YouTube's Free Streaming Movies and TV Shows

Stream Free Movies and Shows on YouTube

Illustration of a woman watching a scary movie on her laptop.

Theresa Chiechi ©Lifewire

YouTube is well known as a video streaming website but it also offers free online movies in their original full length, some of which even include closed captions. YouTube includes genre-specific TV shows, too.

The free movies on YouTube come from a lot of different places because there are tons of different users that can upload content, so new movies are also added often. Some of the movies have advertisements before or during the video, but this is a small price to pay for free movies.

YouTube’s Free Streaming Movies

YouTube offers free movies in various genres, some of which are comedy, action & adventure, animated, crime, documentaries, horror, and classics. However, even though there exists lots of videos in those genres, you can't actually browse through the movies inside any particular genre. They're instead just part of the rest of YouTube's massive video collection.

However, there is a section of "Free to watch" movies on YouTube which you can access here. All of them are ad-supported and provided officially from YouTube.

Some films are instead categorized in specific YouTube channels. A few channels that have full movies include Viewster, The Paramount Vault, Maverick Movies, FUNimation, Timeless Classic Movies, Timeless Western Movies, and Popcornflix. Once in a channel like these, you can go to the VIDEOS tab and sort the movies by popularity and date to find a free movie to stream.

Screenshot of the full-length movies available on YouTube through Maverick Movies
Maverick Movies Video Selection.

Another way to find full length movies on YouTube is to use the FILTER option when doing a search. You can filter the results to show movies only, and/or change the duration to show only long videos, which should help you find free movies.

Screenshot showing how to find movies on YouTube with a filtered search
Filtering a YouTube Search to Find a Movie. ​

Yet another way to search through YouTube is with a third-party site called Zero Dollar Movies. They have cataloged thousands of free movies from YouTube, so you can browse the genres they've built or do a search for a movie title. They have movies from the early 1900s up to 2015.

Screenshot showing how to use Zero Dollar Movies to find free YouTube movies
Finding YouTube Movies Through Zero Dollar Movies.

Similar to Zero Dollar Movies is Reddit's Full Movies On YouTube, which is where users can post links to full length films found on YouTube.

Free Streaming TV Shows at YouTube

There are also free TV shows to be found at YouTube, but like movies, they're not easily searchable. There is a Shows page but none of them are free to watch.

Unfortunately, the only way to find free TV shows on YouTube is to do a manual search for them just like you would for movies.

YouTube’s Video Quality

Screenshot of a YouTube movie's video quality options
YouTube's Video Quality Options.

Most of the free movies on YouTube are available from 144p to 480p, but there are some that are as high as 720p and 1080p.

Clicking the small settings icon on the bottom of YouTube's video player lets you switch between the available quality settings.

Benefits of Registering With YouTube

Registering with YouTube is completely free, and anyone can join. If you have a Google account, like a Gmail email address, you can sign in that way. However, registering isn’t required, so you can watch many free movies without ever creating an account.

Some free movies on YouTube are rated at a particular maturity level that requires YouTube to verify your age. If this is the case, then registering with YouTube will enable you to view even more free movies.

Where YouTube Gets Its Movies

Different businesses are able to show free movies on their own registered accounts on YouTube. Then, those free movies are gathered in one place for easy viewing.

Some of the free movies on YouTube are from Crackle, Starz Media, and Viewster to name just a few sources.

Many times, however, you may find a movie on YouTube one day and then find that it's been removed shortly after. This is because anyone can upload videos to YouTube, which means even copyrighted material may be uploaded from time to time. However, these types of movies and TV shows are regularly removed to clean up the video collection.

System Requirements for YouTube

To watch movies on YouTube, it’s necessary to have a web browser like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or Opera, as well as be running an updated operating system like Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. It’s also important to have at least a 1 Mbps Internet connection to ensure a steady stream of good viewing quality.