These days, there are a whole range of streaming services on offer. From giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, to more niche platforms such as Mubi. Each offer something unique, and a wide range of TV shows and films to choose from.
We’ve taken a look at eleven different streaming subscriptions across both the UK and the US and ranked them based on the TV and film libraries on offer, the cost of each one and any other pros and cons we could find. You can also take a look at which streaming services offer Dolby Vision here.
- Biggest range of content
- Worldwide accessibility
- Mix of originals and syndicated TV series and films
- Cheapest plan doesn’t offer the same benefits as competitors
- Pricing becoming less competitive
Sign up for Netflix here
Sure it’s obvious to start with this one, but Netflix is still the big cheese when it comes to streaming services. With over 4,000 films and nearly 2,000 shows, this service has carved out a niche for itself as becoming a household name. It’s the most accessible service worldwide, now available in over 200 countries – though some shows and movies vary depending on the region.
The pricing for the UK and US currently stands at £4.99/$6.99 for the Basic with Ads plan (one screen, no ultra-HD and ads), £6.99/$9.99 per month for its Basic plan (one screen and no ultra-HD), £10.99/$15.49 per month for the Standard plan (two devices for streaming and HD content), and £15.99/$19.99 per month for Premium which comes with Ultra HD content and the ability to stream on up to four screens.
Netflix originals are also available in huge abundance now. Some of the most well-known include Stranger Things, Orange Is The New Black, Narcos and Queer Eye. These can obviously be hit and miss (there was a lot of money sunk into an average Adam Sandler movie), but there are some real gems that stand up with the likes of HBO content.
Netflix does still rely on syndicated staples to retain viewers. For example, Netflix UK holds the rights to nineties classic, Friends. However, with Disney+ and HBO Max bidding for the rights of some of the most popular content, Netflix may see some of its flagship shows and films eventually fall to rivals. But for now, it still stands on the gold podium for streaming.
Amazon Prime Video
- Offers other benefits besides video streaming
- Amazon originals are much better now
- Worldwide accessibility
- Original content not quite on par with Netflix
Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime here
Amazon may dominate when it comes to online shopping, but it still can’t quite match Netflix on streaming content just yet – though it is very close. With classic shows like The Office to cinema blockbusters like Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, there’s a mixed bag to keep you streaming.
Amazon Prime Video is £5.99/$8.99 per month, but you can sign up for Amazon Prime for £95 per year/£8.99 per month in the UK and $119 per year/$14.99 per month in the US which also includes extras such as free next day delivery, Amazon Prime Music and free eBooks. Like with Netflix’s standard package, you can stream two devices at once.
Amazon also has some really successful exclusives including The Rings of Power, Good Omens, The Boys, Mr Robot, Vikings, Preacher, The Grand Tour and American Gods, though only a handful can match the Netflix shows for quality or popularity. Some of the shows in the catalogue are on borrowed time.
The Prime catalogue can be extended even further by signing up to additional Channels. These are essentially streaming services that either feature content made by specific studios like MGM, HBO, and the Discovery channel or genre-specific offerings such as the horror-focused Shudder, anime-hub Viewster, and high-brow/arthouse BFI. However, these extras do come at a hefty price.
- Some of the biggest blockbuster films and shows
- More big Star Wars and Marvel shows are scheduled for the future
- Star adds Hulu programming in the UK
- Cheaper ad-supported plan available
- Not the best service if you don’t like superheroes, animation or sci-fi
- Not available worldwide
Sign up for Disney+ here
Disney+ has become more and more competitive in recent months. Not only does it have a whole library of MCU, Disney Channel, Pixar, Star and Fox content, but its original Star Wars show The Mandalorian had one of the biggest debuts of any programme on a streaming platform. That was followed up by the Marvel hit WandaVision. The platform also has the big draw of hero shows like The Simpsons offering weeks of entertainment to enjoy and new Marvel TV releases on a regular basis.
Disney+ costs £7.99/$10.99 per month, and £79.90/$109.99 for a year. This pricing includes up to four devices for watching in ultra-HD, and the service can be accessed on a wide range of media boxes, PCs, smartphones, tablets and consoles.
US subscribers can also now take advantage of the ad-supported plan for £7.99 per month. This is currently only available in America, but is expected to release in the UK and the rest of the world later this year.
The platform has expanded over the last few years, but it doesn’t quite have the same worldwide reach as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. The addition of Star has brought more adult programming to the platform, including The X-Files, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Atlanta and Desperate Housewives, plus originals like Pam & Tommy. However, Star is not available in the US.
- Flexible range of passes to choose from
- Sky content without the need for a box or contract
- High quality shows from cable and some big blockbusters
- Only available in the UK
- Pricey if investing in multiple memberships
- Have to pay extra for full HD – no 4K or HDR at all
- Some ads
Sign up for Now’s Cinema Membership here
Sign up for Now’s Entertainment Membership here
Now is the streaming alternative to Sky. It’s only available in the UK, so US viewers should instead take a look at HBO Max as there’s a lot of crossover. There are five separate memberships to choose from with Now: Entertainment, Cinema, Kids, Hayu and Sports. Entertainment is predominantly TV, including the best output from Sky’s channels such as House of the Dragon, The Last of Us, The Wire and True Detective.
