If you’re looking for something good to watch on the box, your best bet is to head online. But how do you choose between NOW TV, Amazon Prime and Netflix?
Let’s face it, other than a dozen or shows a year, TV schedules are full of movies you’ve already seen and programmes you don’t really care about. Luckily there are some fantastic options online. In fact, you’ll probably be faced with too much choice!
Through deals, tricks and cheats, I’ve currently got all three of these streaming services so it’s a good time to weigh up which is best. Here’s what I think, plus the ways to get them for less.
Best for TV
There’s not much to chose between them all, but my number one pick is NOW TV entertainment. It’s the cheapest way to watch Sky Atlantic shows such as Game of Thrones and Westworld, and also gives me access to The Walking Dead on Fox, The Americans on ITV Encore and Modern Family on Sky One.
Netflix has a huge range of new exclusive dramas and comedies, as well as a huge box set back catalogue. House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are my favourite shows from the last few years.
Amazon Prime has generally been the weakest for new programmes, but that’s changed in the last couple of years. The Man in the High Castle, Mr Robot and Mozart in the Jungle are all fantastic. It’s also shelled out a fortune to bring Jeremy Clarkson and co along for The Grand Tour.
Whichever you pick, I don’t think you can go wrong. You’ll always find something great to watch.
Scores out of 10 for TV choice
- Amazon Prime – 10/10
- Netflix – 10/10
- NOW TV – 10/10
Best for films
It’s a different story for films.
NOW TV’s film pass is essentially Sky Cinema (formerly Sky Movies). It has the largest number of recent releases, and plenty of classics. They’ve often also got all the Disney pics, Harry Potter films, and Star Wars movies (useful if you want a catch up before or after The Last Jedi). The problem is you need a separate subscription from the Entertainment pack so it could get expensive if you want both.
Netflix and Amazon Prime both have a lot of rubbish. And I mean a lot. But both are pretty good for smaller independent movies, including last year’s Oscar winner Moonlight (Amazon).
Scores out of 10 for film choice
- Amazon Prime – 7/10
- Netflix – 5/10
- NOW TV – 8/10
Best for extras
NOW TV lets you stream film and TV, and that’s it.
Amazon Prime however has a bunch of extra features worth considering. The best is you can download the videos to your phone or tablet, letting you watch when you don’t have any wifi.
You also get access to Amazon Prime Music (like Spotify), a Kindle lending library, 2 hour delivery with Amazon Prime Now and free next day delivery, even if the item is under £20.
And Netflix has just announced you can download certain programmes, which is a big bonus!
Scores out of 10 for extras
- Amazon Prime – 8/10
- Netflix – 6/10
- NOW TV – 0/10
Best for free trials
The good news is all of them offer a free trial!
>> Get a 14 day NOW TV entertainment free trial
>> Get a 14 day NOW TV Sky Movies free trial
>> Get a 30 day Amazon Prime Instant Video free trial
>> Get a 30 day Netflix free trial
These are all once per person, though you can repeat the Amazon trial after 12 months, while Netflix often sends email offers for another trial. NOW TV sadly only has one 14-day free trial for each package.
The best way to get value from these is to do one at a time, giving you three months of free films and TV. If you’ve housemates or family living with you, there’s no reason they can’t sign up after to get another three months.
Scores out of 10 for free trials
- Amazon Prime – 9/10
- Netflix – 8/10
- NOW TV – 6/10
Best for price
This section was a big reason for the update to the article as NOW TV and Netflix have both increased prices in 2017.
- Amazon Prime price: £79 a year, though this includes extras such as free next day delivery
- Netflix price UK: starts at £5.99 a month, rising to £7.99 for two screens and HD, then £9.99 a month for four screens and Ultra HD
- NOW TV entertainment price: £7.99 a month
- NOW TV movies price: £9.99 a month
I think you’re wasting money if you pay full price for more than one. There’s no way you’ve time to properly utilise each service if you’re flicking between them – and hey, box sets are built to binge! There are some tricks though – see below.
