In the battle of the streaming services, it’s all to play for. Will Netflix, Prime Video or Now TV take the prize?
For a very long time, streaming giant Netflix has come out on top for quality, on-demand programming. The times they are a-changin’, though. As Amazon Prime Video UK and Now TV work on diversifying their content, it’s no longer just a one-horse race.
Here, we take an in-depth look at what Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV have to offer viewers right now. How do the three compare in the most important categories like quality of content, ease of use, price point and free trials.
Netflix vs Prime vs Now TV: Content
The amount and type of content Netflix UK, Prime Video UK and Now TV provide varies significantly, and this might influence where you choose to spend your hard-earned cash. You could even find yourself signing up to all three to get the full breadth of content you’re after.
Netflix currently has more than 5,000 titles, from films and documentaries to original TV shows and kids’ content. It’s not the biggest catalogue of the three, but it’s enough content to keep you going for quite a while.
It places a huge emphasis on both original US-made content and classic British TV series, for which the streaming service has international broadcasting rights. The quality of films on Netflix is pretty good, too, with some blockbusters and a slew of highly rated indie films.
However, Netflix has placed a much larger focus on its original content recently, meaning it’s not always fighting for the latest flicks. As of now, Netflix has over 700 original titles, which is pretty impressive.
Prime Video, on the other hand, has thousands of titles. There’s no exact figure for the overall amount of content but the search function surfaces around 20,000 films – yes, really, that many. It surpasses both Netflix and Now TV in terms of the sheer volume of content.
This includes plenty of films, series and original content, as well as the option of signing up to Amazon Prime Channels where you can access things like ITV Hub, BFI film player and Sweatflix. TV wise you can settle in with classics like Buffy and Lost, or discover Prime Video’s original content. Goliath, Bosch and The Man in the High Castle are a few of Prime’s most popular series right now.
You can also rent and buy content from Prime, so if there’s a film or series not included that you really want to watch, you can pay extra.
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Now TV has more than 3,000 films, series and kids’ titles all in all, but also has hundreds of channels that you can watch live. Much of the TV content changes weekly, though, as Now TV gives users access to brand-new episodes of Sky’s latest shows. The one downside to this is that new episodes disappear from Now TV as quickly as they do on Sky, so you’ll have to be quick if you want to catch them.
Film-wise, Now TV is also ahead of the game with a bunch of relatively new titles such as (at the time of writing) Avengers: Infinity War, Oceans 8, Black Panther and The Meg, although these change regularly. Better still, you can watch live films on a selection of the Sky cinema channels too.
Winner: It’s hard to pick a clear winner here. If you’re after the latest episodes of current series, then Now TV is a no-brainer. However, Netflix comes out on top for its excellent original content, while Prime Video has a mammoth catalogue of films and box sets to binge.
Netflix vs Prime vs Now TV: Ease of use
Netflix has long been abused for its clumsy user interface, but it’s actually got a lot better in the last year. Compare the user interface of Netflix with Prime Video and Now TV and you’ll see it’s not all that bad.
Netflix UK breaks its content down into a number of categories, such as blockbuster films, documentaries, sci-fi films and British comedies. It also has a fairly good search feature, which suggests similar titles to you if what you’re looking for isn’t there. The downside, which can be applied to all three streaming services, is that it often suggests the same things to you over and over.
Another nice, user-friendly feature Netflix has is continuous scrolling. This means that when you’ve spent ages going through one category, it’ll bring you back to the beginning once you hit the end, rather than making you go back through manually.
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Now TV has its fair share of flaws, too. Unlike Netflix and Prime Video, Now TV doesn’t automatically start playing the next episode of a show unless you physically tell it to. Not great if, like many people, you want to fall asleep watching your favourite shows. It’s also really easy to accidentally fast-forward on Now TV, and incredibly difficult to get back to the point where you previously were.
Winner: They could all do with improvements, but Netflix emerges as the best of a bad bunch.
Netflix vs Prime vs Now TV: Prices, devices and picture quality
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video UK and Now TV all offer monthly payment options, allowing you to essentially come and go as you please. This is also handy if you want to chop and change the streaming services you subscribe to.
There has to be a winner, though. So which of the three streaming giants come out on top?
Netflix subscription prices and picture quality:
Netflix has three monthly subscription options that give you full access to all content
- Basic: £5.99 – Stream on one device in standard definition (480p).
- Standard: £7.99 – Stream on up to two devices at a time in HD (720p).
- Premium: £9.99 – Stream on up to four devices at a time in HD and Ultra HD (1080p, 2160p).
