If we think back 10 years, there was a Blockbuster on most major high street and to rent a movie it was a case of popping down to the local store and then desperately trying to avoid any late fees the following day. At this point DVDs appeared to be a big step up from the old video cassettes, enabling us to skip to scenes and they offered far better quality. This wasn’t the revolution though, services like LOVEFiLM were just around the corner. With this new service it was possible to pay a set monthly price and receive unlimited DVDs through the post, scrapping late fees and generally cutting the cost drastically. Unfortunately the result was killing off some independent film rental companies, together with the larger players like Blockbuster who were slow to keep pace with the evolving world.
Step forward to the present day and the idea of renting DVDs is now also becoming redundant. Why? Well mainly due to the improvements in broadband across the country, which have allowed us to stream much more than music over the net. We can now stream everything from movies to TV programmes, with services like the BBC iPlayer further fuelling our quest for content when we want it, in a convenient format. LOVEFiLM saw this coming and were quick to jump on the bandwagon, including streaming services in it’s offering. Today we now have multiple companies providing excellent streaming services for movies so we’ve compared what’s on offer and what it’ll cost you.
Blinkbox streaming service
What you get:
Blinkbox, now operated by Tesco, differs from other streaming services as it’s a true on-demand platform – you only pay for the content you watch rather than having access to the full catalogue each month. Because it’s part of Tesco you benefit from Clubcard points every time you spend money on credit and you can watch movies on multiple devices, including tablets, computers, smart TVs and consoles. Each time you purchase a title you get access to it for 30 days, perfect if you don’t want to watch it that day.
Is there a Blinkbox free trial and how much does the service cost after?
As it isn’t a subscription service there isn’t a free trial, although you can currently get bonus credit on top of your first deposit which will help you to test out the service for less. Each Monday there’s usually a free movie you can watch so keep an eye out for the latest Blinkbox voucher codes
LOVEFiLM streaming service
What you get:
The company, now owned by Amazon, offers LOVEFiLM Instant which is it’s on-demand service and it gives you access to watch both movies and TV programmes instantly across a range of devices. This includes PCs, tablets, smart TVs, set top boxes and selected games consoles. It’s quick to set up and you can browse the full catalogue before selecting content and just clicking on the ‘Play Now’ button. One of the simplest set-ups on the market, offering compatible across a huge range of devices and the library of content is extensive (you can search before you sign up to check it includes they types of films/TV you like to watch).
Is there a LOVEFiLM free trial and how much does the service cost after?
You can try the service free for 30 days, after which time you’ll pay just £4.99 per month. The LOVEFiLM Instant service can also be bolted on to the traditional DVD rental subscription if you also want DVDs through the post.
Netflix streaming service
What you get: Netflix
is one of the largest service providers in America and has come over to give LOVEFiLM a run for it’s money. It also enables you to stream movies and TV episodes over the internet to a range of devices, including consoles, TVs and any other device compatible with Netflix streaming (the list continues to grow on a monthly basis!). It’s easy to browse the online library and an app is available for you to stream to your smartphone while you’re on the go.
Is there a Netflix free trial and how much does the service cost after?
You’ll get a 1 month free trial when you sign up, after which point it’s slightly more expensive than LOVEFiLM as it’s £5.99 per month. This will give you unlimited access to content 24/7, with no commitment and the option to cancel at any time.
NOW TV streaming service
What you get:
NOW TV is brought to you by one of the largest content providers in the world, SKY. It provides a subscription service for content ranging from sports to films, all of which can be watched on a variety of devices including consoles, tablets, PCs and smart TVs. The Sky Movies Pass is the most popular option and gives you access to a whole range of films, including access to ones 12 months before they’re released on other services like Netflix and LOVEFiLM.
Is there a NOW TV free trial and how much does the service cost after?
You can test out the service with a 1 month free NOW TV trial
, after which time it’ll cost you £8.99 per month for the Sky Movies Pass for the first 3 months. After that it’ll then cost you £15 a month, so it’s more expensive than the others but this is due to the range of new titles being more extensive. In the long-run it could save you money as you may find more movies you’d like to watch. If you love your old films then it may not be the most cost-effective option for you.
Other points to think about with movie streaming services
Most of the providers recommend a minimum broadband download speed of 500Mbps (0.5GB) for streaming movies and other content. This shouldn’t affect most people as average speeds tend to be in excess of 3MB for traditional broadband, however it’s worth doing a speed test just to check your current speeds as they tend to vary from the claimed speeds when you first sign up to your broadband service.
As with all free trials, check the small print to ensure you’re not automatically billed for the second month and how much notice you need to provide for cancellation, both after the free trial and once you’ve signed up to the full service.
The streaming service will only be good value if it has content you like to watch so browse the library first, both for new films and older classics, together with any TV series you’re a big fan off. If you can’t find anything relevant, then check another service as they will differ based on the deals each movie streaming site has in place with film companies and production houses.
Finally – check you can actually watch the content where you want to. If you only have a laptop and never watch movies on it, don’t sign up to a music streaming service, as it will become more of a chore than anything else. If you have a games console plugged in already then you should be able to stream directly to it, so you can watch as usual on your TV (again you can do this with most internet-enabled TVs now as well). Compatibility and broadband speeds are the two key aspects with streaming movies, as you need to ensure you can physically stream the content into your home, and that you can then watch it on the device of your choice.