NOW TV vs. Netflix vs Amazon Prime Video | UK Streaming Services Compared

By Nathaniel Dalby - Mon 31st Jul 2017 Features

Our guide to what the major UK streaming services offer, how you can watch and which one is right for you.

If you’re a modern TV watcher, you’re probably familiar with streaming. This way of keeping up with your favourite shows has taken the world by storm in the last five year, with a number of different streaming services offering unique experiences. Streaming ensures that TV audiences no longer have to sit down at a specific time to catch a programme, with services offering huge amounts of on-demand content at the press of a button. 

Whether it’s catching up with something that you’ve missed or getting stuck into a show that isn’t on regular TV, streaming has become an essential in the world of entertainment. NOW TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video lead the pack when it comes to streaming services, with all three offering different libraries of TV shows and movies. Here’s how they measure up against each other. 

Netflix 

Netflix is the most well-known streaming service on the market today. Starting in 1997, the service started as a video rental company, eventually extending to mail-order DVDs and now streaming. Netflix is the biggest player in the streaming world, causing a number of other companies to get in on the action and expand the market to what it is today. 

Highlights

With its large amount of resources, Netflix has become known for its original programming, with high-budget TV shows and films being commissioned that rival premium cable offerings and Hollywood movies. Despite the recent push in Original content, Netflix also offers a wide range of films and third-party TV shows, with BBC programmes being particularly well represented. The ubiquity of Netflix’s platform also makes it stand out from the crowd, with most Smart TVs now coming with a special Netflix button.

  • Watch on almost every device
  • Large amount of quality Original content
  • Improving film library 
  • New content added frequently
  • Good amount of British content 

NOW TV

NOW TV is Sky’s streaming service, allowing you to enjoy content on Sky without having to subscribe to or install Sky TV. NOW TV is a contract-free service, allowing you to watch content on a month-by-month basis, so you’re never tied down to a year-long deal like you would be if you signed up to Sky TV. NOW TV is unique among streaming services as it separates out its films and TV into “Passes”, meaning you have to pay separately if you want access to both.

Highlights

With its connection to Sky Cinema and other premium Sky services, NOW TV undoubtedly has the best film lineup overall and quite often has access to new TV shows that other services will either never see or won’t for a long time. If you want to keep up with the latest US drama or the most recent film releases, NOW TV is the king. The service is also available on a number of devices, making it as easy to watch as standard Sky.

  • Latest films and TV
  • Access to exclusive Sky programming
  • Available on up to 4 devices at once
  • Has its own streaming box
  • Contract-free streaming 

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video is Amazon’s streaming service, which works in conjunction to their standard video platform where you can buy and rent movies and TV shows. With Amazon Prime Video, rather than buying content individually, you subscribe to the service which grants you access to a specific library of content. Amazon Prime Video is available as part of Amazon’s Prime premium postage service or just on its own. The service offers a range of films and TV series alongside Amazon Original and Exclusive content.

Highlights

Amazon Prime Video features the same ubiquity and ease of use as other platforms, meaning you can watch on almost any smart device you have. Amazon offers its own streaming devices in the form of the Fire TV and Fire Stick, which plug into your TV and allow you to watch, essentially turning it into a smart TV. Amazon Prime Video also features a number of its own Exclusive and Original series, and whilst this doesn’t include films like Netflix, there’s a decent amount of content on here you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Offers own streaming devices
  • Good variety of Original content
  • Watch on a number of devices
  • Ever-expanding film library
  • Has films that Netflix and NOW TV don’t

Content

The number 1 thing that draws people to streaming services is what you can actually watch on the platform. Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video all feature very different libraries of content, with exclusive programmes and films available on all 3 platforms. Which one you go for will very much depend on your preference, but any one of these are pretty much guaranteed to give you a decent choice of movies and TV shows. Before you commit to a service, it’s best to sign up to the free trial that they all offer and make a watchlist of all the content you’d like to see and compare them. 

Netflix

Netflix’s content has changed dramatically over the last few years. What used to be a modest collection of films and TV shows has morphed into a huge library of content that’s backed up by a strong Original collection. Netflix pioneered the idea of streaming services creating their own content, with the company making a name for itself by greenlighting the long-anticipated 4th season of Arrested Development and going on to create prestige drama like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and The Crown

Netflix has also improved its film offerings over the last year, with recent films such as The Magnificent 7, The Nice Guys and Hunt for the Wilderpeople all being added recently. Netflix is also the very best platform for stand-up comedy, with a huge number of shows available including specials made exclusively for the service. Overall, it’s easy to call Netflix the most well-rounded streaming service, offering a decent mix of TV shows and movies for a modest price.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video features a similar setup to Netflix, in that it offers a diverse library of films and TV shows that are all included as part of the subscription cost. Much like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video has recently expanded its film library to include more recent films, with examples such as The Bourne Legacy, The Hateful Eight, Interstellar and The Take all hitting the service in recent months.

