Video streaming means much more choice of what to watch and goodbye to TV schedules as you can watch what you want, when you want. You can even download some shows to watch offline on the train or on holiday.
If you’re trying to decide between Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV for your streaming needs, we’re on hand to help with our in-depth guide looking at things like price, supported devices, content, offline viewing and more.
What's the cheapest streaming service?
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV each offer free trials, with Netflix and Amazon giving a generous 30 days but Now TV limiting its trial to 7 days. You can go ahead and kick off your free trials by following the links below:
How much is Netflix?
Netflix’s pricing starts at £5.99 / $9 per month, but that doesn’t include HD or Ultra HD, and only allows you to watch on one screen at a time.
Increase that to the ‘Standard’ £7.99 / $13 per month subscription and you’ll get HD with the ability to stream to two devices at once. Premium is £9.99 / $16 per month, and comes with HD, Ultra HD and the ability to stream on up to four screens.
How much does Amazon Prime Video cost?
Amazon Prime Video is £5.99 / $8.99 per month, but you can sign up for Amazon Prime for £79 per year (or pay £7.99 per month) in the UK and $119 or $12.99 p/m in the US which also includes extras such as free next day delivery, Amazon Prime Music and more. Like with Netflix’s Standard package, you can stream to two devices at once.
Overall it's better value than Netflix, provided you order from Amazon fairly regularly and are happy with the video library on offer.
There are rumours that Amazon is working on a free ad-supported version of Prime Video, but for now nothing has been confirmed.
Now TV passes
Now TV works slightly differently. There's no option to sign up to a subscription that offers both movies and TV shows, so you’ll need to sign up to those individually. Also, Now TV is a UK only service, as those in the US markets have the likes of HBO which carry many of the same shows.
If you specifically want to watch reality TV, the £3.99 Hayu pass includes most of the biggest US shows, like Keeping up with the Kardashians or Real Housewives. There’s also a Kids Pass for £3.99 per month, and Sky Sports for £8.99 per day, £14.99 per week or £33.99 per month.
Here we’re just focusing on the Entertainment and Cinema passes from Now TV as they more closely reflect the content you’ll get from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, so if you add those together you’re looking at £19.98 per month for Now TV’s content.
What's the difference between Now TV, Amazon and Netflix?
You probably already know the basics, but we’ll sum them up here just in case.
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV are subscription-based media streaming services that you pay for monthly in return for unlimited streaming of TV shows and films. They’re accessible via the internet on smart TVs, games consoles, set-top boxes, desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices, and are regularly updated with new things to watch.
Netflix and Amazon Prime Video also include offline viewing, but both have limitations. Not all content is available to download, but the range is continuously growing for both services. You can find out more about how to download content by following the links below.
Now TV doesn’t currently allow downloading for offline viewing for any of its shows or movies and is unlikely to do so in the future.
Take a closer look at the differences and you’ll find that Netflix offers much better account features for anyone sharing their subscription. You can set up multiple accounts for different users to keep your recommendations and watch lists separate (see above), and there’s also a dedicated kids section for child-friendly content.
One key difference that can be tricky to get your head around to start with is that while everything you see in Netflix and Now TV is available to stream as part of your account, with Amazon's service only Prime Video content with a ‘Prime’ banner can be watched as part of the subscription. Other videos are available to watch but come at an additional cost to buy or rent.
Amazon does have the advantage of X-Ray, though, a very useful feature that lets you access information like the actors in a scene, background information and more from IMDb on-screen whenever you like.
It’s also worth noting that Now TV only offers a maximum of 720p (barely HD), while the Standard and Premium versions of Netflix will get you Full HD and 4K respectively and Amazon has 4K content included at no extra cost. This is a big downside for Sky's service and disappointing considering the price.
You’re probably thinking it’s an easy decision now right? After all, we’ve said that Amazon gives you more for your money than Netflix and Now TV do. But in reality, it also comes down to compatible devices and of course the available content on offer.
How can I watch Netflix, Amazon & Now TV?
To access Netflix, Amazon prime Video or Now TV, you’re going to need a compatible device. That could be a smart TV, phone, tablet, laptop, games console, streaming stick or another set-top box.
