For many of us, streaming is how we watch TV these days, and the growing number of platforms means that there’s more choice than ever. But while you’re not limited to just one, having multiple subscriptions running each month can quickly add up. So which streaming services or services should you be subscribing to?
Here, we compare the amount of content available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, NOW TV, Britbox, Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus to help you choose which streaming service is right for you.
How much does each streaming service cost?
Let’s get this out of the way first, as each streaming platform has a slightly different price. Britbox is one of the cheapest streaming services at just £5.99 a month, often with introductory offers available such as 30-day free trials or half price discount codes.
Netflix costs £5.99 a month for its Basic Package but has recently increased its Standard Package to £9.99 a month and £13.99 a month for its Premium offering. Each subscription package will have different allowances in terms of the number of screens you can watch on at the same time and the ability to stream in HD and Ultra HD.
Disney Plus is currently also £5.99 a month, and offers an annual subscription for £59.99 which saves you a little. However, this is set to change in February 2021 as the introduction of a lot of new content will result in a price increase to £7.99 a month or £79.90 for new subscribers.
Amazon Prime membership costs £7.99 a month and comes with all of the Amazon Prime perks, including free next day delivery and access to Amazon Prime Video. Alternatively, you can get it for £6.58 if you pay for the year upfront or £3.25 if you're a student. However, you can get access to just Prime Video for £5.99, but to be honest the real value of Amazon comes from a full Prime membership so it's definitely worth taking advantage of the 30-day trial.
Apple TV Plus is priced at £4.99, but comes with a free 1-year subscription when you purchase any new Apple product including MacBooks, iPads and iPhones.
Finally, NOW TV has several different price points: an Entertainment pass costs £8.99, a Sky movies pass costs £11.99, and a Sports pass costs £33.99.
While there’s no clear winner in terms of price, NOW TV is a little bit more expensive than the others, especially if you want access to live sports channels.
Streaming service free trial
There may be a particular show or film you’re looking forward to watching, but how much use would you have for each of these streaming services? Luckily, each platform offers a free trial when you sign up so that you can give it a proper test.
Netflix, Amazon Prime and Britbox offer a 30-day free trial before you start paying, while Disney+, NOW TV and Apple TV+ all offer just 7-days.
Which streaming service has the best content?
So we know what each service costs, but what are you getting for your money? Each platform has a different mix of new and original content versus back catalog of TV shows and movies for subscribers to access.
Though Netflix started as a DVD rental site, its biggest selling point these days is the amount of original content it produces alongside the staggering back catalogue of titles available on-demand.
To date, Netflix currently has over 5,000 titles, including everything from TV shows, children’s content, films and documentaries. Of those 5,000, over 700 are original productions streamed exclusively on Netflix.
In addition to great shows like Stranger Things, The Crown, Orange is the New Black and Ozark, Netflix’s original films have even gone on to be nominated –– and in some cases win –– Academy Awards such as Roma, Marriage Story and The Irishman.
With so much new and classic content you’ll never run out of things to binge.
Amazon Prime Video
Netflix undoubtedly has a huge amount of content, but Amazon Prime has the edge in terms of numbers. And while new content is being introduced all the time, Amazon is said to have roughly 20,000 titles available for streaming; roughly four times the amount available on Netflix.
Amazon Prime also has its own slew of original TV shows and films, as well as the option of signing up to Amazon Prime Channels where you can access things like ITV Hub, and BFI film player.
And if you come across a film or TV show that isn’t available to stream, Amazon Prime also has the option to buy or rent content for an additional charge, so the possibilities are seemingly endless.
In terms of numbers, NOW TV has fewer titles available to stream, sitting at roughly 3,000 films, TV shows and children's titles. What sets NOW TV apart is your access to brand new international shows.
Since NOW TV is the streaming service for Sky TV, the UK’s largest pay-TV provider, it gives you access to brand new content unavailable anywhere else on the internet.
Most notably, NOW TV is the only platform where you can stream HBO shows in the UK. The same is true for films post-cinema release, as Sky Movies will still be the first place to see new releases after they’ve left the cinema.
And while Amazon Prime has started streaming some live sports events, NOW TV is the hands-down winner for those wanting access to sports channels.
Apple TV+ has by far the least amount of content on its streaming platform. Introduced in November 2019, Apple TV+ claimed its focus would be on quality over quantity, recruiting some of the biggest names in Hollywood to appear in and create their lineup of shows.
Names like Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Momoa, and M. Night Shyamalan to name a few.
The current slate of Apple TV+ shows stands at just 25, which is obviously significantly smaller than Netflix and Amazon, but Apple has proven successful in drawing users into subscription services in the past, perhaps the success of Apple Music will be replicated with Apple TV+.
Launching just a few days after Apple TV+ in the US, and only in March in the UK, Disney+ looks to be serious competition to the already established streaming platforms.
Disney’s biggest advantage is the sheer volume of content it already possesses, so when it launched there were already roughly 7,000 TV episodes and 500 films. This included original TV shows and films from Disney Channel and Freeform, as well as select titles from 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios.
Disney has also invested heavily in creating exclusive content for the streaming platform, with a number of films and TV shows to be released in the coming months. The coronavirus pandemic has, unfortunately, meant that the majority of those projects have been delayed, with many pushed back to 2021.
As the name suggests, Britbox is the streaming home of British boxsets. So while its range is limited to those shows produced in the UK and broadcast on BBC and ITV, they can still claim to have the biggest collection of their niche.
According to Ampere Analysis, Britbox has the biggest collection of British boxsets than any other streaming service (independently verified on 31st January 2020).