Amazon Prime Video’s true strength, however, is its TV offerings. The service has a decent mix of UK and US series available, with comedies such as Parks and Recreation there to watch in full and BBC shows like The Night Manager also featured. Prestige shows such as Seinfeld and The X-Files are also available exclusively on Amazon in their entirety. Amazon has also resurrected the cancelled BBC show Ripper Street and given it new life on the platform. 

Like Netflix, Amazon also hosts a number of original programmes that it commissions itself. Whilst not produced at the same frequency as Netflix’s equivalent, Amazon Originals have still been critically acclaimed, with the recent American Gods being its most successful show so far. Amazon also has the UK rights to a number of shows that are broadcast on cable TV in the US, such as Preacher, Mr. Robot and Lucifer.

NOW TV

NOW TV’s content is drawn directly from Sky, meaning it has a constant stream of new TV shows and films to watch. The Sky Cinema Pass allows you to watch every film Sky Cinema subscribers have access to and tune into the live channels. The Entertainment Pass lets you watch shows that air on Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Atlantic as well as content that airs on FOX, Discovery and Comedy Central. 

This connection with Sky naturally means that NOW TV features many things you won't find on Amazon or Netflix due to exclusivity deals. Sky has deals with US channels such as HBO and Showtime to exclusively show programmes such as Game of Thrones, Twin Peaks and True Detective, meaning that if you want to stream premium programmes such as these, you’ll have to sign up. 

NOW TV’s Sky Cinema Pass also features much more up to date movies, with Sky Cinema offering a new film per day. This means that the library is denser, but you’ll need to pay over £16 every month if you want both passes - much more than Netflix or Amazon.

Devices

All 3 streaming services support a number of devices for you to watch and stream content on. Users can choose from a variety of devices, including smart TVs, games consoles, streaming sticks and more. No matter which service you primarily use, you can be guaranteed that you’ll be able to watch your content anywhere in your home or on the go. 

Netflix

Netflix is probably the most ubiquitous streaming platform when it comes to available devices, to the point where toasters are likely to be able to run it in the near future. Every smart TV you can imagine will have a Netflix app, with streaming devices such as the Roku Stick, Chromecast and Apple TV also featuring full Netflix capability. 

Game console compatibility is also where Netflix has the edge in terms of variety, with current generation consoles like the Xbox One and PS4 having apps as well as previous generations like the Wii U, Xbox 360 and PS3 also being included. You’ll even be able to watch Netflix on the Nintendo Wii which, considering it was launched in 2006, is an impressive feature. 

Mobile users can also tune in, with Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play Store both having apps, allowing you to watch on the full range of both smartphones and tablets. Digital TV customers with set-top boxes can also get in on the action, with Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk all allowing customers to stream Netflix. Finally, all Windows and Mac desktop and laptop computers are also compatible.

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video also features a large variety of devices you can stream from. Users can stream directly from Amazon via a desktop or laptop computer, or choose one of the myriad of ways to stream directly to a television. As well as the Roku Stick and Chromecast, Amazon also supports its own streaming devices: the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV. These work the same as any other streaming device, but with Amazon Prime built into the stick. 

Amazon Prime Video is also available to watch on mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets. Find these applications in the app store of whatever device you have, and you’ll be able to watch whatever content from Amazon Prime Video (and paid items from Amazon Video) on the move. Amazon’s Kindle Fire device has this service baked into its OS, with the extra ability to download content for viewing when offline. 

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One also allow you to watch Amazon Prime Video content via specialised apps, that work in much the same way as a specialised streaming device or smart TV. 

NOW TV

NOW TV has the smallest amount of compatible devices when compared to the other 2 services, but still has enough variety for users to get the most out of their subscription. NOW TV is owned by Sky, which can be extremely picky as to what you can watch its content on. Subsequently, you can’t watch NOW TV on Sony and Panasonic smart TVs or any Amazon devices like the Fire TV Stick and Kindle Fire HD. If you’re looking to stream NOW TV content, the Roku Stick, Chromecast, Apple TV and LG Smart TVs are highly recommended. 

NOW TV supports the current main games consoles in the PS4 and Xbox One, as well as the previous generation PS3 and Xbox 360. TalkTalk Broadband customers should note that the NOW TV PS4 does often have troubles running when connected to TalkTalk on certain wireless routers - this is a known issue of the provider. 