There's now so many devices that you can watch these streaming services on, that putting them all in a table here would be overkill. Netflix used to be a clear winner in this area but now you can watch almost anything on almost any device. We'd say Now TV is the least accessible of the three.
What's on Netflix, Amazon & Now TV?
Price, features and device compatibility are all well and good, but they mean nothing if there’s nothing you want to watch. Films and TV shows are on offer with all three services, plus original content you won’t be able to find on rival services (Now TV’s original content comes from its owner, Sky). Which is better in this respect will depend on your personal taste.
Netflix not only has a huge selection of other companies' films and TV shows, but also produces a wealth of its own original content, from films such as Birdbox to massive TV shows including Stranger Things, The Good Place, Orange Is The New Black, Star Trek: Discovery and more. Check out our guides to the best films and best TV shows on Netflix to get a sense of what's out there.
Amazon also has some really successful exclusives including The Man in the High Tower, Ripper Street, Mr Robot, Vikings, Preacher, The Grand Tour and American Gods, though few can match the Netflix shows for quality or popularity. However, it's worth noting that the Prime Video film selection is arguably even better than Netflix's now, so it can be a better choice for film fans.
The Prime catalogue can be extended even further by signing up to additional Channels. These are essentially streaming services that either feature content made by specific studios like MGM, HBO, and the Discovery channel or genre specific offerings such as the horror-focused Shudder, anime-hub Viewster, and high-brow/arthouse BFI.
Each has it's own individual subscription, so you'll need to look at each to see what it costs on top of your Amazon subscription, but they all offer a 7-day free trial.
On Now TV you’ll find exclusive content from Sky’s channels, including Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Walking Dead, which you can stream immediately after they air on TV - making Now TV the cheapest way to keep up with those shows as they air in the UK.
As for the Cinema Pass, that basically gives you access to all of Sky Movies, which means there's a huge movie selection, many of which aren't on any other streaming platform. More importantly, Now TV often gets big blockbusters long before either Amazon or Netflix, so if you want a streaming service that lets you catch up on the biggest films you missed in the cinema just months later, Now TV is a clear winner.
It’s a bit easier to browse Amazon’s current video library without having a subscription, so you can get a better idea of the content without even having to sign up for the free trial. Just search Amazon’s website in a browser.
As mentioned before, we think it’s well worth signing up to all three trials in order to get a better idea of which has the offering that’s best suited for you.
Are there any other good streaming services?
Of course, streaming is not just limited to Netflix, Amazon and Now TV. There are plenty of other places you can go to watch on-demand movies and TV shows if you’d prefer, including some that cater to specific niches like horror movies or Disney - take a look at our guide to the best Netflix alternatives to see what's out there.
There are various non-subscription options available if you want more of a pay as you go service, for example. This way you can rent or buy to keep only the titles you really want to watch. Prices vary so you often need to shop around to find the best price and they are available on a range of devices too.
And if you'd like to receive physical DVDs, there is a subscription service for that too. It used to be LoveFilm, but that recently shut down for good. An alternative is Cinema Paradiso, which you can sign up to here.
Which is the best streaming service for you?
Right now, Amazon is the marginally the winner thanks to the extra benefits you get with a Prime subscription: one-day delivery, free eBooks and a music streaming service. Despite these extras, it's the around the same price as Netflix. For many, it should be the obvious choice. You can sign up to Amazon Prime here.
However, as we've said, it will depend on whether you like the content on offer. If you discount the Prime add-ons, then Netflix delivers an exceptional blend of high-quality original TV, a good selection of movies, and plenty of classic series to keep you busy for a very long time.
We're fans of the exclusive content on both Netflix and Amazon services and we've found plenty of good - and bad - movies and TV shows in both libraries.
One thing you won't find on either of those services is the latest blockbusters: they tend to appear after many months. You may, however, be more likely to find those sooner on Now TV, so if that's the kind of content you're after Now TV may better suited to you.
If you can afford to subscribe to more than one then you will get the best selection, of course, but if you can't then your decision should come down to what device(s) you want to watch on and what content you want to watch. Make use of those free trials to discover which you prefer.