- BritBox (289)
- Prime Video (256)
- NOW TV (219)
- Netflix (162)
Who has the most content?
In this case, there’s no clear winner. If you want to watch the latest episodes of international shows, then NOW TV is for you. But Netflix’s library of top-quality original content is hard for any TV-lover to miss. And the sheer volume of titles available on Prime makes it a good option too.
Which streaming service is easiest to use?
So many people have cursed Netflix for losing hours of their lives to mindlessly scrolling through the homepage trying to figure out what to watch. But is Netflix really lacking? Are any other streaming services easier to use?
At the top of the screen, Netflix features a full-width banner which spotlights one of its newest releases. This is almost exclusively a Netflix Original –– either a TV show, movie or mini-series –– and will often autoplay a trailer so that you get a quick idea if you want to watch it or not.
Netflix has a number of different categories that makes it easier to browse, such as blockbuster films, documentaries and British comedies. This makes it easier for you to quickly dip into the content that you’re in the mood for that day.
Netflix is also currently the only streaming platform that has a dedicated ‘Trending Now’ section, which is a great way to get inspiration for what to watch based on what the rest of the UK is streaming right now. It’s especially great for being in-the-loop with the latest online TV chatter.
Recommendations — “Because you watched…”
Like most platforms, Netflix has a method of delivering recommendations, with lists of TV shows and movies based on what you recently watched.
Most platforms have a watchlist option where you can queue up the content you think you might want to watch later. For Netflix this seems very much an afterthought, and while I’ve added plenty of things to ‘My List’ over the years, I’m hardly ever prompted to actually watch them as the list sits four or five rows down on the homescreen.
The amount of new and exclusive content on NOW TV makes it a serious competitor to Netflix, but is it easy to navigate and find all those great TV shows and movies?
New and Trending
Upon logging in to NOW TV, your first section is dedicated to New and Trending content. This is possibly where the diversity of NOW TV’s content actually works against them as it often recommends content you would never consider.
I’m initially greeted with an ad for Dora the Explorer’s live-action movie and an animated version of Streetcat Bob. This is obviously based on what the kids are binging during lockdown, but has nothing to do with my viewing habits.
While Netflix successfully sections off its children’s content, with NOW TV you’ll have to scroll past it in search of shows you actually want to watch.
Unlike Netflix, NOW TV’s watchlist is prominently featured right under the ‘Continue Watching’ section. Once you’ve scrolled through and added shows to your watchlist, you’ll see them promptly whenever you log on, giving you a good starting point when searching for an episode of something to watch.
The second section is labelled Previews, and it is just that; a list of 40-second previews highlighting films, TV shows or collections you can watch on the platform.
The home page is finally divided into sections based on the TV passes you can purchase. They’re arranged in the order of Sky Cinema, Entertain, Kids, Hayu and Sports.
This can also be frustrating if you’re not subscribed to the Sky Cinema pass, since you have to constantly scroll past all the movie recommendations to get to content you can actually watch.
If you were like me, you were full of excitement when you first logged on to Disney Plus, only to be quickly overwhelmed by the amount of choice and no real direction of what to watch.
The top banner on Disney Plus rolls to show recommendations of shows and movies you might want to watch. However, since at the moment the vast majority of its content is back catalogue, there’s little new content to feature on here apart from some behind-the-scenes shows and documentaries.
The biggest division on Disney Plus comes from the five studios that exist under the Disney umbrella, and so content can be split out into traditional Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Star Wars and National Geographic, the largest bank of which is of course classic Disney.
Disney is separated into: Originals, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Additional animated movies, Live Action, Disney Channel Series, ‘90s Throwbacks, Disney Channel Original Movies, Mickey Mouse Through the Years, Princesses and Fairy Tales, Disney Junior Series, Disneynature, and finally Vintage Disney.
Disney movies, Marvel movies and the Star Wars episodes make up some of the most popular, most binge-worthy film franchises in history. You’d think that Disney+ would know that you intend to watch the next in the series, but unfortunately its ‘Watch Next’ option isn’t as intuitive as I’d like it to be.
For instance, after watching Thor: The Dark World, Disney Plus offers up these films to watch next, when the next installment in the MCU is actually Captain America: Winter Soldier.
These are great playlists compiled of some of Disney’s most popular films and TV episodes, including the Toy Story Collection, The Frozen Collection and Disney Through the Decades.
Again, for some reason Disney Plus doesn’t prominently feature your watchlist on the homepage, instead forcing you to navigate to it through the top or side menu. This makes it a slow process when selecting to watch the next installment of your favourite show or rewatch the next Disney Classic that you saved for later.
With so much content available to stream on Amazon Prime, finding your way around can be a bit confusing.
Not surprisingly, Amazon serves up its original content first just like Netflix. Although, unlike Netflix, it’s displayed in a simple horizontal list to scroll through, rather than featuring a particular series of film in its spotlight.
Amazon Prime does feature a banner at the top spotlighting a selection of content, the problem being there’s little-to-no connection between the content it serves. It’s not based on your viewing habits, it's not exclusive to Amazon Originals and there can be as many as 14 recommendations to scroll through. This doesn’t exactly fine-tune your selection.
Prime’s ‘Movies we think you’ll like’ are a bit of a mystery to me. I was served every single Jurassic Park movie alongside Chicken Run and Playmobil the Movie. This could do with some fine-tuning to offer content that’s more similar to what I’ve previously watched.
Netflix is the easiest streaming platform to use
While I enjoy all of these platforms, Netflix is by far the easiest to use. It has a more intutive design, recommendations and streamlined setup that makes it easier and quicker to find the next show you want to binge.