Are Free Live TV Streaming Sites Safe? How to Enjoy Live Streams Free Minus the Malware

Streaming sites like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu are more popular — and more expensive — than ever. It’s no surprise that people are turning to free live TV streaming sites to save money. Unfortunately, free sites are often loaded with malware and adware. It can be a challenge to find legitimate free streaming sites that actually work and are actually safe.

I’ve done the research to find out how you can stay safe when watching free live TV streams. I’ve also compiled a list of the top 12 free live TV streaming sites for safely streaming sports, news, and shows.

Are Free TV Streaming Sites Safe?

Free streaming sites aren’t always secure. A 2016 KU Leuven-iMinds and Stony Brook University study revealed as many as 50% of the overlay ads on these sites contain malware.

The researchers analyzed 23,000 such websites and their incoming video stream traffic. The results were shocking. Most websites used secret malicious codes to attempt to plant malware on your system. While you watch the streams, the code scans your device for sensitive data. Other malware redirects you to spammy sites, or tricks you into revealing your account login passwords for other services.

Pop-ups appearing on free streaming sites are malicious and misleading
Many free streaming sites display malicious pop-ups and ads

Some malicious domains take a different approach and install crypto mining software on your system. These tools use your computing resources to make money for a remote party, so you end up paying for your content with your CPU power and resources.

To keep yourself safe, alway use official, authorized free live TV streaming sites or go for a paid version within your budget. Legitimate free TV streaming sites are often subsidized by a government, offered as an ad-supported service, or presented as the freemium model to a subscription-based service. Many subscription services also have free trials. 

These kinds of TV streaming sites are legal and safe to use, so you don’t have to compromise your security for entertainment.

How to Stay Safe When Watching Free Live TV Streams

Follow these simple tips to stay safe when you watch your favorite live TV streams online:

  • Visit trusted, official free live TV sites: Many so-called free streaming sites only capture and rebroadcast official streams, embedding them with malware in the process.
  • Use CyberGhost VPN: CyberGhost VPN secures your network traffic end-to-end with 256-bit AES encryption. This will prevent snoopers, including your ISP, government, and cybercriminals, from analyzing your online traffic. 
  • Stream on your smartphone: If you must stream from a site that appears shady, use your smartphone instead of a laptop. Smartphones have a lower attack surface and are more resilient against malware attacks, though you’ll still see spam-laden ads and redirects.
  • Avoid clicks: If you’re on a free streaming site that appears suspicious (and won’t consider leaving), at least avoid clicking on any ads — even the “close” button on a pop-up.
  • Keep your devices up-to-date: Download and install software updates on all your devices, including your laptops, desktops, and smartphones. OS updates often patch known vulnerabilities malware can exploit. If you can, set your device to automatically download updates when they become available. This should be the default setting for most operating systems.
  • Use antivirus software: You should always have antivirus software installed on your system to scan and remove malware. Make sure the antivirus maintains an up-to-date malware database so if a site hosts malware, it will hopefully keep you safe.
  • Upgrade to HTTPS: Most browsers, including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, allow you to use HTTPS by default and upgrade all connections. Activate this option to use HTTPS over HTTP to help secure your network connection when you visit a suspicious site. If a free live TV streaming site doesn’t use HTTPS, avoid using it at all
  • Switch NoScript on: Activate the NoScript extension on your browser to ban scripts from taking over your browser and device. This protects against malicious scripts on streaming sites. Privacy-focused browsers usually have a script-blocking feature. This blocks Javascript which may break some websites so turn it off again when you need to.

The Top 12 Safe Live TV Streaming Sites

I’ve handpicked 12 secure free live TV streaming sites for you to watch your favorite sports programs, news channels, or get your daily dose of entertainment. Some sites might ask you to sign up for an account, but this is a quick process. Once you sign up with your email address, you can easily access free live TV without any charges.

1. BBC iPlayer   

BBC iPlayer webpage
BBC iPlayer is the best free live TV streaming site in the UK

BBC iPlayer is a popular on-demand service that includes live, zero-ad streaming for UK-based viewers. You can find live sports coverage, award-winning documentaries, live TV channels, movies, and shows. You just have to sign up for an account with your email to access iPlayer content. 

The streaming platform features live TV channels like BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC Scotland, and BBC Parliament. BBC iPlayer has apps available for a wide range of devices including desktop and mobile devices, Smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

2. Tubi

Tubi webpage
FOX Corporation’s Tubi offers 100% free live TV, movies, and shows

With 60+ million active users, Tubi is a popular US-based streaming platform with a large free library. It’s more widely known for its on-demand content, but Tubi has plenty of free live channels. From global news like CBC and Euronews to sports events like the FIFA World Cup to entertainment channels like TMZ, you’re bound to find something to keep you entertained. 