However I’ve rated them all the same as ideally you won’t be paying full price. Which leads us on to deals!
Scores out of 10 for price
- Amazon Prime – 6/10 (for annual subscription)
- Netflix – 6/10
- NOW TV – 5/10 (as a combined price)
Best for deals
I’m yet to see any money off Netflix, though you can sometimes get free passes via other purchases (eg TalkTalk and Vodafone). You can also choose different prices packages which let you choose how many users can log in at the same time. This allows you to share with family and friends and split the costs. See my cash hack to saving through sharing for more info.
Amazon Prime is available at a discounted price from time to time, and I’ll list these on my Amazon deals page when they happen. However there is a trick to get six months free, then three years for half price. We actually had six months on my account and then six months on Becky’s, meaning we’ve had the full Prime service for a year!
NOW TV, on the other hand, is usually available cut price. I regularly update my NOW TV deals page with the latest offers, but my faves include half-price for three months, free credit with a Google Chromecast and reduced multi-month passes with a free NOW TV box. However these deals haven’t been as good or prevalient in the last few months as normal.
To give you an idea of how much you could save, here what I’ve paid in the last year.
- NOW TV entertainment – 3 months for £12.50 (sale); 3 months free (Chromecast credit); 6 months for £19 (offer). Total 12 months for £31.50, or £2.63 a month, saving £57.92.
- NOW TV Sky Cinema – two months free; two months for £11 (via Zeek), averaging £2.75 a month for four months. Total saving £39
- Netflix – 12 months split cost with my sister costing me £44.94 and saving £44.94
- Amazon Prime Instant Video – one year for £39, saving £40.
Total savings £182!!
Scores out of 10 for available deals
- Amazon Prime – 8/10
- Netflix – 2/10
- NOW TV – 8/10
Easiest to watch on your TV
There are a few options here.
My top choice is a Google Chromecast. You simply plug this in the HDMI of your tv and you can stream from your device without any wires. This works for Netflix and NOW TV apps on your phone and tablet but not Amazon Prime. All three work via the Chrome browser, though I find Prime a bit jumpy. My Chromecast deals page has the latest offers.
I’ve also got an Amazon Fire Stick, which lets you watch Prime and Netflix, but not NOW TV. This comes with some fun games, though you have to pay for the full versions.
For NOW TV I tend to use the boxes which came free with monthly passes. These are pretty good and also have iPlayer, All 4 and ITV players built in.
You’ll also be able to watch some through your TV or digital box, though it varies according to manufacture. My Sony TV has an Amazon Prime player and my Youview box has NOW TV (movies only), while my parents’ Panasonic has Netflix.
You can of course just connect your laptop to your TV with a cable.
Scores out of 10 for watching on your TV
- Amazon Prime – 5/10
- Netflix – 8/10
- NOW TV – 7/10
Overal scores out of 10
- Amazon Prime – 53/10
- Netflix – 45/10
- NOW TV – 44/10
So the scores show a clear win for Amazon Prime – and that’s thanks to the Amazon Student trick and offline viewing – but it does have less in terms of must-see TV.
Netflix lost points as there are very few deals available so the only real way to save is to share your subscription costs. But if you can do that it becomes more affordable, and I think this has the best back catalogue of TV shows.
NOW TV, on the other hand, does have my favourite “can’t miss” shows each week and can be picked up very cheap if you get the right deals.
So really I think it comes down to want you fancy watching and what you’re willing to pay.
If I was forced to only have one it would be NOW TV for shows like Game of Thrones is on Sky Atlantic and The Walking Dead on Fox, but there are amazing shows on each streaming service.
If you’re still not sure, maybe this simple breakdown will help:
- The biggest selection of the latest movies – NOW TV Movies
- The big American shows the day after the states – NOW TV entertainment
- The best classic box sets – Netflix
- Extra services – Amazon Prime
- Watching offline – Amazon Prime or Netflix