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Comparing the best streaming services in the UK — and how to access them

Comparing the best streaming services in the UK — and how to access them

Streaming is now the norm for many people in the UK. In fact, Ofcom estimates almost four out of ten homes are signed up to at least one on-demand subscription service. But if you're looking to pick one of these up for the first time, how do you know which one is right for you?

Here's our a brief rundown of the top subscription streaming services available in the UK and some of the ways you can access them on the big screen.

Netflix

The pioneer of streaming TV, Netflix has come a long way from its roots sending DVD rentals by mail in the US. Prices start at £5.99 a month, or £7.99 a month for HD. As well as a huge range of content, it offers features such as profiles for different users, a dedicated Kids version, and a powerful recommendation algorithm so you'll always have something to watch.

Pick of the content: Netflix has one of the biggest libraries of exclusive TV and movie content. As well as original content such as Stranger Things, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and The Crown, it's also the first-run UK home for US shows like Star Trek: Discovery, sitcom The Good Place and teen drama Riverdale, so there's always new shows being added.

How to get it: As well as the usual browser, mobile app and smart TV options, if you're a Sky TV customer with a Sky Q box, you can easily add Netflix with the firm's Ultimate on Demand package. This gives you access to Netflix and Sky Boxsets for a combined price of £12 per month - that's a saving of £2.99 a month on buying them both separately. You can also find the app on BT TV, Virgin and TalkTalk set-top boxes.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video — Netflix's main competitor — is available either as a monthly subscription or for an annual fee when signing up to the wider Amazon Prime, which also comes with offers such as free next-day delivery on Amazon items, a large ebook library and music streaming. It also features add-ons like X-Ray, which offers instant access to useful information and trivia about the shows you're watching.

Pick of the content: Amazon's range of original content isn't as broad as Netflix's, but you can still watch great shows such as The Grand Tour, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and the forthcoming Good Omens. Its included selection of movies is probably better than Netflix's, though, and it also offers easy access to the latest premium content straight from the app.

How to get it: Unlike Netflix, you can't get Amazon Prime Video directly through a Sky Q box, but you will be able to access the app via Virgin Media and TalkTalk TV set-top boxes from this summer thanks to a recently-announced deal. Until then, selected smart TVs and games consoles are the way to go, and the service is also available on BT's set-top boxes.

Now TV

An offshoot of Sky, Now TV offers access to all of the broadcaster's premium content without the need to be tied in to a lengthy contract or have a satellite dish bolted to your home. It's a highly flexible service, offering a range of one-month passes for entertainment, movies and sports services, as well as longer three- and six-month deals that work out cheaper per month. You can even add one-day sports passes if there's a big event you really want to see.

Pick of the content: Now TV offers a mix of Sky's original programming, exclusive shows from HBO in the US, and a huge archive of box sets, including classic British sitcoms and dramas. You can watch the final season of Game of Thrones as it airs with the Entertainment Pass, while the Cinema Pass gives access to over 1,000 movies, as well as the latest premieres on the same day they appear on Sky, with new content as of April including Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and The Incredibles 2.

How to get it: Of the three big streaming services, Now TV probably has the fewest viewing options available in terms of compatible devices, but it is available for on-demand streaming on BT TV set-top boxes. You also can get a dedicated Now TV set-top box, or a smaller smart stick that can turn any TV into a Now TV hub.

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