What is BFI Player?

BFI Player is a video on-demand streaming service - from the British Film Institute (BFI) - showing critically acclaimed, landmark and archive films.

Films are available either for rent, for subscription or for free - depending on their release and the rights we have secured with licensors.

Our rentals include the latest releases and acclaimed features, while subscription includes classic and cult films - with exclusives in both sections.

Our free archive films highlight the best shorts and features of the BFI National Archive as well as UK national, regional and partner archives.

Find out more under ‘How is content curated?’.

How do I watch films?

Important information for Apple mobile and tablet users:

If you use BFI Player on your iPhone or iPad iOS devices, you will need to update to the latest version of our app via the Apple Appstore.  

The basics:

You can watch BFI Player films only in the UK, because of licensor restrictions.

To stream our films, you must have internet access and a BFI Player compatible device. You cannot download films.

Devices and apps:

BFI Player films can be played on: PC; Mac; iOS devices - iPhone and iPad; and Android mobile and tablet devices.

You can also cast films to Apple TVs through AirPlay from your iPhone and iPad.

In order to view films on iOS devices, you need to:

  • Go to the AppStore, and update to the latest version of the BFI Player app - version 2.7 - launched on 12 September 2017;
  • Once the app is updated, you can browse the website as before and the app will start automatically when you press play on a film;
  • To cast to your Apple TV via AirPlay, swipe up from the bottom of your iOS device screen and select the option to mirror via AirPlay.

Android: Films will launch automatically in your browser when you press play - you no longer need an app to use BFI Player.  

Operating system versions:

We aim to support the latest versions of the most popular operating systems, browsers and devices.

We recommend that you update your operating system and browsers each time a new version is released for your device.

At a minimum, you should use the following for a good playback experience:

  • PC: Windows 8 or higher
  • Mac: Mac OS 10.10 or higher
  • iOS: iOS 9 or higher
  • Android: V6 Marshmallow or higher

Broadband connection:

We offer adaptive bitrate for playback that automatically adjusts to your internet connection speed.

However, buffering or pixelation may occur on slow internet connections below 10Mbps.

How do I rent or subscribe to watch films?

To pay for any rental film or subscription, you need to create an account via Sign up.

We accept Visa (16 digit cards only), Mastercard and Amex as payment methods.

Rental prices are based on release - such as coinciding with cinema releases or DVD releases - and rights agreements with licensors. BFI members can also get 15% discount on rentals.

You can find details of what you have rented, and what each film cost, in Account.

For subscription, you start with a free 30-day trial and then pay £4.99 a month, taken automatically from your payment card each month, unless you cancel your subscription. You can cancel any time, via Account/Subscription - where you will also find your payment history.

Whether you rent a film or subscribe, the card you have most recently used will be saved as your payment method. You can remove a card, but any associated subscription will expire at the end of your monthly billing period.  

Your personal card information is protected by an encrypted connection between your browser and our server. Your payments are processed by a third party payment partner, which has the highest level of compliance under the Payment Card industry Data Security Standard (PCI).

See more in our Terms of use and Account.

How do BFI members get discount on BFI Player?

BFI members can get 15% discount on all rentals by adding valid membership details - either when signing up for an account, via Account or when renting a film.

You will need to enter your membership number and registered postcode - your postcode should be entered in uppercase, with a space between the first and last parts, for example: W1T 1LN.

You can use your BFI membership number against one BFI Player account only. If your membership number expires, your discount will be removed automatically within 48 hours.

If you have a query about your membership details, you can email

How are films curated?

How to find content:

BFI expert curators group most of our films into unique collections, which highlight their significance, whether they’re cultural, award-winning, by a renowned director or they represent a landmark moment in film.

Some collections tie in with BFI events, and some themes are repeated across rentals, subscription and free.

You can also navigate by genre, popularity, and those recently added - and our new search tool allows you to fine tune results.

One of our most popular ways to select a subscription film is to look at Mark Kermode introductions - while many of our rentals show trailers.  

Most of our free films were shot in Britain and can be found via the Britain on Film map. Where the film is owned by a regional / or other non-BFI archive, its logo is usually displayed as well as a link to the archive.

You can also find out about new and topical films and collections by signing up to our email newsletters when you create an account, or via Account/Profile.

How we select content:

Our aim is to help users see something different - so we focus on British and European independent films, as well as offering international releases.  

In Rentals, we do offer the best of the latest releases, but we also prioritise films from our UK festivals, such as the BFI London Film Festival, and BFI Flare - which also represents our diverse audiences.      

In Subscription, we aim to present the best in classic arthouse cinema and contemporary classics, many representing landmark moments in film.

Our programming also adheres closely with the BFI’s wider cultural programme, complementing its seasonal programming of our UK venues, film distribution and DVD/Blu-ray publishing strands.

Our free archive films highlight the best of the BFI National Archive as well as UK national, regional and partner archives. These include features and shorts - by professional and amateur filmmakers - of British life as well as newsreels, adverts, films from cultural and academic institutions, and some international films.

The availability of all our films is dependent on rights agreements with licensors, and our paid-for films follow cinema and DVD/Blu-ray release schedules and prices.

As members of the British Board of Film Classification’s BBFC online service, we work to ensure films: are rated for use on Video on Demand; and have the same age rating as you will see at a UK cinema or on a DVD/Blu-ray release.   

Many free films are certified ‘not rated’, but you still need to accept guidance before watching. Some films have had no rating added by the original archive.

How do I contact BFI Player?

If you’re having immediate problems with paying for, or playing, films and need one-to-one technical support, please contact Livechat

If unavailable, you can email the team at

If you’ve spotted something on our service that needs fixing or improving, please email with details on:

  • The page url or newsletter link
  • What the issue is
  • How the issue occurred, if steps are needed to replicate it

While we consider all issues, we may not reply to your email.  


If you have a query about Britain on Film content, please follow the links below:

FAQs about BFI archive collections

Footage sales and bookings 

You can also contact the specific archive if it is listed on the individual film on the 'About the archive' tab.

Latest updates to BFI Player

Important information for mobile and tablet users: If you use BFI Player on your iPhone or iPad (iOS devices), you will need to update to the latest version of our app (2.7) via the Apple Appstore. 

Site relaunch:

We’ve just relaunched BFI Player, using our own teams to develop the website for the first time.

This will make it easier to improve the service, such as developing it for new platforms - but we’re still in the early stages and welcome feedback.

Current improvements include:

  • Splitting films into rentals, subscription and free sections more clearly, so choosing is easier.

  • Improved playback performance (including on Apple TVs casting via Airplay).

  • Adding advanced search, so you can choose between rental, subscription and free films, and then filter in much more detail.

  • Improving the speed and performance of the site generally.