Which Is The Best Service For On-Demand Streaming?
On-demand is the future of television. Everyone from Tesco to Sky have jumped on the trend making a serious commitment to streaming films and television. It’s hardly a surprise either. Unlike satellite or terrestrial television, on-demand services let you watch what you want, when you want it and where you want it. They offer a wealth of content to view across a great many devices.
However, because so many providers are jumping on the bandwagon and offering on-demand services, it’s now difficult to know which to choose from. Some come at a lower cost, but don’t have quite as much content. Some are slightly more expensive, but have exclusive offers you can’t find elsewhere.
We have taken a look at the five major services — Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant, iTunes, Blinkbox and Now TV — and broken down what each offers. We have looked at price, content, availability and quality to give you a thorough guide. Hopefully, this means that when the time comes to choose an on-demand service, you will know exactly what you’re getting — and for how much.
What Is The Price Of Each On-Demand Service?
For £5.99 per month, you get access to the entire Netflix library on 2 devices. £8.99 will give you access to the entire library on an extra two devices, so all the family can be using it. £5.99 per month is also the price for access to the entire Amazon Prime Instant library, but you get unlimited device access with this service. You can even pay an extra £7 per year to get Amazon Prime for e-book lending and next day deliveries.
Now TV is the most expensive of the on-demand services. It’s £8.99 per month for the movies package that gives you the latest home releases and £4.99 for the TV entertainment package that includes Sky Atlantic, Sky One and Fox. If you want the sports pass to view all the Sky Sports channels, it costs a staggering £9.99 per day for 24 hour access. You can register four devices and use two at any one time
Blinkbox and iTunes have a different method of pricing – pay as you go. On their services, rentals are approximately £3.49 (SD) or £4.49 (HD) per movie with a 30 day viewing limit, dropping to 24 hours once you starting playing it. You can buy a movie for an average £9.99 (SD) and £13.99 (HD) and keep it on your library forever too.
|Netflix||Amazon Prime Instant||Now TV||iTunes||Blinkbox|
|£5.99 – Full subscription and use on 2 devices.£8.99 – Full subscription and use on 4 devices.||£5.99 – Full subscription to instant library and LoveFilm postal service.£7 extra per year – Amazon Prime for e-book rentals and next day delivery.£3.49/£4.49 to rent films not in instant library in SD or HD. £9.99/£13.99 to purchase.||£8.99 – Monthly movies package.£4.99 – Monthly TV entertainment package.£9.99 – Daily access to sports channels.||£3.49/£4.49 – SD and HD film rentals.£9.99/£13.99 – SD and HD film purchases.||£3.49/£4.49 – SD and HD film rentals.£9.99/£13.99 – SD and HD film purchases.|
Which Has The Best Selection?
Netflix does not boast a lot of new releases. However, the wealth of content they have in their library is extraordinary, clocking it at close to 2700 titles. They do have original Netflix produced content too like House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black that are only available to view on their service. The success of this content resulted in Amazon Prime Instant doing the same thing. They have two exclusive comedy shows called Alpha House, a political comedy with John Goodman, and the Silicon Valley sitcom Betas. Amazon Prime Instant also boasts an incredible 15,000 movies and TV shows. Although, like Netflix, most of it is at least a year old.
Now TV‘s on-demand selection is slightly more up to date. At the time of writing, they are in the process of adding two of last year’s big summer releases Monsters University and Planes. They add up to 16 ‘premiere’ titles like this every month. However, as it is only a new service, the selection does pale in comparison to Netflix and LoveFilm with only 800 titles.
Because they are Pay As You Go services, iTunes and Blinkbox tend to be the best options for customers looking to find the hottest new on-demand titles. You can generally stream a movie to day it comes out on home entertainment. iTunes has more titles than any other provider too, coming close to 100,000. Blinkbox has only 5700.
What Devices Do They Support, And How Many?
