Best video streaming services Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best video streaming services you can buy in 2019.
We've looked at the best catch-up TV apps and on-demand movie and TV services, to find out which delivers the best performance-per-pound value, based on usability, content and cost. And our verdict is...
Netflix offers everything you could want from a video streaming service: it's beautifully simple, available on almost any device and packed with exclusive TV series' such as The Crown as well plenty of 4K content including Breaking Bad (there's also a smattering of HDR content. If 5.1 audio is available, Netflix will automatically serve it up. Many shows can be downloaded to your tablet or smartphone so you can binge-watch offline.
Subscription plans start at £5.99 per month for standard-definition streams but it's working paying £7.99 for the HD streams. Access to 4K streams will set you back £9.99 per month. With an excellent choice of 4K content and so many platform-exclusive hits, there's really no downside to splashing out on Netflix – it's superb value for money.
Read the full review: Netflix
It's hard to find fault with BBC iPlayer. It offers a great choice of high-quality TV shows and its free (although you'll need TV licence to watch catch-up and live TV legally). The dynamic 'grid' layout makes it easy to rifles through the Beeb's line-up, from light entertainment such as Masterchef to Sir David Attenborough's award-winning nature docs. The iPlayer app looks great on mobile devices too.
The majority of current shows are available in HD and most are downloadable for offline viewing. BBC HD (720p) content is crisp and detailed enough on smartphones, but it looks particularly engaging on bigger screens. Given that the licence fee amounts to less than 40p a day, iPlayer is the best catch-up service out there.
Read the full review: BBC iPlayer
Prime Video is a great-value service and you'll find that it's built into a wide range of TVs and mobile devices. There's plenty of televisual and cinematic treats to binge on, including over 100 seasons of TV shows in 4K (many are also available in HDR). Amazon's roster of 'original' content isn't quite as compelling at Netflix's, but there's plenty of choice including The Grand Tour, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Bosch.
Unlike Netflix, Amazon doesn't charge extra to access 4K content. The £5.99 per month option grants unlimited access to the Prime Video catalogue. Or shell out £7.99 per month for Prime Video with full Amazon Prime Membership (ad-free music streaming, free one-day delivery, etc).
Whether you want an hour's entertainment or a long-haul marathon, Prime Video will slake your thirst. That said, if you're not already part of the Amazon ecosystem, Netflix is the better all-rounder.
Read the full review: Amazon Prime Video
The Google Play store is a one-stop shop for apps, games, music and video. It's not the most exciting-looking interface, but provides a simple and effective on-demand service. There’s no need to pay monthly subscription fees: you buy or rent films and TV shows as and when the mood takes you.
Purchases are kept in your account ‘forever’, while rentals expire in 30 days (or 48 hours once you start watching). You can buy a HD film for around £9.99 or rent one in standard definition for around £3.49. Recent film releases, such as Avengers: Endgame, are joined by must-see TV shows from likes of Sky and HBO.
If you're a casual viewer, this well-stocked library will keep you happy without tying you down to a monthly subscription.
Read the full review: Google Play
Like Google Play, Apple iTunes Store is an entertainment hub packed with music and games, as well as the latest films and TV shows. There's no monthly subscription fee: you rent or buy as and when you fancy. The slick carousel design makes browsing for your next binge-watch enjoyable, and some new releases are available before they DVD. There's also a decent selection of 4K films, priced from £9.99 to buy.
The iTunes Store isn't as widely available as competitors. Until recently, it was only available though computers, iOS devices and Apple TV. If you’ve bought into Apple’s whole ecosystem, it makes perfect sense. For newcomers, however, Google Play is far more welcoming.
Read the full review: Apple iTunes Store
Read the full review: Now TV Smart Box