TV and film on demand guide: which service should you choose?

Compare Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Blinkbox, iTunes, NOWTV and Wuaki.tv with our handy guide

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TV and film on demand guide: which service should you choose?
Written By
Ellie Walker-Arnott

Delving into the world of on demand can be a little confusing, especially when it means forking out that hard-earned cash.

But never fear, when it comes to choosing your pay streaming service, we're here to help you answer those all important questions. 

Do you need to subscribe? How much will it set you back? What's a NOWTV box? If you buy Disney's Frozen will you own it FOREVER? Where can you find House of Cards?

Whichever provider you choose you'll be binging on boxsets before you can say Breaking Bad...


Netflix, On demand

Do you have to subscribe?

Yes.

How much does it cost?

£5.99 a month.

What do you get?

Unlimited access to thousands of films and TV series to stream.

Original content?

Yes. Netflix boasts original series like House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development, as well as shows like Breaking Bad which haven’t aired on TV in the UK.

Free trial?

Yes. You can try the service for one month.

Adverts?

No.

What can you watch it on?

Your smart TV or using a PS3, Wii, Xbox 360 or any other Netflix enabled device. You can also watch Netflix on any android, windows or Apple smart phone or tablet. And on your computer. You must be connected to the internet, though.  

Parental controls?

You can set controls on individual profiles to four maturity levels, or make a “kid friendly” profile for children under 12.


iTunes, On demand

Do you have to subscribe?

No, but you do need to download iTunes and sign up for an Apple ID to use the service.

So how does it work?

You can rent or buy films and TV series. When it comes to TV, you can buy individual episodes or entire series – or you can purchase a series pass which gets you every episode as it airs on TV. If you rent a film you have 30 days to start watching – and 48 hours to finish it once you press play.

You can watch purchased content anytime again and again – and you don't need to be connected to the internet to do so. 

How much does it cost? 

Prices vary, but buying an episode of a TV series costs around £1.89 while film rental starts at around £3.49. 

What do you get?

Access to new releases and thousands of films and TV series. 

Original content?

No. 

What can you watch it on?

Your computer, iPad, iPhone, iPod or Apple TV.

Free trial?

No. But the iTunes store does sometimes offer free episodes or films.

Adverts?

No.

Parental controls?

No. But you can set up parental controls on Apple products to restrict access to certain types of content or for content with certain ratings.  


Amazon Prime Instant Video, on demand, tv film

Do you have to subscribe? 

No. You can rent or buy movies and TV shows from Amazon without a subscription.

But you can subscribe? 

Yes.

How much does it cost?

£5.99 a month (or £6.99 if you want unlimited discs by post, too.)

What do you get?

A monthly membership gets you unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows to stream instantly.

Paying £6.99 also gets you LOVEFiLM unlimited rental discs by post, two at a time. If you sign up for an annual £79 prime membership, you also get one-day delivery on millions of Amazon items and you can borrow books from Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, too.

Original content? 

Yes. The service boasts Amazon Original Series like Betas and Alpha House as well as some content exclusive to Amazon Instant Video, like Vikings and Black Sails.

What can you watch it on?

Your Kindle Fire HC, iPad, iPhone, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, smart TV, set-top box and Blu-ray player from LG, Sony and Samsung. And on your computer, of course. If you are buying without a Prime subscription you can also download content for watching whilst offline.

Free trial?

Yes. 30 days.

Adverts?

No.

Parental controls?

You can apply a pin to authorise video purchases as well as set a restrict content on Instant Video by classification certificates.


blinkbox, on demand

Do you have to subscribe? 

No.

So how does it work? 

You can rent or buy films and TV series and watch them instantly without a monthly fee. Once you rent something you have 30 days to start watching – and 48 hours to finish it once you press play. Once you own something you can watch it again and again, as long as you are connected to the internet.

How much does it cost? 

Prices vary, but you can rent new film releases from £3.49 and buy episodes of TV series from £1.89.

What do you get?

Access to thousands of TV series and films. And lots of new releases. Often much more quickly than they become available on subscription services.

Original content? 

No. But blinkbox does offer some films and TV series before any other on-demand providers.

What can you watch it on?

Your computer, smart TV, set-top box, blu-ray player and tablet. You can only watch when you are connected to the internet.

Free trial?

Not really, though you can try the first episode of these shows before you commit to buying a whole series.

Adverts?

No.

Parental controls?

No.


Now TV, on demand, tv, film

Do you have to subscribe?

Yes, on a daily or monthly basis.

How much does it cost?

You can pay £9.99 for a NOWTV box and hook it up to your TV. Or you can access content through YouView or online. To access content you buy packages, so the Entertainment Month Pass starts at £4.99, the Sky Movies Pass starts at £8.99 and the Sports Day Pass costs £9.99. Both the movie and entertainment passes automatically renew unless you cancel them.

What do you get?

You can stream the latest movies or watch live events from Sky’s six sport channels. You can also watch pay TV channels like Sky1, Sky Atlantic, Disney and MTV live, catch up on current series or watch whole TV box sets from the beginning.

Original content?

No, but it gives you access to content on paid-for TV channels before it’s available anywhere else.

What can you watch it on?

A NOWTV box, LG Smart TV, YouView, Xbox 360, Roku or PS3, as well as android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad or your computer. You can register four devices and watch two at the same time, but you have to be connected to the internet. 

Free trial?

NOWTV offers a 30-day free trial for the Sky Movies package.

Adverts?

Only brief Sky teasers.

Parental controls?

You can set a parental pin to restrict access to different age certificates.


Wuaki.tv, on demand, tv, film

Do you have to subscribe?

No. You can rent and buy TV shows and films without paying membership fees. 

But you can subscribe?

Yes.

How much does it cost?

£5.99 a month.

What do you get?

Subscribing to Wuaki gives you unlimited access to a selection of TV series and films to stream. If you buy content outside of Wuaki Selection it will be available in your library for online streaming for three years, while rentals will be available for 48 hours.

Original content?

No.

What can you watch it on?

Your computer, Samsung, LG and Panasonic smart TVs, Xbox One, Xbox 360, android tablet, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, when you are connected to the internet. 

Free trial?

Yes. One month.

Adverts?

No.

Parental controls?

You can choose different levels of access based on age certificates. 


 


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