It’s safe to say that when it comes to streaming services, Netflix remains the top of the pile for most viewers, and the platform has proved something of a godsend while we’ve all been stuck inside over the last year.
While a subscription remains excellent value for money, at the start of 2021 the service announced that it would be increasing its monthly fees for the first time since May 2019.
But what about the basics of the streaming platform? What is Netflix, how much does it currently cost, and how exactly do you sign up? We’ve answered all your questions below.
What is Netflix?
Netflix is a video streaming service. What that basically means is that as long as you have an internet connection, you can watch TV shows and movies without having to download them (though certain Netflix titles are available for download on certain devices, should you wish.)
You don’t buy individual series or films on Netflix. Instead, you pay a monthly subscription, which gives you access to everything available on the service.
The advantage is that you can go through the whole Netflix library, watch whatever catches your eye and never see a single advert. The disadvantage is that titles can be taken away, and you don’t actually own anything you’re watching.
Netflix releases almost all its TV series in one go. That means subscribers can watch whole series or movies at their own pace (or as long as they’re able to avoid spoilers): they can pause and come back later, or binge several episodes in one go. Unlike traditional broadcasters, there’s no waiting a week for new episodes.
How much does Netflix cost in the UK?
Netflix currently has three subscription plans with different prices. Users can choose which contract is right for them, but each one requires a monthly payment.
Netflix last raised its prices in January 2021. Below are the current Netflix UK subscription costs.
- £5.99 per month The cheapest membership allows subscribers to watch on one device at a time in standard definition
- £9.99 per month Standard subscription – Viewers can watch in HD and on two devices at a time.
- £13.99 a month Premium subscription – Viewers can watch in Ultra HD where available, on four devices at a time.
In announcing the most recent increase, Netflix released a statement which read, “This year we’re spending over $1bn [£736m] in the UK on new, locally-made films, series and documentaries, helping to create thousands of jobs and showcasing British storytelling at its best – with everything from The Crown, to Sex Education and Top Boy, plus many, many more.
“Our price change reflects the significant investments we’ve made in new TV shows and films, as well as improvements to our product.”
After a one month free trial, Netflix subscribers are automatically switched to the £9.99 per month package. Users can view or change their payment plan in their account settings. Go to ‘Change Plan‘ to find out more.
How to download on Netflix
Netflix also includes a download feature allowing subscribers to store some – but not all – programmes on their mobile devices and watch offline, ideal for when travelling or when you don’t have access to the internet.
Netflix is available in the UK, along with over 190 other countries. However, Netflix’s library of content varies by country, so what’s available in the UK isn’t always available in the US.
How to sign up to Netflix
Go to www.netflix.com and follow the instructions. Subscribers need a valid email address and a credit or debit card (but the first month for new customers is free). You create an account with your email and choose a password, and after that you can start watching.
Remember, Netflix also allows users to have up to five different profiles on one Netflix account. So if you’re looking into paying for a subscription, it may be worth seeing whether other family members or friends are willing to share the cost.
When you create a profile, your viewing activity is saved and Netflix’s recommendations are personalised to you. That means that different profiles will see different Netflix series promoted at the top of the library.
Profiles can also be set up for younger family members with specific parental controls, so if you’re concerned about children having access to adult shows, this is the best way to control what they’re able to see.
How to watch Netflix
After you’ve set up an account, simply sign in using your email and password to access the library. Netflix is available as an app on smartphones and tablets, or if you’re watching on the computer you can go to the Netflix website. To check whether your TV or set-top box has Netflix, click here.
To find TV shows and films to watch, either search the library to look for a title or pick from Netflix’s recommendations. The service claims to be able to ‘learn’ about its subscribers’ tastes based on what they watch, and recommend new programmes to watch next.
You can access your account on many different devices. For example, if you start watching a TV series on the train on your phone but have to stop before it’s over, when you get home Netflix will have remembered where you got to in the episode.
However, remember that your membership level determines the number of devices you’re able to watch Netflix on at the same time.
Can Netflix be used on multiple devices?
Netflix is available on pretty much any screen, tablet, device or games console. You can watch on your TV either through built-in apps, your set-top box or a cheap additional piece of technology. For a full list of supported devices, click here. You can watch on multiple devices as long as you have the right subscription. Standard and up include this.
What is good to watch on Netflix?
Netflix’s major selling point is its original TV shows, exclusive series that aren’t available anywhere else. It began with shows such as House of Cards, but now boasts everything from sci-fi hits like Stranger Things to big-budget shows such as The Crown and intriguing documentaries – including an impressive collection of true crime.
But subscribers don’t just have to stick to original material. There’s a hefty back catalogue which allow you to watch a variety of both British and US TV shows, featuring everything from BBC David Attenborough natural history series to recent dramas such as Peaky Blinders, Line of Duty and Doctor Who.
The catalogue is constantly refreshed, but that does mean you have to be wary of a show you’ve been planning to watch dropping off the service.
Are there any good alternatives to Netflix?