Broadcast and cable television is slowly becoming a thing of the past. One of the first companies to realize this was Netflix - it was among the first to explore the idea of creating original programming to be streamed exclusively through it. And it worked.
Back in 2013, Netflix commissioned three successful series - House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, and Orange Is the New Black - that collected piles of Emmy Award nominations each. Of course, the competitors wanted their part of the market: the last couple of years have seen several streaming services emerge, all of them with their original programming, turning the previously simple and transparent market (basically, Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu, and Amazon) into something way more complex and hard to navigate. So, let’s take a look at some of the major international movie and TV streaming services available today and check out which ones offer the best value for the money spent.
- Basic subscription: £5.99 a month (a single screen at a time, standard definition)
- Standard subscription: £8.99 a month (high-definition, two screens at a time)
- Premium subscription: £11.99 a month (HD and 4K Ultra HD for some shows, four screens at a time)
The veteran of streaming offers the same content library for all of its subscriptions - what changes is the number of people who can watch it simultaneously, and the quality of the streams. A quick calculation will show that the Premium plan offers great value - around £3 a month per user, the costs can be divided between friends, neighbours, families, or whatever arrangement you can think of.
Netflix has seen several major titles withdrawn by their respective owners recently - Marvel series, the “Friends” franchise, and some others - it still has a huge content library that continuously grows.
Netflix is spending a great deal on original programming. While the result is sometimes mediocre at best, there are many brilliant pieces of programming that are exclusive to Netflix: think of the high-fantasy series “The Witcher”, crime drama “Peaky Blinders” that won big at this year’s NTAs, the cyberpunk gem “Altered Carbon”, the coming-of-age-science-fiction-horror series “Stranger Things”, the true-crime documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”, and high-profile feature films such as “The Old Guard” or “Extraction”. In total, it has close to 14,000 movies and TV shows in its libraries.
Amazon Prime Video
- Individual subscription: £5.99 (free with a £79 per year Amazon Prime membership, 2 simultaneous streams)
Amazon Prime Video went online in 2006 but it struggled to find its place - and its name - for years. Its first pieces of original programming were released in 2013 - the comedy series “Betas”, the fantasy series “Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street”, and the political satire series “Alpha House” were among them. Since then, the content library of Amazon Prime Video has grown significantly.
Amazon also has a huge library of third-party content included with its subscription, especially movies - it has a huge library of more than 17,000 titles, covering everything from B-list garbage to Oscar-winning movies. It often collaborates with “traditional” TV channels to produce content: “Good Omens”, for example, was made in collaboration with BBC Two, and “The Widow”, with ITV. Plus, it has “salvaged” one of the highest-profile sci-fi shows in the world today, “The Expanse”.
- £5.99 per month or £59.99 a year (four screens at a time)
Disney+ is one of the more recent additions to the streaming market. As its name suggests, it is run by Disney and has all of its best properties: Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars, to name just a few. It is Disney’s more “family-friendly” service, so don’t expect to see “Aliens” among its movies (the franchise has become Disney’s own with the FOX acquisition).
When it comes to its library, though, Disney+ falls behind its competitors. According to Disney.co.uk, the service currently has “more than 500 movies, 350 series and 26 exclusive originals”. Needless to say, though, that these are pretty exciting: 30+ Marvel movies, all Star Wars episodes, animated series, and the live-action “The Mandalorian”, over 20 Pixar features, The Simpsons, and many others. Besides, it comes with a library of National Geographic documentaries as well.
- £4.99 a month (6 streams at a time)
Apple TV+ is the tech giant’s first attempt to take a foothold in the media industry. So far, so good: its original programming is excellent. When it comes to the size of its content library, though, things are not that rosy: it currently has around 20 pieces of original content available and is working to license third-party content to show in the future. What makes it very attractive for Apple fans is its free year with the purchase of a new Apple device, an offer that can be redeemed within 90 days.
Among its best-known and highest-profile content, we find the Jason Momoa-led post-apocalyptic series “See”, the war drama “Greyhound” starring Tom Hanks, alternative history drama “For All Mankind”, and the upcoming high-profile science fiction series “Foundation” penned by David S. Goyer.