Online streaming services that offer movies and TV shows have become increasingly popular in the UK. According to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), a quarter of UK households are now subscribed to a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service. Consumers are increasingly more interested in consuming content utilising these subscription based services.
The BBC has reported that revenues for video streaming subscriptions will reach £1.17 billion by 2019 as users are predicted to more than double in the five years leading up to 2019. The major broadcasters offer free streaming platforms such as the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, but for many people looking for something more, a fee paying subscription based service is an extremely viable option.
Here we look at some of the major players operating in the UK market currently, as well as some honourable mentions.
The Best Online Movie and TV Streaming Services:The Major Players
Netflix is the dominant SVOD service in the UK. The number of households with its service increased by 1.4 million between the end of 2014 and the end of 2015, according to BARB. Its USP is its original content output.Overview
- Known for its high quality original TV shows.
- Highlights include: House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.
- Its movies are largely ‘back catalogue’.
- It has occasional movie partnership deals that allow it access to new releases e.g. The Hobbit trilogy aired on Netflix before its competitors.
- It has slowly begun to produce movies that are housed on Netflix at the same time as their cinematic release e.g. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.
The Crown is a highly anticipated new Netflix Original series.
- The majority of movies and TV shows are in HD (high definition).
- The user interface is easy to navigate and standardised across most devices.
- There is a dedicated home screen and content for kids, allowing for more parental control.
- It is not up to date with the latest movie releases.
- The vast majority of movies are more than two years old.
- Movies and TV series get removed with little or no warning when the content deals expire between Netflix and its content distributor.
- They have three types of monthly subscription fees.
- The options depend on the number of screens viewable at the same time and standard, HD or Ultra HD definition.
- Prices range from £5.99 to £8.99 respectively. Price hikes do occur.
Top Tip!What’s on Netflix, is an unofficial Netflix fan site that lists what’s new, coming soon, leaving soon and originals in one very handy location with dedicated Netflix UK information.
Amazon Prime Instant Video
Amazon Prime Instant Video is second to Netflix in its market share of subscribers in the UK. The number of households with its service increased by 500,000 between the end of 2014 and the end of 2015, according to BARB. Its USP is its overall good value when combined with the wider Amazon Prime service.
- Amazon Prime Instant Video has 15,000 TV shows and movies.
- It is the dedicated movie and TV show streaming service of the larger Amazon Prime service and was formally known as LoveFilm in the UK.
- You can sign up to Amazon Prime Instant Video as a monthly subscriber without having to be part of the Amazon Prime annual membership programme.
Sneak-a-peak at the season 2 trailer for The Man in the High Castle created by Amazon Studios.Pros
- A similar catalogue to Netflix, but with a few more exclusives.
- Access to original content created by Amazon Studios.
- These include the TV shows: Hand of God, Transparent and The Man in the High Castle.
- More recently released movies are available, when compared to Netflix.
- A lack of profiles for individual family members.
- The user interface on some devices does not distinguish between the Amazon Prime content and Amazon Prime Instant Video content.
- Amazon Prime Instant Video costs £5.99 a month for a subscription.
- Amazon Prime members also get it as part of their annual subscription which costs £79 a year, only a little over £7 more in total when compared to the Amazon Prime Instant Video monthly subscription over the 12 months.
- Amazon Prime represents better value as the service offers extra incentives.
Amazon Student is a great option for students and includes access to Amazon Prime Instant Video. Those in full time education can opt into a free six month trial with an option to get the overall Amazon Prime service at half price once the trial period ends.
Now TV is the third highest SVOD service in terms of market share of subscribers, in the UK. The number of households with its service increased by 300,000 between the end of 2014 and the end of 2015, according to BARB. Its USP is its access to the most recently released movies.
- Now TV is owned by Sky.
- It offers movie and TV content for live and on-demand viewing which is normally only broadcast by Sky on one or more of its premium TV channels.
- It has multiple separate services offered through the same interface that are customer preference dependent and its prices reflect this.
Watch this short video to learn how to use the dedicated Now TV box.Pros
- Offers much more recent movie releases, not too far behind new Blue-ray disc releases. This is in stark contrast to Netflix for example.
- Highlights content that is ‘soon to be removed’ to prompt you to catch up quickly on your viewing before it gets removed.
- For sports in particular, its options are hard to beat.
- You can purchase a dedicated Now TV streaming box.
- It does not offer a full HD service currently so picture quality is typically standard definition or 720p definition at the most.
- The selection of TV shows offered is not as large as other services.
- You are limited to four activated devices on your Now TV account, whereas Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant TV offer more.
- The Sky Cinema Month Pass costs £9.99 per month and includes all Sky Cinema movies.
- The Sports Day Pass costs £6.99 for 24 hours and provides access to seven Sky Sports channels. Weekly and monthly sports passes also exist.
- The Entertainment Month Pass costs £6.99 per month. It includes access to channels not available on Freeview. These include Sky Atlantic and Sky 1.
- A Kids Month Pass also exists at £2.99 per month.
For those who decide to purchase a Now TV streaming box and want to extend its use, read this post to get the inside track.
The Best Online Movie and TV Streaming Services: Honourable Mentions
While Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Now TV are the major TV and movie streaming service providers in the UK market, other options offering more niche forms of content also exist.
DisneyLife is a subscription based streaming service offering dedicated content for children. All content is age appropriate and offers movies and TV shows in addition to eBooks and music from the Disney record label. Parental controls can be set up for each family member and the service costs £9.99 per month.*
Mubi is an alternative subscription based streaming service predominantly focused on offering indie, cult and classic movies. It is the ideal option for those who love to focus on niche and independent movies that do not always make it to mainstream cinema audiences. It costs £5.99 per month.*
Sky Go and Virgin TV Anywhere are streaming options that act as add-ons to the traditional TV subscription providers Sky and Virgin Media. They service existing paying customers offering streaming and catch-up services.
*Note: Prices mentioned in this post are accurate at the time of writing, but are subject to change according to each streaming service providers’ terms and conditions.