The majority of smartphone and tablet viewers can also tune into NOW TV, with dedicated apps available on the Apple App Store and Android Google Play Store. NOW TV allows users to have up to 4 devices registered at the same time, so you can mix and match which of your devices you watch content on. You will, however, be restricted in the amount of devices you have registered at a time, with up to 4 available at once and only one change per month allowed.

  Netflix Amazon Prime  NOW TV
Smart TV Sony, Samsung, Sharp, LG, Philips, Panasonic, Toshiba Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic LG, Samsung
Games Console Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
Mobile Devices Android, iOS, Windows Phone iOS, Amazon Fire Android, iOS
Blu-Ray Player Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic, Toshiba Samsung, Sony LG
Set-Top Box Sony, YouView, Virgin Media, TalkTalk Samsung YouView, EE TV
Streaming Devices Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku Roku, NOW TV Box, Apple TV

Navigation

All 3 major streaming services in the UK have been carefully crafted to offer a decent user experience. Quite often, you’ll find that the experience changes depending on what device you’re watching on, with different user interfaces being appropriate for use with touchscreens and remote controls. No matter what you’re using to stream content, modern streaming services have made it so they’re usable even if you’re not technologically minded.

Netflix

Netflix’s user experience is probably the most ubiquitous across its different apps. Whether you’re watching on a computer, tablet or games console, Netflix will always looks and behave the same way. The service offers its content as large panels that you can expand to find out more information and watch. These show as lists that move to the side, with different categories such as Trending Now, Recently Added and genre types appearing as you scroll down. 

Whilst Netflix’s approach has been criticised for being too simplistic, the service has improved in recent years, allowing you to access your watchlist and more specific genres via a drop-down menu on both the desktop and mobile versions. The best part of navigating Netflix is that once you know how to use one platform, you know how to use them all, whether you’re going from a games console to your smartphone. Netflix is also the best at saving your progress, meaning you can pause content on one device and start watching again on another with ease. 

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video treats its navigation a little differently to Netflix for a number of reasons. Amazon Prime Video exists on both Amazon’s website and under the Amazon Video Umbrella. When you use Amazon Prime Video on a computer, you’ll do so directly through Amazon’s retail site as part of the Amazon Video section. Here, you’ll be shown a specific Prime Video section that allows you to view films and TV shows on the platform - all clearly labeled as Prime content. Non-Prime content that you need to purchase individually will often be weaved into this, especially if your Watchlist contains both types of content.

The Amazon Video apps on mobile, streaming devices and games consoles allow you to watch both Prime Video content and films and shows that you’ve purchased separately. If you’re watching on a Kindle, you’ll also be able to download content from both.

Amazon also separates out seasons of TV series as their own thing rather than lumping everything together under one banner, so you can add specific seasons to your Watchlist. Quite often, Amazon will features shows that have some seasons on Prime but some that aren’t. Don’t worry though - these are very clearly labeled so there’s no chance of accidentally buying content you don’t want (something that you can reverse anyway).

NOW TV 

NOW TV is similar to Netflix in that it will generally look the same no matter what you use it on, but with one big difference. NOW TV splits up its content into TV, films, sports and kid’s TV. This differs from both Netflix and Amazon, which both have TV and films lumped together as part of the service.

When using NOW TV, you’ll be able to access whatever content you’ve paid for, whether it’s Sky Cinema, Entertainment, or Sky Sports. NOW TV on all devices allows you to browse all the movies, TV series and sports programming regardless of whether you’re subscribed to each service, but will obviously only allow you to watch if you’re subscribed. This means that you can keep an eye out for the latest films to hit Sky Cinema and choose to subscribe as and when you want to.

Just like Netflix and Amazon, you can compile a Watchlist of content you want to watch, with both films and TV blending together to create one. UI is also very similar across the board, with not too many differences between the desktop, mobile and console versions of NOW TV. The service also does arguably the best job of recommending new content to you, with specific sections for films users are watching regularly and ‘Collections’, which collect films based on genre, actor, director, studio and even timeframe. Want to find the entire collection of Rocky movies, for example? Simply go to the ‘Box Set’ Collection and get watching. Adrian! 

Cost

Cost is one of the most important aspects of choosing which streaming service to choose. Prices vary depending on the style of service you choose, with all 3 major companies offering different tiers to how you pay and what content you can access.

Netflix

Netflix probably has the most diverse subscription model, with users able to tailor their subscription based on how they use the service. Netflix starts at £5.99 per month, which grants you access to all its film and TV content, but without the ability to watch in HD or on more than one device. 

The next tier up from this is the £7.99 subscription, which allows you to watch in HD and stream on up to 2 different devices at once. This version is ideal for couples who watch at different times or anyone who wants to enjoy content in HD (which is highly recommended as any TV you buy will be at the very least HD ready).

