VOD Players – Which Is The Best For You?

The way we watch movies and television is changing. Gone are the days of waiting until a specific time in the night to tune into the latest episode of your favourite drama; gone are the days of impatiently anticipating the arrival of a DVD you can’t wait to see in your local rental store. The entertainment industry is adapting to a new format: VOD players.

VOD players — which stands for video on demand — are services that provide a library of films and shows for you to watch when you want, how you want and where you want. You can choose to stream a quick 30-minute episode on the train ride to work or binge on a long-form drama through your tablet on a Sunday afternoon.

Some VOD players require you to pay per month; some require a simple payment for each title. Some have an enormous selection of television; some are aimed more towards movies. With so many options to choose from, which VOD player is the best? Here are our top five:

5. BFI Player

The BFI Player is the official VOD player of the British Film Institute which was launched in October 2013. Its selection is fairly limited, but what they do have is nonetheless impressive. Their catalogue features a handful of new releases including ‘The Epic Of Everest’, which was available to stream alongside its premiere at the BFI London Film Festival, and ‘The Selfish Giant’, which customers could watch on the day of its UK theatrical release. There is also a wealth of British and world cinema gems worth checking out as well as interviews, press conferences and Q&As with talent who have appeared at the BFI. However, the most appealing part of this VOD player’s selection is the footage from the BFI’s archive that they have made available to stream for the first time. These include a Rochdale tram ride from 1905,  footage from the 1902 Merseyside football derby between Liverpool and Everton, and a panorama of the River Avon from the turn of the 20th century. What’s more: they are completely free to watch.

4. Curzon On Demand

The small London-based cinema chain Curzon launched their own VOD player a couple of years ago. It’s a tremendous option for true cinephiles looking for titles that you wouldn’t expect to see on the likes of Netflix or iTunes. Their selection features an array of classic art house films like ‘The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg’, ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ for as little as £2 to rent. Meanwhile, Curzon On Demand also has a handful of brand new films that have just reached UK cinemas for the standard London theater price of £10. Streaming quality is based on your internet connection. If you have high speed broadband it will play in 720p high definition; if not it will appear in 320p or 460p standard definition.

3. LoveFilm Instant

LoveFilm’s postal service has been an overriding success, but what of their Instant online VOD player? It’s not nearly as exhaustive a collection but it’s still far better than most alternatives. There are around 2000 films on offer and 1000 TV shows that range from the latest blockbusters to the best of the independent scene. It also boasts a very user-friendly interface that allows you to find movies based on title, actor, director, year, genre and more. At £4.99 a month — the price you would usually pay for one or two rentals on any other VOD player — it’s an attractive price too.

2. iTunes

Apple’s digital store may be best known for its music, however, they also make an effort to stock up on many of the new movie and television releases. There are thousands and thousands of titles that you are able to purchase or rent — be it at a reduced price for standard definition (usually £2.49) or the slightly more expensive HD (usually £3.49). Rentals last a month and must be watched 48 hours after you have started viewing them. Purchases, on the other hand, last forever and give you access to a ton of extras. It also syncs up with several devices so you can buy a movie on your iPhone, for instance, and watch it on your Mac later that night.

1. Netflix Instant

There is a simple reason why Netflix are king of the VOD players with over 50 million subscribers: they have the biggest selection; they have the best quality; and they offer the best value for money. Since its inception in 2008 it has entered deals with many of the major Hollywood studios including Paramount, MGM and Warner giving customers a huge array of content. There are thousands of titles available to watch which are neatly organised under specific genres and sub-genres. Netflix also stores your watch history to recommend things that you might like. All of their TV shows, movies and stand up specials are available to stream on over 800 different devices. Netflix even have a number of television shows exclusive to the VOD player that they have produced themselves. The first and most popular is ‘House Of Cards’ which stars Kevin Spacey as a congressman who exacts revenge on those who have passed him up for Secretary Of State. It was nominated for four Golden Globe awards, one of which was won by Robin Wright for Best Actress In A TV Drama.