We’re all having to be a bit more savvy with how we spend our money at the moment – and if you’re scanning the horizon for a new TV or movie streaming service, the choice is pretty wide. That’s why we’ve picked out the best TV and film streaming services around so you can find out at a glance how they compare.
Each streaming service has their AAA performers and your choice really will come down to what suits your particular palette – and you can always try the majority of them before fully committing to a month or yearly subscription. This is the perfect way to get up close and personal with a streaming service and it pays to have a nose around just to see the full menu of what’s available before putting your money down. After all, not all services publish their full roster, and gems can be found if you dig deep. There’s still no sign of my beloved Northern Exposure though. Maybe one day.
Netflix is arguably the best-known TV and film streaming service out there thanks to its varied mix of content covering a gamut of subjects and genres. It became the streaming service of choice during lockdown thanks to The Tiger King – a documentary series that lit up social media at the time and helped propel Netflix into living rooms on both sides of the Atlantic.
Netflix also had rock fans excited when it was announced that Motley Crue biopic The Dirt would be exclusive to the platform and it’s still the only place to watch it.
Want more? Well, Netflix also has stranger things, The Witcher, Castlevania, after-life, Glow, Schitt’s Creek, The Crown, Last Chance U, Better Call Saul, Ozarks, Parks And Recreation, store, breaking bad, Trailer Park Boys and all the wonderful Studio Ghibli films… and a lot more besides. Phew!
There’s even a neat selection of music-related stuff like Metallica’s Some Kind Of Monster, Springsteen On Broadway, David Bowie: The Man Who Changed The World and ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas. Basically, there’s plenty of content to get stuck into.
Netflix offer three different price tiers starting with their Basic package at $9.99/£5.99 a month. This gives you all the content but resolution is capped at 480p. The Standard tier costs $15.99/£9.99 a month and ups the fidelity to 1080p. However, if you’re looking for 4K+HDR, you’ll need to shell out $19.99/£13.99 a month on Netflix’s Premium plan.
If you’re after an outrageous selection of TV shows, movies, documentaries, animation and concert films, then Amazon Prime Video is definitely worth a closer look. Not only will you get as much TV as you can filter into your eyeballs, but you’ll also get access to two million songs via Amazon Music Prime, the annual Amazon Prime Day sales extravaganza and the shopping giant’s speedy delivery service.
If the music side of things appeals, you can also upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited which will give you access to a total of 75 million songs – but it’s worth noting that’s not included in the basic Prime membership.
But back to Amazon Prime Video and along with a huge range of classic films and TV favourites, there’s also the Amazon Originals to take in. This range of exclusive content has been well supported and some standouts include the big-budget fantasy series. The Wheel Of Time and sci-fi epic TheExpanse. Prime Video will also be the home of the brand new Lord Of The Rings spinoff, The Rings Of Power which is set to launch in September 2022.
As for music content, there’s plenty to keep you entertained with must-watch documentaries such as We Are Twisted Sister, live concert films, the Classic Album series and more. You can also rent or buy movies and TV series from your Amazon account and watch them through the app on your computer, phone, tablet or TV.
A monthly subscription to Amazon Prime Video costs $12.99/£7.99 a month but there’s also a free 30-day trial period which you can cancel at any time.
Disney+ has made quite an impact since it launched in the US in 2019 and its subsequent global expansion through 2020. People may have initially dismissed it as a place to only watch traditional cartoons and children’s films. But Disney+ is so much more and is the home for all things Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic – and that means a massive amount of content to feast your eyes on.
Star Wars in particular has really hit hyperdrive since the channel launched, with the films joined by mega successful spin-offs The Mandalorian and The Book Of Boba Fett, while it’s also the home of Peter Jackson’s acclaimed three-part documentary The Beatles: Get Back.
Disney’s push beyond the confines of their family-friendly face was further helped when they unveiled the Star channel in February 2021 which brings viewers more adult-oriented content from a range of channels including Hulu, FX, ABC and Touchstone Pictures.
