Which TV and music streaming service is right for you?

Which TV and music streaming service is right for you?

With the number of digital entertainment and music services growing, which one should you choose, or which one should you avoid? As the price of all those streaming subscription fees starts to add up, we take a look at what’s best for you. 

A couple of years back the choice for streaming entertainment was simple, there were Spotify and Netflix and that was about it. No one else appeared on the radar, sure the likes of Sony and Microsoft had their offerings, but no one really noticed or subscribed, and eventually, they gave up as new-media giants began to dominate. 

At the flix

When it comes to movies and TV, Netflix remains the big dog in the house, but the media landscape is changing fast with Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, Apple TV+ and others fighting for subscribers. They are investing billions in new content to attract viewers and deliver top-notch entertainment that the free-to-air broadcasters cannot match. 

There are also plenty of niche players like Mubi for arthouse films, Shudder for horror flicks and History Hit for those into their documentaries. Then add in the likes of iPlayer, BritBox and ITV Hub from the free-to-air broadcasters, and there is certainly plenty to watch. Among this melee of competitors, you need to think about how you will watch shows, in what quality and how often. 

The only way you can really establish their value is to try out the free trial. Take a good look at what they offer, how much of it you will watch, and the frequency of new additions (and removals). 

Based on that, see what you can get elsewhere or through other subscriptions and go with the ones that most meet your needs. 

Service

Cost

Big hits

Netflix

£5.99 for SD on one device
£9.99 HD for two devices
£12.99 UltraHD for four devices

Stranger Things
Breaking Bad
Regular movie updates

Disney+

£7.99 a month (£79 yearly)

Falcon and the Winter Soldier
The Mandalorian
WandaVision
Marvel, Disney and Star Wars films

Apple TV+

£4.99 a month
One year free if you buy an Apple device

For All Mankind
Losing Alice

Ted Lasso

Prime Video

£7.99 a month (£79 yearly)

Coming to America 2
American Gods
Live tennis


Prices correct as of March 2021

There are also technical issues to consider, some apps don’t work on older hardware, like tablets or phones. And, currently, Disney+ does not work on Virgin Media cable services, so you need to make sure you can watch on your favourite screen in the future. Add to that Netflix will soon clamp down on sharing accounts among friends and family by location, and costs might soon rise again. 

Hitting the right notes

Music is a tougher concept to sell as a service to people, mostly because most services offer pretty much the same music content. That’s why Spotify’s lead has remained pretty much untouched despite a few artists going exclusive to one or another rival. 

To try and make a difference, newcomer Tidal offered higher-CD-quality audio streams, but never made much money and was recently sold to financial services firm Square.

To find the right service, ask what quality they play at, do they have your favourite artists or genres and find out if you can get their music elsewhere for less (or free, if you don’t mind some very long YouTube playlists and lots of adverts). 

Most audio services offer a month-long free trial so you can check out the quality of their apps (creating playlists is more of a personal experience for many and some apps are better than others). 

Again, there are niche services and apps like Primephonic for classical fans to cater to specific audiences. You might also want to support your favourite artists by choosing the service that pays the best rates, there’s an extensive article here that resolves this thorny issue for music fans.  

Service

Cost

Big hits

Spotify

£4.99 student account

£9.99 standard

£14.99 for a family account



50 million songs
Makes good automated playlists
Strong focus on podcasts

Tidal

£9.99 per month standard quality
£19.99 per month HiFi quality 

70 million songs
High-quality audio
Some exclusives from the likes of Rihanna
Collection of exclusive video content

Apple Music

£4.99 Student
£9.99 Personal

£14.99 Family 

60 million songs


Between choosing the right service with the content for you in an app that has the best user experience, take the time to explore each service before committing. At least if you make a mistake, you can cancel that monthly contract easily, although they will soon come back with tempting cut-price offers to get you to resubscribe. 



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