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Best streaming service 2022: Netflix vs Disney Plus vs Amazon Prime Video vs Now TV vs Britbox

Sherwin Coelho Rory Mellon
25 Feb 2021
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We're spoilt for choice when it comes to streaming services in the UK. But with so many options to choose from, which one is the best?

There's no dearth of streaming services to watch in the UK, but with so many options available at different prices, which ones are really worth your money? Below, we break down the pros and cons of the top five UK streaming services – namely Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Britbox.

Each of the services cater to slightly different audiences and are available at different price points – some even have a free trial that you can avail yourself of, while others don't. Read on to find out if you're getting your money's worth in terms of content, video quality, simultaneous device usage and offline content.

How to choose the best streaming service for you

What do you want to watch?

Regardless of what your interests are, you’re likely to find a service that suits your tastes. Looking for something for the entire family? Disney Plus and Now TV Kids have you covered. Nostalgic for some British sitcoms? Try Britbox. Want a great combination of movies, TV shows and original content? Look no further than Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Is there a free trial, and can I cancel at any time?

All streaming services – except Disney Plus – offer a free trial for new customers. This trial period length differs from service to service, from one week to one month. While all the streaming services require your UK bank account details when you first sign up, you will need to cancel the service within the first few days if you want to avoid being charged.

Most of the below streaming services have a monthly and a yearly plan. While a yearly plan works out cheaper in the long run, you won't be able to cancel at any time, so if you're unsure, opt for the free trial or monthly plan because this gives you more cancellation flexibility until you make up your mind. After you've made up your mind, you can always take a yearly subscription.

What devices can I watch on?

All five streaming services mentioned below work on multiple platforms – PCs, laptops and mobile devices, including phones or tablets. Most even have apps for Smart TVs and gaming consoles. Other ways to watch are via streaming sticks like the Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick, which are cheap ways to turn your old, bog-standard television into a Smart TV.

Can I download content to watch offline?

The ability to download content differs from service to service, but almost all streaming services offer the feature in some form. Services such as Disney Plus allow the platform’s entire catalogue to be downloaded for offline viewing, whereas Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV have the feature in a more limited capacity depending on what you intend to download offline.

Do I need a fast internet connection?

An average of 5Mbits/sec is recommended to stream content in Full HD (1080p). Considering the average internet download speed in the UK is around 30Mbits/sec, these requirements shouldn’t be a problem for most people. You can check your internet speed here quickly if you need to.

How much data does streaming use?

On average streaming in standard quality uses about 1GB of data per hour, whereas streaming in HD can use up to 3GB for the same duration. Watching a lengthy film in 4K (Ultra HD) however, can use more than double that data. Regardless of your mobile data plan, you should always download content offline on your home Wi-Fi network before you begin your commute.

The best streaming services in the UK this year

1. Netflix: Best overall

Price: From £5.99 | Subscribe to Netflix


The coronavirus pandemic has proved why no other streaming service comes close to competing with Netflix. Not only did it release fresh new content regularly in the last six months, but it also smartly purchased content that was on other platforms to popularise it on Netflix – namely Cobra Kai, previously available on YouTube, and BBC series, The Fall.

Since its UK launch in 2012, Netflix has pivoted its focus away from third-party content and towards original programming. From pop-culture smash-hits such as The Last Dance and Tiger King to new seasons that people wait to binge on such as Bridgerton, The Witcher and Stranger Things, the N logo used to denote a piece of Netflix original content in the services catalogue has quickly become synonymous with quality.

Apart from that, Netflix also seems to cater to regional content, often popularising regional shows and making them worldwide hits (we're looking at you, Money Heist). It's also the only place to watch every single episode of Friends and Big Bang Theory – two hit TV series that defined their respective generations.

On the film front, Netflix offers decent value as well. Its original films slate has dramatically improved after a rocky start. Recent hits include Oscar-nominees The Irishman and Marriage Story, and the service offers a decent, if slightly small, selection of well-known blockbuster hits, too. In terms of functionality, Netflix’s experience in the market shows, making it one of the most user-friendly and easy to navigate platforms around. Most of Netflix’s content is downloadable offline as well, including every single Netflix Original.

