Like it or not, streaming looks set to be the future of entertainment. In the past few years, the numbers of people who subscribe to streaming services has grown substantially, especially amongst the under 30s, and that trend looks to only be growing, especially as more people have been consuming TV/ movies this way during the pandemic. There are hundreds of different services available, with varying price points and content, but for the purpose of this article we’ll be looking at the big 4 (across international territories, particularly in the UK) – Netflix, NOW, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. All have pros and cons, and all have their place in the industry, so if you are trying to decide which streaming service is best for you, then keep reading!
Netflix is THE streaming service. If you were to ask a random person to name one off of the top of their head, the vast majority would say Netflix. It was the first to really cement its position, and to take advantage of the changing ways in which people consumed media. It started out as a DVD postal service, and then evolved to match the digital market. Netflix are in it for the long haul, and their combination of marketing, high quality original content, and vast back catalogue of shows and movies makes them a force to be reckoned with. If your taste in entertainment is wide and varied, and you’re never sure what you’ll be in the mood for, you can’t go wrong with Netflix. There’s something for everyone, and you could spend hours just browsing.
Of course, that’s not necessarily a good thing, and being spoiled for choice can mean you stall on actually making a decision. Many a time I’ve found myself getting so excited at the prospect of all the amazing shows available to me, that I neglect to make the choice and actually watch one of them. However, the multiple home page categories help you to narrow down the titles, and you may be exposed to a new favourite that you never would have otherwise found. Netflix has a great selection of both shows and movies, and is constantly growing its catalogue. Overall, it’s a solid choice, and I’d recommend it to pretty much everyone.
– Wide selection of shows and movies
– Plenty of original content
– Intuitive user interface
– Good value for money
– Doesn’t tend to have many recent movies
– It doesn’t have the rights to a lot of larger properties
Unlike the other streaming services on this list, NOW doesn’t just have one subscription. You have to choose between Entertainment, Movies, or Sports (which won’t be discussed in this article). They previously had a Kids membership, but that’s now included as part of the entertainment subscription. For this reason, NOW is automatically the worst value for money, as you’d have to pay twice if you wanted to enjoy both shows and movies. However, you do also get access to a selection of live Sky channels, which is a bonus element that most other services don’t offer. Previously you could stream on up to 2 devices at a time, but they changed that on 15th July 2021 so that now it’s only one as standard, but you can pay an extra £5 a month for Boost to increase that to 3 devices at a time.
I’ve always found NOW Entertainment to be severely lacking. They rarely have any shows that are particularly renowned or exciting. The majority of content is stuff I’d never heard of before. Some of the shows are decent, particularly the Sky originals, but the overall quality isn’t really comparable to the other streaming services on this list. Movies is where NOW really shines, though. They tend to have relatively recent movies, and a huge selection of blockbusters. Rights don’t seem to be an issue, as they feature many large and well-known franchises, and their catalogue is regularly cycling to bring in new movies. NOW isn’t the best option for those on a budget, but if you only care for movies, or you don’t mind paying for a separate subscription for shows, then this could be the one for you.
– Excellent movie selection
– Access to live Sky channels
– Access to Sky original shows
– Not great value for money
– The Entertainment subscription has poor variety
– Plays ads unless you pay extra for Boost
There are exactly two reasons to get Amazon Prime. Number one – you do a lot of online shopping and want free next day delivery. Number two – you want to support your favourite Twitch creator, so you may as well get use the free Twitch subscription you get by having a Prime account. Nobody actually buys Prime for the streaming side, and if you do, you’re a schmuck. Whilst Amazon Prime as a collective deal is decent value for money, it’s poor value if you’re exclusively using it for streaming. The only reason I’d recommend Prime to anyone is for the multiple benefits.
The problem with the streaming side of Prime, is that the library is incredibly limited. Prime contains a huge catalogue of titles, but hardly any of them are available with the subscription. When you’re looking for a new show/ movie to watch, you might find something you really like the sound of. But when you go to play it, you’re asked to pay £2.49 per episode! There’s not really any easy way to separate the shows/ movies so that you can just browse the ones that are included with the subscription. This is really frustrating because at times it makes you wonder what you’re paying for.
They’ll also have a series available with the subscription, and then make it paid content without warning. Other times, the first season of a show will be included, and then you have to pay for future seasons. That feels really sneaky to me, like they’re trying to hook you on a series so you feel compelled to buy it. You don’t even get a discount on paid episodes by having a Prime account. All in all, it’s definitely one of the weaker streaming services.
– Comes with free next day delivery on Amazon products
– You get a free Twitch subscription every month
– If you’re a student you get it half price, for only £3.99 a month
– A lot of titles in the library aren’t included with the subscription
– Not a great selection of shows or movies
– Plays ads at the start of each episode/ movie, although they are skippable
– Each season is listed separately, so you have to manually search the show again
Honestly, the very fact that Disney can have an entire streaming service dedicated to their content is impressive. Not many corporations have enough of a varied back catalogue to be able to do this. And whilst they do have Star which contains non-Disney shows and movies, their site is primarily made up of Disney content. And considering that Disney own Marvel, Fox, and Lucasfilm on top of their own movies, that’s a wide range.
The strongest thing going for Disney+ is that they have content for pretty much any demographic you can think of. There are cartoons, action movies, rom-coms, sci-fi shows… The list goes on. And they’re constantly adding to it, too. Their original shows include The Mandalorian, Wandavision, Loki, and many more. Their Marvel catalogue is growing massively, and if you’re an MCU fan, you don’t want to miss out on their canon shows.
The only real limitation of Disney+ is that whilst they have some amazing titles, they’re very specific. You won’t see much outside of their own content. This may mean that if you fancy a new show to watch in a particular genre, you’ll be quite limited in what’s available. Disney+ is great for movies, and like I said it has some great shows, but not as many as something like Netflix. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and if you’re not picky, then you won’t have a problem. But honestly, I think Disney+ works better as a secondary subscription to something with a wider catalogue like Netflix. It can work by itself, but you might struggle to find a show/ movie that fits your current mood. Still, it’s great value for money, and I’d certainly recommend it.
– Lots of big titles due to Disney owning multiple properties
– Appeals to a wide range of demographics
– High quality original shows and movies
– Doesn’t contain many titles not owned by Disney
– Not as wide a library as other streaming services
– The user interface could be better
So, what did you think? Do you agree with my assessments of each site? Which one is your favourite? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community!