Since Fox Corporation acquired Tubi in 2020, the platform also offers programming from Fox Entertainment, Fox Soul, and local news stations. In total, you get to pick from 55+ live channels, and it’s all 100% legal and free. Tubi runs ads to monetize content but claims it offers fewer ads than conventional TV.

3. Plex 

Plex website
Stream ad-supported live content free worldwide with Plex

Plex is an American streaming service offering ad-supported content. Plex features content from famous production companies including Warner Bros., Endemol Shine, and MGM. The service also has hundreds of live TV channels, and they’re all free to watch.

From USA Today to MBC to FTF Sports, Plex offers plenty of options to keep up with news and sports. Plex also offers gaming channels like IGN, Spanish-language channels like Pitufo TV, and even channels dedicated to Bollywood fans with Shemaroo Bollywood. You don’t need an account to stream live TV channels on Plex. It’s available for a wide range of Smart TVs and digital media players like Roku.

4. Rakuten TV

Rakuten TV website
Rakuten TV streams live events, movies, and TV shows in Europe, the UK, and other regions

Rakuten is an e-commerce giant that offers free movies, shows, and live content through its TV service. Rakuten TV is available in Japan, Ukraine, Spain, France, the UK, and other European countries. 

The Rakuten TV platform features content from international and local distribution studios including Disney, Warner Bros., and Sony Pictures. Live TV channels range from news like Euronews Live to the stylish world of Fashion TV to business insights from Bloomberg Television to good music with Clubbing TV

You can watch live TV channels from the Rakuten TV Smart TV app with no account. Creating an account lets you customize your recommendations, receive exclusive discounts, and receive newsletters about new releases. Free content is ad-supported. You can easily find the free live TV channels by selecting the Free tab on the streaming platform. 

5. Pluto TV

Pluto TV website
Pluto TV is an ad-supported, free live TV streaming site

Pluto TV is a free live TV streaming site featuring an extensive content library. The website showcases live TV channels themed on live sports, news, comedy, crime, entertainment, gaming, food, and movies.

The platform is ad-supported and like conventional TV, displays ad breaks in between programming to earn revenue. It’s available in Europe, the UK, Canada, and Australia. You don’t need to sign up for an account to watch live TV. Most of Pluto TV’s so-called live channels are actually loops of content selected from its library. However, the news and sports channels do broadcast live.

6. RTÉ Player

RTÉ Player webpage
Head to RTÉ Player for free live TV streams and shows

Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) is an Irish broadcaster offering news, sports, and entertainment. You can use RTÉ Player to stream live and on-demand shows and news. This includes Euronews, Prime News, One News, Six One News, and others. 

Sports fans won’t be disappointed either. Popular events like FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League are broadcasted on RTÉ 2. RTÉ also has a long tradition of broadcasting Gaelic games.

The service includes content from broadcasters like CBS, Warner Bros., and ABC Australia. Click on the Live tab on their website to watch all live offerings worldwide. You don’t even need to sign up for an account to watch live TV.

7. Zattoo

Zattoo website
Zattoo streams live events, movies, and is highly popular in Europe

Zattoo is a live TV streaming service based in Zurich. It was the first provider to broadcast the opening match of the World Cup live and completely free. Besides live TV channels, the platforms boast plenty of VOD content too. 

You can stream from a wide catalog of German and international live TV channels, including ZDF, Welt, ARTE, Comedy Central, and many more. To sign up for a free Zattoo account, you’ll need to enter your email address, your password, your date of birth, and gender. 

Free accounts provide access to 190+ TV channels. You won’t be able to skip any ads or stream on Smart TVs with a free account. You also get access to around 80 VOD channels, a few of which are HD. Zattoo is accessible in Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, and Austria. The channel libraries differ from one region to another. 

8. CTV

CTV web player
CTV is a free Canadian live streaming site

CTV is a Canadian TV service known for its sports live streams. The CTV library offers free movies, shows, and live streams, and many of its channels focus on US content. The CTV Television Network also operates a dedicated news service called CTV News.

Channels like CTV, CTV 2, CTV Comedy Channel, CTV Sci-fi Channel, CTV Drama Channel, and CTV Live Channel are all available on the platform. You can also find content from other popular channels like MTV, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and Sci. Most of the free channels are ad-supported.

For the most part, you need an account to stream for free on CTV. You can register through your TV provider or with an email address. You can also watch CTV Movies and CTV Throwback for free without an account for a limited time. That said, if you want to access some of the more popular channels or content on CTV, you’ll need to sign in with your cable subscription.

9. RaiPlay

RaiPlay webpage
Stream classic Italian shows and live channels on RaiPlay

Italian broadcaster RAI’s over-the-top (OTT) platform RaiPlay has been streaming sports, news, documentaries, series, and movies since 2016. RaiPlay is also known for its special kids-centric program offerings. 

You can access 14 live TV channels to satisfy your needs for entertainment, news, shows, and reality TV. Featuring Rai Sport, Rai Storia, Rai News 24, Rai Voyo, and many others, you have plenty of options to choose from. You don’t need to sign up for an account to watch live TV. RaiPlay is also available on Smart TVs and phones. Just expect to find most content in Italian.

10. Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF)

ORF webpage
Follow ORF for the best free German language content

Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF) is the Austrian broadcasting corporation and has been the country’s major broadcasting service since the mid-20th century. The service now operates an OTT content platform that streams live events, sports programs, weather, news, documentaries, kids shows, and many more. Like the TV version, the digital streaming platform features ORF 1, ORF 2, ORF III, and ORF Sport+

You can catch up on popular shows like Grey’s Anatomy and The Big Bag Theory, watch Formula One and FIFA World Cup events, and keep an eye on the latest news. You don’t even need to sign up to stream ORF. The only downside is that its live TV streams are almost exclusively in German.

11. RTVE Play

RTVE Play website
RTVE Play is your go-to live TV destination if you’re in Spain

Spanish broadcaster RTVE’s streaming service RTVE Play live streams popular events and sports. Previously known as A la carta, it features an enormous content library with blockbuster movies and shows. 

Featuring live TV channels La 1, La 2, Teledeporte, 24 Horas, and Clan, you have plenty of channels to catch up on news and popular shows like Masterchef. Sports events are also available. The live TV channels are predominantly in Spanish, but the platform has some content from RTVE Cataluña as well. 

You don’t need an account to access RTVE content but creating one lets you personalize your experience on the platform. You only need to enter your name, age, a postal code from Spain, and email address to create an account.

12. TF1

TF1 web player
A pioneer in the live TV field, TF1 streams French programs for free

This French TV network is one of the most popular in the country, so it’s no wonder it launched as a streaming service as well. TF1 streams live sports, movies, shows, and original French programming along with live news and weather updates.

You can keep up with Le Journal, watch the best performances from Mask Singer or Danse avec les stars, watch the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup events, or let the little ones relax with classics like The Smurfs. You can also access a wide range of on-demand movies and shows. 

To access TF1 live TV content, you’ll need an account. For that, you’ll need an email address, a French postal code, your first name, your gender, and your date of birth. Just keep in mind everything on the platform is in French.

Safely Stream Live TV When Abroad 

Live streaming is a fast-growing trend, but because of local licensing rights, some platforms are not available worldwide. BBC iPlayer for example is only available in the UK, while Tubi is restricted to US territories, and you won’t be able to watch TF1 outside France. 

If you travel abroad, you won’t be able to keep watching the live TV channels you know and love. Even if you travel domestically, you might not always have luck catching up to the latest shows. A lot of hotels, airports, restaurants, and others, have restrictions enabled on their Wi-Fi networks. This means system administrators block access to streaming websites to prevent network congestion, as these sites use a lot of data.

You can use CyberGhost VPN to regain access to your favorite content no matter where life takes you. You just need to connect to one of our VPN servers in 91 countries to get an IP address from back home. This will let you watch live TV channels as if you were in the comfort of your own living room. 

We also have streaming-optimized servers for a variety of live TV streaming sites. These servers ensure you get optimal performance with fast speeds, so you can enjoy your favorite shows without buffering. We have VPN apps for multiple operating systems so you can stream on your smartphone, laptop, and Smart TV. One subscription gives you access to 7 simultaneous connections

Try CyberGhost VPN risk-free with our 45-day money-back guarantee


What are the best live TV streaming sites?

Tubi, Plex, Pluto TV, BBC iPlayer, and RTÉ Player are among the best live TV streaming sites. You can stream sports events, live news, movies, and TV series for free. Many sites will display ad breaks to generate revenue and meet media licensing costs.

Most live TV streaming sites aren’t available worldwide though. If you travel abroad, use CyberGhost VPN to safely stream live TV from back home. You’ll enjoy unlimited bandwidth and access to reliable fast VPN servers for interruption-free watching. 

Do free streaming sites have malware?

A lot of free streaming sites have malware. Recent studies show free streaming sites use malicious ads and scripts to inject malware into your system. Some free live TV platforms also use your browser to mine cryptocurrencies. Luckily, you can find live TV streaming sites that are 100% safe and legal. Sites like BBC iPlayer and Tubi are some of the most popular choices. 

Does a VPN help you watch live TV?

A VPN encrypts your connection, helping you watch live TV if you’re somewhere with a restrictive Wi-Fi network. If you’re traveling overseas, some live TV sites might stop working or you might notice changes in the way their content library appears. This is because streaming platforms use your IP address to detect your location and determine what content you can see based on copyright restrictions. 

Use CyberGhost VPN to get an IP address from your home country and regain access to your favorite live TV sites on the move. 

What is the best free streaming site overall?

It’s hard to say what the best free streaming site is, as it depends on your tastes and interests. Check out our curated list of the 12 best live TV streaming sites, and see what catches your eye. They’re all safe and legal choices, free of hidden malware.

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