Our biggest gripe with Netflix is its prices, which tend to rise slowly every year. The Standard plan will set you back more than £100/year and this restricts you to HD-quality streams on two simultaneous devices. To unlock UHD content and streaming on four devices you need the Ultra plan which costs £144/year.

Netflix smartly proved why it is important to capitalise on an early advantage. It enticed people with films that are now taken off its platforms by other services like Disney Plus. However, in that time, it created great content of its own that people will gladly pay for because they’ve invested in great international and regional content.

Read our detailed Netflix review for more information

Key Specs - Free-trial: Yes, 30 days; HD content: On Standard and Ultimate Plans Offline downloads: Yes; Simultaneous users: Basic (1); Standard (2); Ultimate (4)

Subscribe to Netflix


2. Disney Plus: Best for kids and superhero fans

Price: £7.99/mnth or £79.90/year | Subscribe to Disney Plus


While Netflix has been scoring one hit after another since the pandemic hit, Disney Plus has been relying on their existing catalogue and five main brands - Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic - to gain loyal subscribers. The pandemic may have proved to be a blessing in disguise for Disney Plus because it had the answer that every homeschooling parent was looking for - lots of child-friendly content.

Disney had ambitious plans to release new content all throughout 2020 but the pandemic put a dent in their plans, allowing Netflix to take the lead. That said, the service has pulled up its socks in early 2021, especially with the addition of its sixth brand, Star, that instantly added over 75 TV shows and 280 movies to the platform overnight.

The launch of Star of Disney Plus brought with it beloved TV series like Lost, Modern Family, 24, Desperate Housewives and more. Movies include Braveheart, Moulin Rouge and The favourite, among others.

Alas, this addition came at a price because Disney also increased its subscription plans for UK subscribers, now making it more expensive than both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video's basic plan. For its features, though, we still reckon Disney Plus is great value for money at a single price point, rather than the sometimes-complicated models its competitors follow.

Disney Plus' biggest draw has undoubtedly been its Marvel and Star Wars content. At the moment, it's the only place where you can watch all the major Marvel movies and every Star Wars movie ever in stunning 4K - provided your TV supports UHD streaming, of course.

So it's not surprising that some of Disney's biggest TV series are spin-offs of those franchises, namely The Mandalorian and WandaVision.

The platform has been experimenting with premier access content for films like Mulan and Raya and the Last Dragon to understandably offset some of the production costs they would have retrieved had cinemas been open, but we're not sure how well these are doing. It's safe to assume that - unless it's a huge title - most people would much rather wait for three months to watch them for free on the platform.

Disney Plus is also now investing in original and regional (non-franchise based) content of its own. The first four original series came with the launch of Star and more are expected to follow later this year as Disney Plus plays catch-up with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in this department.

Read our detailed Disney Plus review for more information

Key Specs - Free-trial: No; HD content: Yes; Offline downloads: Yes; Simultaneous users: 4

Subscribe to Disney Plus


3. Amazon Prime Video: Best for content variety

Price: From £5.99/mnth | Subscribe to Amazon Prime Video


When it comes to diversity of content, Amazon Prime Video is unmatched. From smash-hit US television series, such as Grey's Anatomy and The Walking Dead, to a well-rounded collection of classic and contemporary movies, Prime’s catalogue has plenty worth watching.

The service has also recently ventured into broadcasting live sporting events, giving it a USP that no other streaming service can boast of. The service broadcast live coverage of the 2020 US Open tennis tournament and it also broadcasts select Premier League games in the UK. If Amazon can capitalise on expanding this part of its repertoire, then it will certainly stand out from the other streaming services on this list.

Prime Video has its own rapidly-expanding collection of original programming, and while some of them such as The Man in the High Castle and The Boys are worth your time, as a whole the quality of Prime Originals is a bit hit-and-miss, especially when you compare it to Netflix.

