The days when we were shackled to the TV schedules are over: for less than a tenner a month you now have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of box-sets and blockbusters.
That's mostly thanks to Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime Video. All three are worthy contenders for the title of best video streaming service, each of the three with its own particular strengths and occasional weaknesses.
Of course, you're here because you want to know which is best. And that's where we come in. We've reluctantly spent hundreds of hours bingeing on films and TV series so that we can give you our definitive verdict. We know, we spoil you.
So grab the popcorn and get comfy, the show is about to begin...
Amazon vs Netflix vs Now TV: Content
Amazon Prime Video
Like cold hard figures? How does Amazon Prime Video’s 15,000+ strong library of movies and TV episodes tickle you? It’s the largest offering here, and while that’s an impressive boast to draw you in, it doesn’t mean much if there’s nothing worth watching. Fortunately, Prime Video also gets the medal for most improved in this respect too.
It wasn’t that long ago that Amazon really fell behind Netflix in the quality of content it had to offer. That was particularly true with regards to its original content – something that’s fast becoming a deciding factor for many when choosing a video streaming service.
But Amazon is playing catch up, and fast. It now produces well-respected original shows such as American Gods, The Man in the High Castle, Sneaky Pete and Jeremy Clarkson’s Grand Tour to name a few. There’s money being spent here, and the results are showing.
You can add that to a better movie selection too. They’re from a similar post-Blu-ray release window as Netflix, but it’s arguably a better quality selection. Recently added films include critically acclaimed titles including The Hateful Eight, Carol and Spotlight, alongside Krays biopic Legend and 2016’s The BFG. You’ll also get much older films added alongside them for variety, and a constant reshuffling of it all to keep things feeling fresh.
We can’t say that all of those 15,000 titles are top quality watching – there’s plenty of filler here (we see you, straight-to-DVD films) – but the good stuff that accompanies it is certainly improving.
Prime Video also offers newer titles for rent or purchase alongside your included Prime content, which gives you the option to treat yourself to a more recent blockbuster in one easy package.
Boxsets, boxsets, boxsets. Netflix is the king of them. And while it’s got some of the biggies such as Peaky Blinders, Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story and Homeland, some of the best TV it has to offer is the stuff it’s created itself.
The list is huge and growing almost weekly. Think House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Daredevil, Narcos, Black Mirror and Stranger Things to name a few. Award winning, critically acclaimed shows that you can’t get anywhere else. That’s a feather in Netflix’s cap right there.
It’s also putting good work into hard-hitting documentaries, such as the Emmy-winning Making a Murderer and Oscar-nominated 13th, as well as a new run of comedy shows with big names like Dave Chapelle and Louis CK.
Its Originals series certainly seems to be its focus, because its movie selection isn’t quite as impressive in comparison. There’s still some decent stuff to be found on there if you have a good dig through, including 2016’s The Nice Guys, The Neon Demon and Brotherhood, but it’s not going to challenge Now TV, or maybe even Amazon depending on your taste, for the most up-to-date releases.
Its back catalogue is decent though, and the quality of films is probably better on average than on Amazon. That means you’re safer taking a punt on a film you’ve never heard of and it actually being watchable.