Let’s talk about streaming services!
It’s undeniable that the way in which we consume media has changed from enjoying ‘regularly scheduled’ programming, to having the ability to binge-watching entire seasons on a night in (phrases such as ‘Netflix and chill?’ have become commonly used in popular culture).
We now have access to a huge range of content, but most of it is locked behind subscriptions or additional paywalls.
During the COVID lockdown, 23% of people in Great Britain subscribed to a new Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) service, and from the beginning of 2021 to the beginning of 2022, the number of households with a subscription to a SVoD leapt from 18.8 million to 19.57 million.
There are loads of streaming services available in the UK, some are focused on UK content (such as Britbox), others offer a more niche experience (such as Crunchyroll for anime), some have a focus on bringing original content to their customers (like Netflix and more recently, Amazon Prime) – and others just provide access to regular content and catch-up options (such as BBC iPlayer).
There are some platforms that are free to use (providing you have an up-to-date TV license), others offer free trials or discounted ‘new customer’ benefits, and the rest want regular subscription payments. We’re going to have a look at what’s available, what it costs, and what it offers, so you can choose the best services for your preferred viewing and save yourself some money along the way!
What’s Your Choice? 20 Streaming Services Actually Available in the UK
|Platform||Upgrade / Extras|
|ITV Hub||ITV Hub+ £3.99 per month / £39.99 per year|
|Freevee (formally IMDb TV)||–|
|tvplayer||Premium subscriptions and packages available at cost (price dependant on package)|
|Crunchyroll||Premium upgrades (No Ads, HD quality, etc) available (price dependant on package)|
|Netflix||£6.99 per month up to £15.99 per month (dependant on package)||No|
|Disney+||£7.99 per month|
£79.90 per year
|Amazon Prime Video||£5.99 per month (Prime Video only)|
£7.99 per month (with Prime services)
£79 per year (including Prime services)
|NOW TV||£5 for the first 2 months|
£9.99 after first 2 months
Premium and package upgrades available (price dependant on package)
|britbox||£5.99 per month|
£59.99 per year
|All4||£3.99 per month||14 days|
|DAZN||£7.99 per month||Occasionally|
|Acorn TV||£4.99 per month||14 days|
|MUBI||£9.99 per month|
£95.88 per year
|Apple TV||£4.99 per month||7 days|
As you can see, there’s a lot of choice when it comes to streaming, and many of the subscription platforms provide free trial periods, so you can check for yourself whether the channel is going to be worth spending your money on – it’s important to check the details of the free trials, as some may require you to provide your card details, and automatically convert to a paid subscription if you don’t cancel the trial by a certain point – and if you’re not keeping note of when these dates are, you could end up being charged for a subscription that you might not actually want.
Why Are there So Many Streaming Platforms? How Do I Choose What I Actually Want?
It might be annoying, but as more content is produced, and some entertainment businesses decide to have a go at their own streaming services, more platforms become available. It does mean that it’s rare to find a single channel that covers exactly what you want to watch (unless you happen to be a particular sports fan [DAZN] or just want to watch anime [Crunchyroll], then you’re covered).
The tip here is to really think about what you enjoy watching, how many people in your household are likely going to want to watch (some of these services, such as Netflix, have restrictions on their packages for the number of people who can be connected at the same time), and whether you’re just putting it on for some background noise – or have a specific interest in the content.
For example: If you’re big into the Marvel or Star Wars universes, then Disney+ would have you covered, if you want to watch more ‘indie’ style original programming, then Netflix or Apple TV would be a good start, or if you wanted to watch old British programs – then Britbox would probably be your best bet.
How Can I Save Money when it Comes to UK Streaming Services?
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to try the free platforms first – if there’s enough content to cover your needs, then you don’t need to spend out on subscription services, or you could always augment it with the occasional rental (which we’ve not covered here, but platforms such as Sky Store don’t need a subscription to access and can allow for renting or purchasing).
If you’re interested in what the other streaming services in the UK are offering, we recommend starting with the ones that offer a free trial – sign up to them one or two at a time (there’s only so many hours in a day to watch the TV after all!) and make the most of the free content on offer (just remember what we said about keeping track of cancellation periods).
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, then it’s worth looking at the packages available. Some sites only have a single monthly subscription cost (which can often be cancelled at any time), others offer period packages (3 months, 6 months, 12 months) – these are often cheaper than the individual monthly cost – but only if you’re planning on using the service for that period of time; if you only want to watch a new series, and have no interest in anything else, a 12 month subscription might sound cheaper on a ‘divided by monthly cost’ basis, but if it takes you only a month to watch everything you want to see – you’re going to be out of pocket for the rest.
At the end of the day, you need to balance your needs, your viewing habits, and the amount of usage you think you’re going to get from this.
Good luck, and happy viewing!