Streaming is going to get more expensive. Here’s what is happening and my take on which offers the best value for money.
If you sign up to Netflix or Disney+ (or both), you’re set to pay an extra £12 to £24 a year on each service over the coming months.
New Netflix users will already be paying the increased prices, while existing users will be told soon about when their monthly fee will change.
The changes to Disney + will begin on 23rd February 2021 – though you’ll get a lot more content for the money.
Here’s a look at the changes, how they compare to other streaming services, and ways to pay less.
Watch my comparison of the different streaming services
Netflix price increases
- Basic – staying at £5.99 a month
- Standard – Up by £1 to £9.99 a month
- Premium – Up by £2 to £13.99 a month
These are already active for new customers, and I think for also anyone moving between packages. On our account, the existing Standard rate is still at £8.99, but the Premium is showing at £13.99.
The new prices are simply increases to what you pay. There’s no change to what you get from each level.
Disney Plus price increases
- Monthly – Up by £2 to £7.99 a month
- Annual – Up by £20 to £79.90 a year
These changes will come into effect on 23rd February 2021.
However, you are going to get a lot more content for your cash.
For a start, it’s an exciting time for Star Wars and Marvel fans with a load of original TV series announced.
In 2021 three Marvel shows (WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki) will feature actors from the movies. Plus from Star Wars, Ewan McGregor returns as Obi-Wan. And there’s plenty more in 2022 for both franchises.
There’s also a new bundle of content that will be added under the ‘Star’ brand. This will contain more adult orientated TV and films, which can be locked under parental controls.
Though it’s yet to be confirmed, and some of it will depend on whether existing services already have the rights, expect to see programming produced by ABC (eg Modern Family), FX (eg The Americans) and Century Fox (eg X-Men and Die Hard).
How these prices compare
The main paid for competitors are Now TV, Amazon Prime, Britbox and Apple TV+.
- Now TV entertainment pass – £9.99 a month
- Now TV Sky Cinema pass – £11.99 a month
- Amazon Prime Video – £5.99 a month, or £7.99 a month £79 a year with full Prime
- Britbox – £5.99 a month or £59.99 a year
- Apple TV + – £4.99 a month
Which streaming service is the best value for money?
Best for price
In terms of the price you pay for what you get, then I’d say Amazon Prime Video at £5.99 is pretty decent. Though it doesn’t necessarily have as many new “must-see” shows, there’s still plenty to keep you going, and a number of films that you won’t see elsewhere. If you also use other services with the full Prime it effectively works out even cheaper.
But it is possible though to get NOW TV for less if you take advantage of special offers and deals. If you can get cheaper passes it can work out lower than all the other options.
For example I recently picked up five Now TV sticks, each with an entertainment, movie and day sports pass for around £80 through a combination of discounted prices, voucher codes and cashback. I then sold the sticks for £10 each to CEX, leaving me with £160 worth of passes for £30. Bargain.
However, I think two of the best services for streaming are free. Both iPlayer and All 4 have hundreds of quality comedy and drama. Lots of people ignore these without really looking at the back catalogue. It’s worth checking out
Winner (full price): Amazon Prime Video
Winner (via offers): Now TV
Winner (free): iPlayer
Best for content
Every time I’m recommended a show by a friend, or read about a new film I want to see, I make a note on my phone, and break it down by streaming service. The longest list by a decent amount is Netflix.
The constant flow of original productions, both series and movies, means there’s always something to watch, along with a strong back catalogue. There’s enough there that you won’t ever need another service.
But of course, sometimes there’s a show you just have to see but it’s on another platform. That used to be Now TV’s Entertainment pass. But with favourite shows like Game of Thrones and Modern Family now finished, and WestWorld and The Walking Dead losing their appeal, that’s no longer the case. In fact, in 2020 I think we had this pass for just two or three months.
Taking its place is Disney+. If you are a Marvel or Star Wars fan, or have kids, then it’s a must have. And the addition of Star in 2021 should give access to some more grown-up content too.
Another shout out here for iPlayer. DNA and Ghosts were two of my top shows of late 2020, and there’s plenty more too.
By the way, if you want to see what is available where, check out the Just Watch website and app.
Winner (paid): Disney+ and Netflix (tie)
Winner (free): iPlayer
If you already have and make the most of Amazon Prime then Prime Video is essentially free. Which is also true of iPlayer (as long as you pay the licence fee). So both can be fantastic value for money.
But if you’re paying full whack just for a service, when you look at price and content combined, I’d say the best value for money is Disney+. Though a lot of that will depend on what is on the new Star option.
But it is still incredibly close, and if you don’t need HD or multiple accounts the basic version of Netflix is a steal at £5.99 a month.
Runner up: Netflix
Runner up: Amazon Prime Video (if you already want and need the full Prime service)
My top ways to pay less
Look for deals
Ok, an obvious one, but if you can pay less for a pass, as I did with my recent Now TV deal stacking, then it’s a great way to save.
These offers come and go, so check out these deal pages for the latest offers when I spot them:
Binge and swap
There’s no way you can get the most of every service at the same time. At a push you might be able to justify two, but I think you’ll get the best value from one at a time.
Focus on the shows you want to watch on that platform, and when you’ve had enough you cancel your monthly payment and move to the next one. And so on.
Let’s assume you can watch everything you need to in three months a year per main service. So three months of Amazon Prime Video, three months of NOW TV Entertainment, three months of Netflix Standard and three months of Disney +. Paying full price each month would mean you pay £101.88 a year. That’s less than a year of Netflix’s standard plan.
This obviously requires you to cancel one when you’re done with it, and restart another. But this is very simple with each service, and can be done with a few clicks. You’ll probably want to put a note in your diary to remind yourself to do it.
And don’t forget, you’ll still have access to iPlayer, All 4 and other free streaming services if you are stuck for things to watch.
Only pay for what you need
It’s tempting to upgrade NOW TV to full HD and Netflix to 4K quality, but I’d caution against it. Though it can make a difference, I’d argue you’d hardly notice it.
Likewise, an extra £2 a month to move to full Amazon Prime seems to make sense, but if you do this you will spend more money at Amazon – something I and many others are trying to avoid.
Plus annual discounts are great if you absolutely will watch things all year round. But if you are willing to switch throughout the year, you’ll likely be better off paying just for the months you use.
Finally, it’s possible to share your account details with all the main services. Do this and split the costs to save more money.
There can be limits of how many times you can do this and how many people can watch at once. And of course, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. I’ve got more details in my article on sharing streaming passwords and accounts.