We mentioned above that each on-demand service allows you stream their content on a variety of devices. These can be smartphones, tablets or smart TVs. However, some services will not support your particular devices. Therefore, it’s important to know exactly what devices are supported before choosing which on-demand services to purchase, and how many you can use.
|Netflix||Amazon Prime Instant||Now TV||iTunes||Blinkbox|
|How Many Devices?||2 devices on the £5.99 subscription. 4 devices on the £8.99 subscription||Unlimited||You can register 4 devices and be using 2 at any one time||You can sync as many devices as you like to a single iTunes library. However, only 5 computers can be authorized for your account’s protected content like rentals||You can watch something you have bought or rented on up to 5 devices|
|Smart TVs||Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic||Sony, Samsung, LG||LG||N/A||Samsung, LG, Philips, Toshiba|
|Consoles||Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PS3, PS4||Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, PS3, PS4||PS3, Xbox 360||N/A||PS3, Xbox 360|
|Tablets||Android, iPad, Windows||Kindle, iPad||iPad, some Android devices||iPad||Android, iPad, Windows|
|Smartphones||Android, iPhone, Windows||iPhone||iPhone, some Android devices||iPhone||N/A|
|Blu Ray Players||Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic||Sony, Samsung, LG||N/A||N/A||LG, Samsung|
|Set Top Boxes||Virgin Media TiVo, Apple TV, Philips, Roku||N/A||Now TV Box, LG, Roku||Apple TV||LG, Philips, Technika|
What Is The Quality Of Streaming Like?
Now you know where you can view the films and television shows that on-demand services provide. But what will be the quality of the streaming? Everyone who is pricing up these services will likely have heard horror stories about low-quality content and folk tales about endless buffering times. This somewhat depends on the quality of your internet connection, but there are noticeable differences between each of the major players. We have looked at the main five and are able to provide you with the definitive information you need.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant both have the best streaming quality by some way. Their library is predominantly made up of 1080p videos that are able to buffer very quickly. These are all presented in Dolby 5.1 surround sound too. If you are streaming them via a handheld device these will be limited to 720p, but this is still a remarkably high definition. You probably won’t be able to notice the difference.
Meanwhile, iTunes lets you choose between a standard definition and high definition stream with a small price difference. Some of their HD content is 1080p, which you can access by setting it as your default HD stream in the iTunes store, and the remainder is 720p. This is the same for Blinkbox. The only one that may cause trouble is Now TV who have received hundreds of complaints about poor buffering and drops in quality.
1. Amazon Prime Instant – Amazon leads the way in content. It has more films and TV shows to watch than any other subscription on-demand service, and anything you can’t stream via subscription you can rent by post or purchase on pay-as-you-go. As these can all be watched on an unlimited, wide-ranging amount of devices, it provides an enormous value for money at a minimum of just £5.99 per month. (5/5)
2. Netflix – There isn’t quite as much content in Netflix’s UK library as its American one, but everything it does have is high quality, quick to load and often completely exclusive. Its prestigious name also means that Netflix is compatible with pretty much any device you can imagine. (4/5)
3. iTunes – iTunes is perfect if you’re an Apple fanatic who wants an online entertainment provider to complement their satellite television and DVD library. It syncs up nicely to your Apple devices and you won’t need to spend too much money if you are only using the service casually. Anyone else might want to think twice about iTunes though. As it only works on limited devices and you have to pay for everything you watch, iTunes could end up being both costly and ineffective. However, it gets four stars for its incredible wealth of content alone. Anything you could possibly want to watch is on iTunes. If you have any questions about Apple’s iTunes use the Apple contact number page. (4/5)
4. Blinkbox – Blinkbox hasn’t quite found a way to make itself a unique brand, borrowing much of iTunes’ format and pricing. However, for Android and Windows users who can’t use their tablets or smartphones to stream iTunes content, Blinkbox is a worthy alternative. Its content isn’t quite as exhaustive as Apple’s library, but it does boast high quality and quick speeds that should satisfy customers. (3/5)
5. Now TV – Sky are trying their best, but they haven’t quite grasped the idea of on-demand streaming yet. Their limited catalogue and high prices aren’t going to be very appealing for those looking to pick an online entertainment provider. What’s more: the nightmarish stories about its low quality and lengthy buffering times are very off-putting. (1/5)