Netflix Premium is the 3rd tier of subscription, costing £8.99 per month and allowing for 4 devices to watch at the same time. Netflix Premium customers will also be able to watch in 4K Ultra HD using a 4K television, so you can watch content in the highest possible quality. This does require a very strong internet connection, so is only recommended if you have fibre broadband (ideally something that has an average speed of 50Mbps or more).

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video generally only has 2 tiers of subscription, with one of these not being related to the video service. When you first sign up for Amazon Prime Video, Amazon will heavily push you to buy the full Amazon Prime package, which gets you the Video service, Prime Delivery when shopping, Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Music. This costs £79 per year and whilst you can buy it monthly for £6.58, this technically will cost you more over the course of a year so if you use Amazon a lot and want to dive into Prime Video,give this option a go.

Users can also get Amazon Prime Video on its own without the added benefits of the ‘full-fat’ Prime. This costs £5.99 per month (you can’t buy it per year), making it the same price as the bog-standard Netflix option. Unlike the basic Netflix however, it does allow you to watch content in HD as well as download it to your smart device or Kindle, so it’s actually much better value.

NOW TV

NOW also features a number of pricing tiers, but these are based around the type of content you received rather than how you receive it. NOW TV is split up into 4 different services, which are known as “Passes”: Sky Cinema, Entertainment, Kids and Sky Sports. 

Sky Cinema Pass allows you to watch a huge library of films and Sky Cinema channels live for £9.99 per month. For 7.99, the Entertainment Pass grants you access to a number of TV show as well as Sky TV and others channels like Comedy Central, Vice and Discovery live. The Kids pass gives is where you’ll find kids TV content and channels exclusively for £2.99 a month. Sky Sports is splits up into 3 Passes: £6.99 for a Day Pass, £10.99 for a Week Pass and a whopping £33.99 for the month pass. 

This means that if you theoretically bought every pass available for a month, it would cost you a huge £54.96 - way more than the majority of standard TV packages. However, most users aren’t looking to get Sky Sports on NOW TV monthly, with the Kids Pass also being less popular. Even if you only take Sky Cinema and Entertainment though, it will still net you £17.98 a month - a full £10 more expensive than even the highest tier of Netflix.

NOW TV makes up for this by having a far larger and newer selection of films and TV series to choose from, but it’s still expensive if you’re looking to watch the occasional film. If you’re interested in NOW TV, it may be better to either take both passes and omit other services,  or choose one pass as a complement to a different streaming service, which will give you a larger variety of content to choose from. 

  Netflix Amazon Prime NOW TV
Price £5.99 £5.99/£6.58 for full Prime £7.99 Entertainment/£9.99 Sky Cinema
HD £7.99 Included Included
Ultra HD £8.99 N/A N/A
Trial Length 1 month 1 month 1 week

Verdict

Overall, it’s easy to recommend all 3 streaming services for different reasons, as which one you prefer will very much come down to what you actually want to watch. All 3 of the ones mentioned here allow you to browse their libraries before you give them any money, so it’s highly recommended that you do your research before you commit. If one service has more films and shows you want to watch over the others, then the choice will be a simple one. 

If you’re a film fanatic, the NOW TV Sky Cinema Pass is the best option. This will grant you access to the newest films on Sky Cinema as well as a huge library of classics in a number of genres. NOW TV also has many films that you won’t find on Amazon or Netflix, as well as full series of films without any entries missing. If the latest and greatest films are your preferred choice of entertainment, choose the NOW TV Sky Cinema Pass. 

If you can afford it, choosing the Sky Cinema Pass with the Entertainment Pass is the ideal option if you want to watch the cutting-edge of TV and movies, with HBO and other premium networks showing content exclusively. 

If you’re looking to bundle both films and entertainment but don’t want to pay separately, Netflix has a slight edge on Amazon Prime Video for a number of reasons. Last year, the service’s poor selection of films would have made it harder to recommend but the recent surge of newer and big-name films now makes it a solid choice for any film buff. On the whole, Netflix has a higher quality of Original programming than Amazon, with series like GLOW, Stranger Things and The Keepers all making a name for themselves in a packed TV scene.  

Amazon Prime Video is the best choice if you’re already into the Amazon ecosystem. Amazon shoppers and Kindle users will find it a natural fit, with the added benefits like downloading and faster delivery times being helpful if you go for the full Amazon Prime. Content-wise, Amazon is nearly on par with Netflix and probably has a more interesting selection of US TV and 90s TV than its rival. It’s Original and exclusive content does maybe suffer when compared to Netflix and NOW TV, but it’s still has its strengths.