In making this move, Disney+ proved it can be a streaming service the whole family can enjoy, and the fact that 4K UHD streaming with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support on compatible devices for no extra cost is simply the icing on the cake.
Disney+ costs $7.99/£7.99 a month or $80/£79.90 for an annual subscription. US customers also have the added bonus of being able to add Hulu and ESPN+ to their membership plan for $14.99 a month. The only downside is that Disney+ no longer offer a 30-day free trial so you’ll have to dive straight in with your wallet.
When Apple entered the TV and film streaming market, many eyebrows were raised when they realized the channel would be focusing on their own content – no re-runs of old TV favorites or films we’ve all watched a dozen times. But if there were doubts at the time, those have been firmly laid to rest thanks to a wealth of quality content.
Among staples on the channel such as The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston, see with Jason Momoa and ted lasso starring Jason Sudeikis, are a range of movies, comedies, documentaries and music films to explore, including Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You and the Beastie Boys Story.
Apple TV+ also regularly adds to its content so there’s always something worthwhile to explore – and there are also family friendly films and cartoons for the kids.
Apple TV+ can be played through an Apple TV box, phone, iPad, Mac, a range of smart TVs and via an app on current gen games consoles.
If you sign up, you’ll receive a seven-day free trial. After that you’ll be charged $4.99/£4.99 a month. You can also get three months of Apple TV+ free if you buy an eligible Apple device such as an Apple TV box from the Cupertino-based company.
NOW is part of the Sky network, but it differs from its parent in a number of ways – most importantly, it’s a bit more flexible. NOW is a UK only service and it features five separate channels: Movies, Entertainment, Sport, Kids and Hayu.
Each channel can be subscribed to separately on a month basis, letting you tailor your viewing experience without having to sign up for channels that don’t interest you.
Movies costs £9.99 a month and opens the door to more than 1000 films across 11 Sky Cinema channels, including Sky Cinema Premiere, Sky Cinema Hits, Sky Cinema Comedy and Sky Cinema Sci-Fi Horror. Loads to choose from and if you’re a film buff, this should be your first port of call.
Entertainment boasts a total of 14 channels and also costs £9.99 a month. For your cash you’ll have instant access to channels including Comedy Central, MTV, SYFY and Sky Arts. Sky Atlantic is also available in this tier and serves as the home of HBO in the UK – a place where you can watch all eight seasons of Game of Thrones, Dexter: New Blood, American Rust, yellowjackets and more.
Music fans are well catered for in the Entertainment tier too, with Sky Arts showing a multitude of concert films and documentaries such as Metallica S&M2, Black Sabbath: The End Of The End, Guns N’ Roses: Appetite For Democracy, Brian Johnson’s Life On The Road and the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.
Sport is much more pricy, with an monthly sub costing £33.99 which gives you access to 11 dedicated sports channels covering football, cricket, golf, F1 and more.
Kids, meanwhile, costs £9.99 a month and includes Cartoon Network, Nick Jr and Sky Kids, while Hayu is home to scores of reality TV shows and is priced at £4.99 a month.
Anyone watching Super Bowl LVI couldn’t have failed to notice the multitude of ads for Peacock TV throughout the course of the game. One seemed to be on every commercial break and the focus was heavily on the the rom-com movie marry me starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson – which Peacock TV has exclusive streaming rights to. The NBCUniversal channel also had rights to broadcast the match-up between the Rams and the Bengals, but those two examples were locked behind a paywall.
But what’s unusual about Peacock TV is that much of its content in the US is free to watch – so you can enjoy hundreds of hours of comedy, dramas, reality shows, sci-fi, animation and documentaries without spending a dime. However, to unlock everything Peacock TV has to offer, you’ll need to pay $5 a month or $10 a month for the premium service. The difference? The $5 tier has adverts, while the $10 option removes them completely.
If you’re based in the UK, you can access Peacock TV for no extra cost as part of a Sky or NOW subscription.