Video streaming services: Which one should you go for?

by Rob Duke | Apr 16, 2020
picture of a pc screen with a video streaming service on it

We’ve reviewed each of the top paid video streaming services available in the UK so you can figure out which one’s the best fit for you.

Netflix (from £5.99 per month)

Pros:

We’re big fans of Netflix. They’ve got a huge range of films and shows, and they’re frequently refreshed, so you probably won't ever run out of new things to watch. Their original shows are great too, with Stranger Things being the jewel in the crown (for those who haven’t seen it yet; seriously, check it out. You’re in for a treat). 

They did increase the price last year, but not by much, so it still feels like a good deal. They’ve also been stepping up investment in their own production efforts recently, so you’re more likely to see high-budget original films (like The Irishman) popping up in the near future. In our opinion, Netflix is currently the best streaming platform overall for people who want a broad range of entertainment.

Cons:

They tend to buy-in the majority of their content from third parties, so as more production companies have launched their own streaming services and reclaimed their shows and movies, the number of options available to Netflix has reduced (Disney for example, recently unveiled Disney Plus, and took back all the key Marvel and Fox movies and shows).

This trend will only increase over time, so it’ll be interesting to see if Netflix can come up with more original content to fill the gaps. Currently though, it’s not that big of a deal unless you’re a truly devoted fan of Disney/Marvel/Fox content.  

Best for:

- Quality movie selection
- Excellent original shows
- Quirky but compelling documentaries
- Stand-up comedy

Standout content:

- Stranger Things
- Narcos 
- Fargo
- Top Boy
- Better Call Saul
- Mindhunter
- Breaking Bad
- The Irishman

Disney Plus (from £5.99 per month, or £59.99 per year)

Pros:

If you’ve got kids, or you’re really into Star Wars or Marvel, this could be the platform for you. Many of the movies and shows were available on other streaming platforms previously, but now you can’t get them anywhere else.

For die-hard fans of these key franchises, it’s great to have all of this content permanently available and together in one place, but for those who haven’t seen all of the shows and movies and want to find out what the fuss is all about, it’s even better.

Thanks to Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox, you’ll also get a bunch of content you previously couldn’t stream in the UK, including every season of The Simpsons and the X-Men films. Bonus!

Cons:

It’s a new platform, so once you’ve watched a few of their flagship shows, you might struggle to find things worth sticking with. Also, due to the coronavirus pandemic, production has temporarily ceased on a few of their most highly anticipated series’ (including Marvel’s ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’, ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Loki’), which means they probably won’t be on the platform until 2021. 

Even if you’re a fan of the Marvel franchise, you might be better off waiting until at least the end of the year before you buy a 12-month subscription.

As a small but niggly aside, because Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man, the films are missing from the MCU library, so unfortunately you can’t watch every Marvel movie consecutively on the platform. Not ideal. 

Best for:

- Classic Disney and Pixar animated films
- Superhero movies and shows

Standout content:

- 21 Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies
- All of the Star Wars Movies
- The Mandalorian
- The Simpsons 

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* Underwriter Assurant General Insurance Limited. Gadget age restrictions, T&Cs & excesses apply. Customer UK 18+.

Amazon Prime Video (From £5.99 a month or part of Amazon Prime subscription)

Pros: 

Amazon has an impressive range of shows and movies, and in the latter case, they tend to get them earlier than some competitors. They also offer a few classic series’ that are well worth a look.

While you can pay a reasonable monthly fee for the service, if you sign up for an overarching Amazon Prime account, you get Prime Video for free as part of the overall package. Considering you also get unlimited one-day Amazon deliveries, Prime Music, and Prime Reading – it’s an impressive offering for £7.99 a month (and if you’re a regular Amazon shopper, you’ll probably save that amount on deliveries alone).

Cons:

The unique content on the channel isn’t quite up to the standard offered on Netflix (although they are showing signs of positive intent with exciting new shows like Star Trek: Picard starring Patrick Stewart).

Also, while they do tend to get films sooner after cinema release than Netflix, they typically offer less impressive titles. In April 2020, Angel Has Fallen and Hustlers are their headline movies, and they weren’t exactly Box Office smashes (in comparison, Netflix is currently pushing I, Tonya and Uncut Gems, both of which were critically acclaimed).

We’d say that overall, you tend to get better films and shows on Netflix, so if we had to pick one (and we weren’t bothered about the added benefits of an Amazon Prime account) we wouldn’t go for Prime Video. 

Best for:

- Value (as part of the overall Amazon Prime offering)
- Edgy American dramas

Standout content:

- The Walking Dead
- Mr. Robot
- Friday Night Lights
- The Grand Tour
- Star Trek: Picard
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Jack Ryan

Now TV (£8.99 per month for channels and boxsets + £11.99 for Sky Cinema)

Pros: 

Now TV arguably has the most impressive selection of flagship shows available. Here you can watch almost all of the Sky Atlantic/HBO classics your friends have been waxing lyrical about. The likes of Game of Thrones and True Detective are uniquely brilliant (save the odd dodgy season), and those alone are arguably worth the extra money for newcomers. They’ve got an incredible back catalogue, with seminal shows from the 90s and 2000s like The Sopranos and The Wire.

On top of that, Sky Cinema is a genuine premium service which enables you to get many of the latest box-office films sooner than on any other platform. 

Cons: 

You really do end up paying a lot for the content. The combined cost for their standard movie and TV packages is around £21, which is over three times the price of the aforementioned platforms.

If you saw most of these iconic shows the first time around and you’re not interested in watching them again, you might find yourself paying through the nose for limited options. In that case, we’d suggest waiting until a new flagship series is released before subscribing. 

Best for:

- Some of the greatest TV shows of all time
- All the latest movies

Standout content:

- Game of Thrones
- The Wire
- True Detective
- Band of Brothers
- Chernobyl
- The Sopranos
- Deadwood
- Watchmen

Honourable mentions:

We’ve focused on services that offer a wide range of international movies and TV shows, but if you’re looking for a huge back-catalogue of British dramas and comedies, Britbox (a collaboration between BBC, ITV and Channel 4) might appeal to you. However, we do feel that because their free domestic streaming services have offered so much of the content in the past, it feels a bit jarring having to pay for it now.

Also, if you’re into arthouse-style films, you might find MUBI interesting. They offer a carefully selected range of critically acclaimed movies on the platform, with a new one released every day – and there are some absolute gems on there.

With Apple TV Plus, there’s a very limited selection of shows available at the moment, so we can’t really recommend it – but we expect them to up their game in the coming months, so it's one to watch for the future. 

You might also like:

- Gadget insurance with Protect Your Bubble: get your devices covered now*.

- Huawei P40: Find out if this is the best phone of 2020 so far. 

- iPhone 11 - Worth an upgrade?: See whether Apple’s new flagship cuts the mustard.


* Underwriter Assurant General Insurance Limited. Gadget age restrictions, T&Cs & excesses apply. Customer UK 18+.
 

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