Nice and easy here. The more you pay, the better picture quality you get.
Prime Video subscription prices and picture quality:
Prime Video has both monthly and annual subscription options, some video-only and some with full Prime benefits. You can stream up to three different titles at the same time on different devices.
- Prime Video only: £5.99 – Gives you access to all of Amazon Prime Video for a month (apart from Amazon Channels, which must be bought in addition to this).
- Amazon Prime: £7.99 – Gives you access to all of Prime Video, plus the added benefits of Amazon Prime such as free next day delivery on loads of items.
- Amazon Prime Annual: £79 – Same as above but with a small saving for upfront payment, (works out at £6.58 a month).
- Amazon Prime Student: £3.99 – Gives you access to all of the Amazon Prime benefits for a month, when you verify your student status.
- Amazon Prime Student Annual: £39 – Same as above but with a small saving for upfront payment, (works out at £3.25 a month).
You can watch Prime Video in SD, HD and at the moment, a handful of 4K and HDR TVs. These include:
- Samsung Ultra HD TVs (2015 or later models)
- Sony Ultra HD TVs (2015 or later models)
- LG Ultra HD TVs (2015 or later models)
- Samsung SUHD TVs (selected models from 2015 or later)
- Sony Ultra HD TVs (2015 or later models)
- LG OLED and Super UHD TVs (selected models from 2015 or later)
Now TV subscription prices and picture quality:
Now TV has a different structure and offers stackable monthly, weekly and daily passes for specific sections of content, available for streaming on up to two devices at a time:
- Monthly Entertainment Pass: £7.99 – Gives you access to 13 Sky Channels that aren’t available through Freeview.
- Monthly Sky Cinema Pass: £11.99 – Gives you access to over 1,000 films with new releases every month.
- Monthly Sky Kids Pass: £3.99 – Gives you access to thousands of episodes of children’s TV for one month.
- Monthly Sky Sports Pass: £33.99 – Gives you full access to Sky Sports for one month.
- Weekly Sky Sports Pass: £12.99 – Gives you full access to Sky Sports for one week.
- One day Sky Sports Pass: £7.99 – Gives you full access to Sky Sports for one day.
- Mobile monthly Sky Sports Pass: £5.99 – Gives you access to five Sky Sports channels for a month on your mobile only.
As of November 2019, Now TV now streams at up to 1080p with 5.1 surround sound support. The catch is that you’ll have to pay for the privilege: it’s called Now TV Boost, and it costs an extra £3/mth on top of your current monthly payment. Ordinarily, Now TV streams at 720p.
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Winner: There’s no doubt about it, Amazon Prime Video takes the prize here. The sheer volume of content, cost, picture quality and added benefits make Amazon a clear winner.
Netflix vs Prime vs Now TV: Free trials
Both Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a 30-day free trial, giving you full access to the entire service. That includes access to loads of cool, original content on Netflix and some classic eighties and nineties films on Prime Video UK.
Better still, if you’re a student, Amazon Prime offers a full SIX months of free access, which includes free next-day delivery and early access to Prime sales.
Now TV, on the other hand, seriously lets us down in the freebie department. While the Sky streaming service occasionally offers longer trials for entertainment, film and sport packages, the standard free trial is only seven days. That’s just not enough time for the average person to explore everything Now TV has to offer.
Winner: Practically speaking, it’s a joint tie between Netflix and Amazon Prime Video here, but personal preference and student status might change that.
Netflix vs Prime Video vs Now TV: Overall verdict
Each service has its own pros and cons, but overall Netflix still takes the win for best streaming service. Why? It ticks the right boxes for what most people want. Netflix has tonnes of highly rated, regularly updated content and doesn’t bully you into paying out extra for additional stuff. Its ease of use also surpasses that of Prime Video and Now TV, and it’s supported on a decent number of devices.
Prime Video and Netflix have a similar price point, though, and you get a lot more for your money when subscribing to Prime in its entirety. This makes it tempting to hand over the crown to Amazon, but we’re judging this solely on its worth as a streaming service, and it’s not quite there yet. It’s still an inexpensive option with plenty of good content, though, and as it continues to expand it might be worth moving over in future.
What about Now TV? While Sky’s streaming service nabs some great shows and films, it doesn’t consistently have enough quality content to justify its unattractively high price point. Worse still, if you’re on a budget you might have to choose between a film or entertainment pass, which isn’t exactly ideal. For one-off sporting events and must-see shows, Now TV is worth exploring, but it’s just not good enough for a long-term commitment.