Both the Entertainment Membership and Cinema Membership are £9.99 per month each, but you’ll get a very decent selection of films and TV series, and there are usually some introductory discounts. It’s also worth noting that by default the quality is capped at 720p and you’ll have to pay an extra £3.99 per month for Now Boost to get HD (along with Dolby 5.1 surround sound, support for 50fps on some Sky Sports content and no ads). There’s still no 4K or HDR support at all.
Now is available online, through iOS and Android, on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and most smart TVs. You can add up to six devices to your account, but can only watch on two devices at the same time.
As the memberships for Now are quite expensive, we would recommend investing in a bundle first and then sticking with your favourite pass for your content. Of course, bear in mind that this will mean choosing between TV and film – so if you’d like both on the cheap, this isn’t the right streaming platform for you.
- HBO content without the need to sign-up for cable
- Impressive exclusives
- Extensive Warner Bros. film and TV library
- Only available in the select regions, excluding the UK
- On the expensive side for ad-free viewing
- Has culled content during 2022
Sign up for HBO Max here
Taking advantage of the HBO back catalogue, a massive film & TV selection via Warner Bros. and some impressive exclusives, HBO Max offers a library of content that few rivals can match.
HBO exclusives like House of the Dragon, The Last of Us, Game of Thrones, Veep and The Wire form the heart of the service, but classic Warner Bros. movies and shows like Looney Tunes and Friends make up the numbers. It is also home to exclusives such as the Snyder cut of Justice League and the Friends reunion special. However, last year the platform dropped a lot of its popular shows, including Westworld and a whole host of animated series.
HBO Max offers premium content on a monthly subscription basis. For this reason, you’re looking at $15.99 a month to stream to a few devices at one time with no ads. In comparison to others on this list, that’s not great. However, there is also a cheaper, ad-supported version of the service which costs $9.99 per month. However, this only streams up to 1080p.
The other big downside is that HBO Max is currently only available in selected countries, with a big chunk of Europe missing out. Viewers in the UK and elsewhere have no way to watch some exclusives at all. It is possible to watch HBO Max using a VPN – though otherwise Now includes many of the most popular HBO shows and films.
- Free tier available
- NBC staples and classic movies
- Sports programming
- Exclusive originals are not extensive at the moment
Sign up for Peacock here
Peacock has a massive advantage over rivals on this list, in that it has a completely free tier. With that, you get catch-up access to current NBC shows within one week, as well as select episodes of Peacock originals and the ability to select sporting events.
The biggest TV titles on the free tier catalogue include NBC staples such as 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live. There are also popular movie series to check out, including The Die Hard series and the Karate Kid series.
There is also a Premium tier, which costs $4.99 per month for ad-supported content, and $9.99 per month for ad-free content (both with a seven-day free trial). Subscribing for a paid account will give you next-day catch up on NBC broadcast shows, full access to all Peacock originals and more films and series such as Two and a Half Men, Everybody Loves Raymond, Cheers and more.
Peacock also broadcasts lots of sporting events, including the Premier League, the Tour De France and the Winter Olympics. But whilst all these things are appealing, the list of exclusive originals at the time of writing is a little bare-boned and pales in comparison to the likes of Netflix.
This is another US exclusive streaming platform. However, Peacock content can be accessed via Now’s entertainment membership in the UK, and via Sky. However, not all the content shown on the US version is also syndicated in the UK. Fortunately, there is a way to sign up in for Peacock US in the UK.
- Films that you wouldn’t see on any bigger platform
- Offers a changing variety for viewers
- Some stuff may be just too niche
- Time limit on watching content may feel pressuring
- Out-priced by rivals
Sign up for a seven day free trial of Mubi here
Mubi is a bit of a rogue choice in the streaming wars, but if your tastes are highbrow then it may be the perfect option for you. It offers a big vintage film collection and a few select contemporary modern art house titles, and all the movies are critically acclaimed.
Deliberately, Mubi has a fast-moving library, with films only being kept on the platform for 30 days at a time, with one film being swapped out every single day, though it now also offers a library section that preserves some of its back catalogues to watch whenever you’d like.
On the one hand, this system means that you’ll always have something new to watch, and can check out curated collections from certain directors or genres.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to have a watch list for the future, and the month-long deadline may turn your relaxing streaming into something a bit more high-pressure. It’s also not the platform if you want something nice and fluffy or mind-numbing. You should only check out Mubi if you’re looking to expand your film knowledge or challenge your familiar tastes.
Mubi is available on most devices and boxes in both the UK and US. It costs £9.99/$10.99 per month (cheaper if you pay for a full year) and there’s a seven-day free trial. This puts it in the middle of the pricing bracket, which may be a bit baffling considering that it doesn’t have big titles to fall back on. However, the eclectic library can be found nowhere else.
- Watch the most recent US content
- Lots of attractive original series
- The choice for anyone who wants Fox content that is not on Disney+ in the US
- Only available in the US
- Big price difference between basic and premium plans
- Lots of other content on other streaming…