selections of foreign (especially Asian) titles.
- DVD2GO – A movie rental service available in the Monterrey and Guadalajara areas of Mexico. That’s assuming, of course, that members of a drug cartel don’t hijack the shipment before it gets to your house.
- Canflix – One of the leading online movie rental services in Canada.
- Zip.ca – The largest online movie rental service in Canada. Over fifty percent of online subscribers in Canada subscribe to this service.
- Cinemail – A Canadian online movie rental service.
- Videomatica – Another Canadian movie rental service that’s available online.
- Musimundo Videoclub – The top online movie renter in the nation of Argentina.
- Cineadomicilio – Colombia’s leading movie rental services, with both brick-and-mortar stores and an online rental option.
- Cinema Paradiso – An online rental service based in the UK.
- OutNow! – Another online movie rental service available in the UK.
- Glorimedia – Online movie rental service available in Germany.
- Videobuster – One of the top services offering online video rentals in Germany.
- DVDPost – If you live in Belgium, this is the place to go for streaming online movies.
- Film Express – One of the oldest and most respected online movie rental services in Switzerland.
- Screenclick – Citizens of Ireland prefer this company when it comes to renting movies online.
- DVD Sokagi – A Turkish online movie rental service.
- Film Servisi – A movie rental company located in Turkey.
- Evde Izle – A service located in Turkey that rents movies online.
- FilmAmora - A leading online rental service that serves the residents of Spain.
- Fatso – Formed when the three leading companies merged, Fatso provides online movie rentals to the residents of New Zealand.
- Quickflix – Offers over 35,000 movies to the people of Australia.
- RussianMovies - Specializes in renting movies to all the Russian immigrants living in Australia.
- Madhouse – An online rental service locate in India.
- ClickFlix – Another movie rental service located in India.
- CineSprite – Yet another online movie rental company located in the nation of India.
- PushPlay – One of the major services in South Africa.
- DVDs Online – An online movie rental company located in South Africa.
- BigPix – Located in South Africa, this company is one of the leaders when it comes to streaming online movies.
- Rakuten Rental – Residents of Japan can receive movies online from this service.
- Posren – If you live in Japan and want to enjoy streaming online movies, be sure to give this service a try.
- Tsutaya Discas – Another online movie rental service based in the always wacky nation of Japan.
That concludes our list of services offering streaming online movies and deliveries right to your door.
Online Movies for Kids
If you’re looking for online movies for kids (and assuming you live in the United States), you should start by checking out Netflix and Blockbuster Online. Here’s what they have to offer:
- Netflix - They have a section labeled “Children and Family,” and it’s packed with more online movies for kids than you can shake a stick at. Subcategories include: Ages 0-2, Ages 2-4, Ages 5-7, Ages 8-10, Ages 11-12, Animal Tales, Book Characters, Cartoons, Coming of Age, Dinosaurs, Disney, Educational & Guidance, Family Adventures, Family Animation, Family Classics, Family Comedies, Family Dramas, Family Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Kids Music, Kids TV, Nickelodeon, Teen Comedies, Teen Dramas, and Teen Romance.
- Blockbuster – They have a section for “Family Movies” and “Kids Movies,” and the sub-categories include: Infant, Toddler, Ages 4-6, Ages 7-10, Ages 11-13, Children’s Entertainment, Family Adventure, Family Classics, Family Comedy, and Kids Fantasy.
Of course, keep in mind that almost every online movie rental service will have a similar section, so finding online movies for kids shouldn’t be tough at all.