We're in a golden age for TV. If you aren't already signed up to a streaming service you're missing out on some of the best shows ever made.
Yet with so many to choose from, all with their own range of unique content, it's hard to know where exactly to spend your money. Here's our guide to the best UK streaming services to help you decide.
- Price: from £5.99 a month, 30-day free trial
- Pros: A huge range of content, and by far the most and best original shows and movies; works on every device
- Cons: Non-original movie selection is not as good; you have to pay more for HD or 4K streaming
The biggest name in streaming has by far the biggest range of original content, from TV shows like The Crown, The Witcher and Better Call Saul, to Oscar-nominated movies like The Irishman. There's heaps of classics to binge on as well - this is the place to get your fix of Friends.
It's great for kids, while the ingenious recommendation system constantly suggests new things you'll love based on what you've already watched. If you're new to streaming, this is the one to try.
Netflix is available on pretty much every device, including streaming sticks, smart TVs, and even your Sky Q box.
Amazon Prime Video
- Price: £7.99 a month or £79 per year, 30-day free trial
- Pros: Cheap, and especially good value as part of the full Prime package; a growing number of exclusives; live sport
- Cons: Not many major hits; no user profiles
Amazon Prime Video is available on a monthly basis, but is best value when bought as part of the whole Prime package. That gives you a heap of extras, like free postage on Amazon purchases, access to music streaming, a monthly selection of Kindle ebooks, and much more.
Prime Video is getting an ever expanding range of Originals and exclusive films and shows, including The Grand Tour and the Star Trek spin-off Picard. The company has also started dipping its toes into the world of live sport. The recommendation engine isn't up to the level of Netflix, and it doesn't support separate user profiles, so you'll be sharing your watchlist with the rest of the family.
Amazon Prime Video is perhaps best used on an Amazon Fire Stick, but it's also available on many smart TVs, games consoles, or whatever other device you use.
- Price: £8.99 for Entertainment, £11.99 for Movies, £3.99 for kids, 7-day free trial
- Pros: The only way to watch Sky without a subscription; packed with exclusive TV and Hollywood blockbusters
- Cons: Expensive if you subscribe to all the Passes; not full HD as standard
NOW TV is the only way to watch Sky TV channels without either a dish or a lengthy contract. It offers several Passes, including Entertainment, Movies, Kids and Sports, and you get a short trial period for all of them. The service works on most streaming devices, and is offered on some smart TVs.
The movie selection, from Sky Cinema, is excellent, and perhaps the best way to get the most recent releases without paying for them individually. The Entertainment Pass, meanwhile, is the only way to watch shows like The Walking Dead or Westworld without a Sky sub.
One big downside is that it's a little pricier than its rivals, and considerably so if you want more than one Pass. Also, the picture quality is not full HD - let alone 4K. You have to pay even more for a NOW TV Boost to unlock a higher resolution.
- Price: £5.99 a month, 30-day free trial
- Pros: A dream for lovers of classic British telly; generous free trial
- Cons: A lot of boxsets are not complete; some shows are available on other services for free
BritBox is a collaboration between the BBC and ITV to make a large number of their classic shows available to stream for the first time. It has the largest number of UK TV boxsets on any provider, and they're also expanding into original content soon, with the return of Spitting Image.
BritBox is great for bingeing on TV comfort food like Midsomer Murders, or rediscovering forgotten classics like Our Friends in the North. It's a refreshing alternative to the very US-centric content of the other streaming services.
It isn't as widely available as some, though. You can watch on a Fire Stick or Apple TV, as well as phones, tablets and a web browser. Smart TV support is much more limited for now.
- Price: £5.99 a month or £59 per year, 7-day free trial
- Pros: Home to many of the biggest movie brands of all time; supports seven user profiles and four screens
- Cons: Content range is limited - no shows geared towards adults
It's easy to overlook just how much of the mainstream entertainment landscape is now owned by Disney. Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel - in fact, they were responsible for eight of the ten highest grossing films of 2019.
Disney+ is the company's brand new streaming service, bringing all of this content along with the classic Disney cartoons and some new shows, like The Mandalorian. It's a very family friendly service. There's bags of stuff specifically for kids, and you can create user profiles for them, but not so much just for adults.
You can watch Disney+ on most devices, including Fire Stick, phones and tablets, and some smart TVs (more are likely to be supported as the service becomes established in the UK).
- Price: £4.99 a month, 7-day free trial
- Pros: A lower monthly price than other services; integrates with your existing iTunes purchases
- Cons: Not much content yet; no older shows or films
Another fairly new entrant to the market, Apple TV+ only has original content right now. The most well received of the new programmes is The Morning Show, while the reception for the others has been rather mixed. There's a lot more in production, though, so even if the service isn't a must-buy right now, that may change in the near future.
You can watch Apple TV+ on computers, iOS devices (not Android), games consoles and Apple TV. You also get a free year's subscription when you buy a new Apple device.
Free Streaming Services
If you don't want to pay out lots for TV and film streaming, don't forget that many UK TV channels have their own apps offering catch-up TV, boxsets and live streaming:
- BBC iPlayer: includes the streaming-only BBC Three, plus live TV, catchup and a wide range of boxsets like Line of Duty and Fleabag
- ITV Hub: live TV and catchup shows from the four ITV channels, with ad breaks
- All 4: live TV and catchup, plus 270 boxsets including Peep Show, ER and The Inbetweeners. Includes ad breaks
- My5: 21 channels of catchup TV and boxsets from Channel 5 and the internet service Pluto TV
- UKTV Play: catchup and over 100 boxsets from Dave, Yesterday and Drama
Pay as you go streaming
You can also forego the monthly subscription and just buy or rent what you want as you want it. This is the best way to watch the latest movie releases, which usually become available for rental long before they hit any other streaming service.
The big players here include:
- iTunes: also integrates with an Apple TV+ sub
- Amazon: watch films on your Fire Stick or other Prime-compatible streaming device
- Rakuten TV: available on many smart TVs, including those from LG, Samsung and Sony
- Google Play: watch on a TV via a Chromecast streaming dongle, or on your phone or tablet
Interested in adding premium TV to your broadband bundle? Read our guide on how much money you can save.