Skip to main content

Best video streaming services 2019: Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer?

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...

(Image credit: Netflix)

1. Netflix

Best for binge-watching and 4K video streaming

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: 4K, HDR, offline viewing | Availability: Desktop and mobile

Reasons to Buy

4K available
Big catalogue
Increasingly impressive bespoke programming
Multiple platform support

Reasons to Avoid

Not always first with latest film releases

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

Best video streaming services 2019: Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer?

(Image credit: BBC)

2. BBC iPlayer

A wealth of (free) high quality content

SPECIFICATIONS

Streaming quality: SD, HD | Cost: Free (to households with a TV licence)

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

Best video streaming services 2019: Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer?

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

3. Amazon Prime Video

A great value streaming service offering 4K

SPECIFICATIONS

Streaming quality: SD, HD, 4K, HDR, HDR10+ | Cost: From £6 per month

Reasons to Buy

Competitively priced
4K titles included in price
Original content 
Vast device support

Reasons to Avoid

Limited Atmos and HDR10+ integration
Format tagging could be improved

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

Best video streaming services 2019: Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer?

(Image credit: Google Play)

4. Google Play

A great video streaming service that gets the essentials right

Reasons to Buy

Good catalogue
Lovely interface
Up to 1080p resolution and 5.1 surround sound

Reasons to Avoid

Platform support could be better
Many purchases only have stereo sound

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

Best video streaming services 2019: Netflix, Amazon Prime or BBC iPlayer?

(Image credit: Apple)

5. Apple iTunes Store

Reasons to Buy

Up to 1080p and 5.1 surround sound
Shiny interface
good film catalogue

Reasons to Avoid

TV offering could be better
Limited platform support

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

(Image credit: Now TV)

Read the full review: Now TV Smart Box

https://www.whathifi.com/reviews/now-tv-smart-box-review