Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, NOW TV: Which is best? Pricing, key features and user experience

Jacob Stolworthy
·5-min read

If you're a fan of film and television in any way, you've probably noticed that streaming services are the future.

With a fair number available containing an insurmountable number of titles you can watch at home - and, in some cases, on the go - your choice over which to select may fill you with an intense feeling of anguish.

Fear not - we're on hand to run through the pros and cons of each with a guide that will help guide your decision before you part with a single penny.

Netflix

Pricing: The cost of a one screen basic plan is £5.99 while a standard two screen service has recently risen from £7.49 to £7.99 per month. To watch on four screens, it's £9.99. A free 30 day trial is available.

Key features: Netflix can be accessed on a range of devices ranging from your phone, laptop to TV screens - pause what you're watching in one place and it'll conveniently pick up exactly where you left off somewhere else.

The service also allows you to make four different profiles for family members with password capabilities to keep youngsters from watching the content they shouldn't be (there's even a dedicated kids profile).

An algorithm assembles your preferences based on your recently watched titles hopefully minimizing the time you spend picking what to watch next. A fan of the binge watch? Netflix allows you to skip both the opening and end credits of its wide range of original properties should you so wish.

Quality of viewing is also guaranteed with 4K Ultra HD playback available.

Watching on the go? Download to watch on the train with all titles remaining in your library for 30 days.

What can you watch here that you can't watch anywhere else? Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Crown, BoJack Horseman, Mudbound, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Ozark

Amazon Prime

Pricing: For existing Amazon customers, membership costs £7.99 a month or £79 for the yearly service. Both offer a 30-day free trial.

Key features: With a staggering 18,000 films and 4,500 TV shows on offer (Netflix has less than 15,000), Amazon Prime is a serious streaming contender.

£79 a year, however, remains a hefty sum. Justifying this somewhat is the service's music-streaming provider, deals on books you can buy on its Kindle store, an unlimited cloud-based photo storage system and - perhaps the clincher - free next-day delivery on the majority of its products. Just remember - once you make the purchase, you're locked in for the full year.

Monthly subscriptions are available, and it gives you full access to the Prime Instant Video library. Setting this apart from Netflix is the 'Movies with Limited Time on Prime' category which helps you prioritise your choice.

Unlike Netflix, however, it fails to recommend you titles based on your previous watching habits - but it does have a better range of films to choose from. Its TV titles are not to be sniffed at either featuring the little-seen TV shows you've been meaning to catch, the majority of which are available to download for offline viewing.

What can you watch here that you can't watch anywhere else? The Boys, American Gods, Mr Robot, The Americans

NOW TV

Pricing: After a seven-day free trial, the Entertainment Pass is priced at £9.99 a month with the Sky Cinema set at £11.99.

Key features: A pay-as-you-go service offering passes for entertainment, movies and sports, the NOWTV box is a commendable alternative to Sky featuring all the catch-up service you need (iPlayer, All 4, etc) as well as a live TV option (licensing permitting).

Once connected to wi-fi, the user experience is a relatively fast-moving, lag-free affair boasting a 'Now and Next' programme guide keeping you afloat of the most recently added TV episodes and films. Thanks to Sky Atlantic, NOWTV is the only place to find HBO series - new and old - which can't be found on Amazon or Netflix and the service also offers exclusive access to blockbuster films earlier than anywhere else.

The Cinema pass' themed box sets will ensure you're not scrolling for hours - however, the service doesn't offer the opportunity to create lists or set reminders meaning some good titles may pass you by. Because of this, it's more difficult to find new TV shows and/or films - the layout merely aids in helping you quickly find what you're looking for.

The quality of viewing has vastly improved in recent years. You can now purchase a NOW TV Boost pass for £3 extra per month, which ensures customers can enjoy 1080p HD and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. They’ll also be able to watch on up to three devices at the same time.

Hulu

Pricing: Hulu is yet to become available in the UK but it's $7.99 for US customers with a Live TV service priced at $39.99.

Key features: Hulu is the US equivalent to NOWTV offering a live TV service fit with over 50 channels. It also comes with 50 hours of recording storage to keep you American users afloat of all the TV shows you'd have otherwise missed. These are also available to download to your laptop, tablet or phone for offline viewing.

Hulu's existing streaming content comes equipped with 3,500 TV shows as well as the service's originals which recently attracted attention following The Handmaid's Tale which won the Best Drama Emmy earlier this year. On the downside, streaming comes with adverts that you can get rid of for an extra $4 a month.

Six profiles are available in every home, but if you're hoping for unlimited streams, look elsewhere unless you're happy to fork out an extra $14.99 a month. Titles from US network's HBO and Showtime (Homeland) are yet to be inducted into the service.

What can you watch here that you can't watch anywhere else? The Handmaid's Tale