Tech

Which streaming service is best for you?

Television is dead. Streaming is king. 

With a host of services scrambling to offer the best new content at the most competitive rate, making a choice on which media package to plump for is more difficult than ever.

We've broken down the best contenders of streaming packages into their particular merits to make the job of picking a new entertainment partner a good deal easier.

  • Which streaming service is best for you?

    Netflix

    Type: Subscription only

    Prices

    • Basic: £5.99/month, no HD, streams to only one device
    • Standard: £7.49/month, HD, streams to two devices
    • Premium: £8.99/month, 'Ultra' HD, streams to four devices

    Best picks

    • Making a Murderer
    • Nachos
    • Breaking Bad

    Who's it right for: The every man

    With close to five million UK subscribers, if you want to join in with the water cooler discussion of that latest show, this is the only option you should consider.

    Yes, some of your favourite shows might disappear without warning, and no, it doesn't get the biggest new releases - but as Netflix continues to create its own top-quality franchises (the less said about Adam Sandler the better), the streaming throne is theirs to lose.

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 1

    Amazon Prime

    Type: Subscription and pay-as-you-watch

    Prices

    • £79.00 a year - giving access to one-day delivery, video and photo services and the wider film and TV content
    • Select Films available for one-off payment of £3.45

    Best picks

    • Man in the High Castle
    • Mad Dogs
    • Transparent 

    Who's it right for: The thrifty viewer

    Yes, it's got some great exclusive shows, and yes, Amazon gets its hands on a lot of the major film releases first - but it's the additional perks that come with the subscription that will win you over.

    One other huge advantage over Netflix is the ability to download series or films onto your device to watch it on the move. As Amazon continue to pump cash into their entertainment arm, this offering is only going to improve with time. 

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 2

    Sky Now TV

    Type: Subscription and pay-as-you-watch

    Prices

    • Sky Movies: £9.99/month
    • Sky Sports: £6.99 for one-off events
    • Sky Entertainment: £6.99/month

    Best picks

    • Sons of Anarchy
    • Stan Lee's Lucky Man
    • Sky Sports exclusives 

    Who's it right for: The occasional browser

    You're a man of the world. You've got books to read, podcasts to listen to, video games to fail at. You don't have time to regularly binge watch new TV shows and films, nor do your habits warrant a full Sky subscription.

    If you want to dip in and out of viewing costly content, Now TV is a seriously competitive option - though it's a shame you can't download shows to travel with you.

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 3

    Disney Life

    Type: Subscription

    Price: £9.99/month

    Best picks

    • All the Pixar titles
    • Aladdin 
    • The Lion King

    Who's it right for: The discerning dad

    No, you're not going to get a subscription to Disney Life for yourself. But if you've got two kids and five-hour drive ahead of you, it could be the streaming option that saves your sanity.

    In addition to its vast collection of classic Disney titles, modern offerings and the Pixar catalogue (which you can download onto a tablet, solving holiday travel boredom forever), you also get access to soundtracks, books and a substantial number of apps.

    Should Disney add the Marvel and Star Wars catalogues as exclusives, this could become a must-own. 

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 4

    Mubi

    Type: Subscription

    Price: £4.99/month

    Best picks

    • Pulp Fiction
    • The 39 Steps
    • Vampir

    Who's it best for: The arthouse fan

    Mubi won't bring you The Avengers before anyone else. It couldn't give a toss about Breaking Bad. This is an affordable treat for the budding film purist - providing you with a specially curated selection of 30 cult, independent films, adding a new one every day. 

    It's a novel approach to film streaming, that actively tries to be a bit different. Perfect for broadening your horizons, at the risk of sounding like a film wanker. 

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 5

    Google Play

    Type: Pay-as-you-watch

    Prices

    • TV shows from £1.89 per episode
    • Films from £3.49 to rent, £9.99 to buy

    Best picks

    • The Walking Dead
    • Sicario
    • The Martian

    Who's it right for: The mobile browser

    Do you prefer to watch your media on your commute? Google Play allows you to download media on up to five devices from one account - so you can watch your show of choice from your laptop, then your mobile, then your games console without having to sign in and out.

    The Google Play library will also get some of the biggest titles first, but you'll have to pay a premium to own it. Rental options are available on some new titles, but it's more like a digital DVD store than a subscription service.

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 6

    Apple iTunes

    Type: Pay-as-you-watch

    Prices

    • TV shows from £2.49
    • Films from £4.49 to rent, £9.99 to buy

    Best picks

    • The Good Wife
    • Straight Outta Compton
    • Mad Max: Fury Road

    Who's it right for: The Apple enthusiast

    You've got an Apple TV. You're not altogether sure why, but there it is, sitting under your TV like a stealth tissue box. The Apple iTunes library is pretty much the raison d'etre for your Apple TV, with a whole host of new content available to buy on demand.

    Unlike Google Play, you're only allowed to take your freshly purchased/rented title with you on one device: as soon as you download it from your iTunes to your iPhone, it won't be available for your iPad until you swap it over. 

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 7

    TalkTalk TV Store/Blinkbox

    Type: Pay-as-you-watch

    Price

    • TV shows from £1.89 per episode
    • Films from £3.45 to rent, £9.99 to buy (offers from £5)

    Best picks

    • Dragon Blade
    • Predator
    • Homeland

    Who's it best for: One-off bargain hunters

    Once upon a time there was Blinkbox - a pay-as-you-watch service with a hansom selection of films. Then Tesco bought it. Then Tesco sold it to TalkTalk - and right now, it's going through something of a facelift, halfway between ditching the Blinkbox branding and taking up its TalkTalk identity.

    The library of TalkTalk TV's films and movies will rival any of the other pay-as-you-watch services for pricing and early access. What sets it apart is its offers section, that gives cut prices for a range of titles old and new. 

    Mad Max for £3.45? Yes please.

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 8

    Xbox/Windows Store

    Type: Pay-as-you-view

    Prices

    • TV shows from £1.89 per episode
    • Films from £3.49

    Best picks

    • Star Wars: The Complete Saga
    • Z Nation
    • The Walking Dead

    Who's it best for: The Microsoft enthusiast

    Got an Xbox One? And a Windows 10 PC? And a Windows Smartphone (stop sniggering, they're good phones)? 

    By far the easiest way to watch your media purchases across these devices is via the Windows Store (formerly the Xbox Store), allowing you to download films and TV shows on up to five devices. 

    The curation of the Windows Store is also noteworthy, with shows and films made remarkably easier to find than some competitors. We're looking at you, Netflix. 

  • Which streaming service is best for you? 9

    PlayStation Store

    Type: Pay-as-you-watch

    Prices

    • TV shows from £1.89
    • Films from £3.49

    Best picks

    • Sicario
    • The Martian
    • Killjoys

    Who's it best for: The PlayStation owner

    You can run Netflix from your PlayStation 4. And Now TV. And several other video streaming services.

    PlayStation's Store doesn't attempt to compete with these services, but offers some brilliant discounts on titles that might be more expensive elsewhere.

    Get digging for a bargain.