With so many video streaming services available, it can be hard to decide which is best. We've done some of the hard work for you, and compared the major providers out there.

Much in the same way music streaming services are replacing CDs, video streaming services are fast becoming the new way to watch your favourite movies or binge on the latest TV programmes.

Figures show that video-on-demand subscription services in 2013 were up 120 per cent on the previous year, representing the fastest-growing sector across all online home entertainment categories. 

Other figures show global video on demand service revenue to be approximately €24.26bn (£19.3bn), which is expected to rise to €29.8bn (£23.52bn) in 2014.  

Netflix claims it has a user base of 50 million and recently posted record profits of £42m for the three months ending 30th June, showing the demand for instant video streaming is increasing at a significant rate. 

As with any developing industry though, there's several services to choose from. Some offer the largest catalogue, others offer higher video and sound quality, while some have greater compatibility across platforms. 

We've tried, tested and compared all the major video streaming services so you can decide which is the best one for you.

 

Best on-demand streaming service

Google Play

Five stars

£various

The Google Play Store has it all: apps, music, games, books and video. An on-demand service, users are just required to pay for what they watch, whether it be renting or purchasing forever.

Google's library is rather large. New release films and TV shows are available on the same day, and older titles are well represented too. 

You can access the Google Play Store from virtually any device and some HD titles are available in 1080p resolution with 5.1 surround sound.

As far as on-demand services go, Google Play is simply the best: great catalogue, good compatibility and incredibly easy to use.

MORE: Read our full Google Play review

Best subscription streaming service

Netflix

Five stars

From £5.99 per month

It's highly likely that when you think of a video streaming service, you'll think of Netflix. And with good reason too: it currently has 50 million international users resulting in $1.2bn (£702m) of revenue in 2013.

It has a massive catalogue of films and TV shows, as well as its own Netflix Original content, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black

Couple this with fantastic compatibility - we struggled to find something that didn't have a Netflix app - and Full HD programming with 5.1 surround and you've got yourself the perfect package.

Our only niggle is that films could be more up-to-date.

MORE: Read our full Netflix review

 

 

 

 

Best alternative on-demand services

Blinkbox Movies

Four stars

£various

Tesco seems to have its fingers in several different pies at the moment, so we're not surprised to see a video streaming service from the retail giant. 

Blinkbox works in similar fashion to Google Play: pay for what you watch, rentals last 30 days or 48 hours once you start watching. Purchases are kept in a digital locker 'forever'. Films are available on the same day they're released as physical version and occasionally there can be films on offer, before they're released in shops.

Platform compatibility is good, but Blinkbox isn't available on smartphones. On the whole, Blinkbox is a great service, but it only streams in up to 720p quality and with stereo sound. 

If picture and sound aren't your main priorities, but the latest releases are, Blinkbox should warrant your attention.

MORE: Read our full Blinkbox Movies review

More after the break

iTunes Store

Four stars

£various

We'd be very surprised if you hadn't heard of iTunes with it being available on Mac, PC and iOS for many, many years. 

It works in the same way as other on-demand services on our list and has a good catalogue of content. However big TV titles such as Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones are all missing. 

Apple does claw some points back for offering iTunes Extra content in the form of interviews and documentaries - only available with selected titles though.

Video and sound quality is Full HD with Dolby Digital 5.1 but it's the limited compatibility that lets it down. It's all part of Apple's ecosystem, but compared to open nature services such as Google Play, it feels limited.

MORE: Read our full iTunes Store review

Amazon Prime Instant Video

Four stars

On-demand £13.99/Subscribe from £5.99 per month

Amazon Prime Instant Video has undergone a few name changes recently after starting out as LoveFilm. 

Amazon now gives users a choice between a subscription based service, or on-demand - there is still LoveFilm by post for those who'd rather have physical copies of films and TV shows.

Content variety is up there with the very best, although big titles such as Game of Thrones is only available as an on-demand, pay-per-view option. 

Video and sound quality are top notch: Full HD 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1 and one account can stream to two devices at the same time, although this will need to be individual content. 

Unfortunately there's no Android support at the moment, otherwise Prime Instant is available on a wide range of devices.

With a free one-month trial on offer, it's worth an audition.

MORE: Read our full Amazon Prime Instant Video review

 

 

 

 

Best alternative subscription service

Now TV

from £4.99

Four stars

Now TV offers non-Sky subscribers the chance to access some of Sky's high quality content. It works in a different way to Netflix and Amazon; instead of having one, extensive library of content to watch, you're required to pay for 'passes' to grant access to various categories: Sky Sports Day Pass; Sky Movies Month Pass or Sky Entertainment Month Pass.

Each category has a generous amount of content to choose from, and being Sky, you're treated to some of the very best programming available. What's more, you can access live TV to essentially give you a regular Sky package without the heavy costs of a regular Sky subscription.

We do wish a number of improvements were made though. The interface and search need an overhaul, and content is only streamed in up to 720p - on TV only - with stereo sound. Adverts can tend to pop up too.

Negative points aside and Now TV is a great, affordable alternative to the bigger names in our list.

MORE: Read our full Now TV review

 

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