The service’s search functionality still needs work and its UI seems counter-intuitive, confusingly mingling free content with paid-for movies and channels. Thankfully, most content that’s available on Prime can be downloaded offline.

For £79/year, you get a full Amazon Prime subscription, which not only includes Prime Video, but also unlimited one-day delivery on thousands of products, music streaming through Prime Music, unlimited photo storage and several other benefits to boot, so we can’t really complain about Amazon Prime Video bundled at that price.

Read our detailed Amazon Prime Video review for more information

Key Specs - Free-trial: Yes, 30 days; HD content: Yes; Offline downloads: Yes; Simultaneous users: 3

Subscribe to Amazon Prime Video


4. Now TV: Best a-la-carte streaming service

Price: From £4/mnth | Subscribe to Now TV


Sky TV is the UK’s largest television subscription service, but it subjects you to installation fees and long-term contracts that can often end up costing you more than a few hundred pounds a year. Now TV is an a-la-carte version of the service, basically letting you access different types of Sky TV content on a monthly contract by purchasing specific passes.

There are five different passes:

  • Entertainment Pass
  • Sky Cinema Pass
  • Sky Sports Pass
  • Kids Pass
  • hayu Pass

The Now TV Entertainment Pass lets you watch over 300 box sets, including Watchmen, Gangs of London, Succession, Game of Thrones, Chernobyl and Curb Your Enthusiasm for £9.99/mnth. If you prefer watching movies instead, then the Now TV Sky Cinema Pass has over 1,000 movies for £11.99/mnth. Similarly, the hayu Pass and Kids Pass has over 5,000 episodes of reality TV and over 1,000 kids shows respectively. Both cost £4/month.

Now TV’s crown-jewel is the Now TV Sky Sports Pass, which has different tiers, ranging from the Mobile Monthly Pass at £6/mnth, to the Sky Sports Month Pass at an astronomical £34/mnth. However, it’s the only place where you can watch live broadcasts of the Premier League, EFL and even US sports like the NFL and NBA. It's also the only pass that does not include a free trial.

The drawback with Now TV is that you can only watch content in HD (720p) and on two devices at the same time. To watch it in HD (1080p) and upgrade to watching on three devices at the same time, you need to get Now TV Boost, which costs an additional £3/mnth. Unlike Disney Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Now TV doesn't broadcast content in 4K even if you have a compatible 4K TV.

Read our detailed Now TV review for more information

Key Specs - Free-trial: Yes, 7 days; HD content: Not unless you get Now TV Boost; Offline downloads: Yes; Simultaneous users: 2; 3 if you get Now TV Boost

Subscribe to Now TV


5. Britbox: Best for British content

Price: £5.99 | Subscribe to Britbox


The brainchild of BBC and ITV, Britbox is a joint streaming venture by the two biggest networks in the UK. For £5.99/month, the service gives you access to hundreds of BBC and ITV boxsets from classic comedies such as Absolutely Fabulous and Blackadder, to modern dramas including Broadchurch and Downton Abbey.

Britbox also features all six series of Love Island and over 600 episodes of classic Doctor Who, which is the first time they’ve ever been available to stream anywhere. BBC and ITV have extremely deep archives, so it's a shame that Britbox doesn’t delve into them a little more. Shows like Dad’s Army are curiously missing, and we feel the catalogue could, and really should, offer more.

Feature-wise Britbox is lagging behind the competition as well. There’s no option to download content for offload viewing, almost a necessity for streaming services at this point, and the lack of subtitles on much of the content will be a dealbreaker for some.

Britbox is promising a slate of original content in the coming months, the first offering will be a drama called Lambs of God, as well as series from Channel 4, so we definitely see a potential for this service in the future. There’s definitely still value to a Britbox subscription as it stands, by offering a stronger collection of British television than any of its competitors it’s by no means an unattractive proposition, even if a few key features are missing.

Read our detailed Britbox review for more information

Key Specs - Free-trial: Yes, 30 days; HD content: Yes; Offline downloads: No; Simultaneous users: 5

Subscribe to Britbox


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