In this blog post we’ll be looking at the most popular on demand and live streaming services available, including both free and paid services which offer a great choice of content. Each national UK broadcaster provides some sort of catch up / on demand video service with some having more features than others. In this post we’ll look at what the main broadcasters have to offer as well as third party services that aren’t available to watch on television but instead are watched online via a device such as a tablet or phone.
Netflix: From £5.99 a month
One of the first online streaming services, Netflix was initially launched in 2007 and is one of the most popular services today due to its large list of movies and TV shows which are updated every week. Netflix also produce their own TV shows and is home to big hits such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Daredevil. A great website for looking at all the movies Netflix has to offer is Netflix movie listings at netflixmovies.com which also has an up to date list of recently added films.
The basic Netflix package is £5.99 a month and allows one connection via laptop, tablet or TV. The standard package is £7.49 a month and allows access to high definition content and the ability to watch programmes at the same time on two devices. Overall if you are looking for a large library of content to watch on your tablet, Netflix has one of the largest which is always being updated and with almost all programmes available in high definition it's easy to see why Netflix is so popular.
Sky Go: Free for Sky customers
Available free of charge to all existing Sky customers, Sky Go is a live and on demand streaming service that includes live streaming of popular channels such Sky 1, Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Movies and Sky Atlantic from mobile devices. You can also view past content that was originally shown on Sky channels.
For those without Sky subscriptions there are also packages available starting from £15 a month which gives you access to content without having to take on the full Sky subscription, which is great if you are only planning on watching a few of the channels. Sky have also recently launched Sky Go Extra, which for an extra £5 a month allows customers to download shows and programmes via Wi-Fi and save them to their device to watch later. This is very convenient if you are planning on watching shows where there will be no internet available. In summary Sky Go provides subscribers with live and on demand content from all the major Sky channels, so if you happen to miss a program or are nowhere near a TV you can always use your tablet to watch live or catch up later.
Amazon Video: £79 a year (only yearly subscriptions available)
Included with Amazon Prime is Amazon Video which is a video on demand service with access to over 15,000 TV episodes and movies to watch. On the standard subscription of £79 a year Amazon Video lets you watch any TV shows from its vast library including its Amazon Originals collection with big names such as The Man in the High Castle, Mad Dogs and the new highly anticipated upcoming program from the former Top Gear presenters.
Amazon Video also gives you the ability to rent high definition movies for £4.45 per title which unlocks the movie for 30 days and allows 48 hours of viewing once the film has been started. In addition to this you can also purchase films on your account for £13.99 per title and watch as many times as you like. In conclusion Amazon Video offers all the latest movies and TV shows available online to watch whenever you like and also offers a lot of other Amazon benefits if you are a frequent user of the store.
BBC iPlayer: Free (If you're in the UK)
BBC iPlayer is a free on demand and live streaming service that covers the BBC’s main channels and allows users to catch up on missed shows up to 30 days after it was originally aired. You can also live stream certain channels such as BBC one, two, four and BBC parliament on the computer or through mobile devices. The main features of BBC iPlayer is that it is currently the only service to offer on demand video in high definition compared to its competitors 4od, My5 and ITV Hub. It is also one of few services that is completely ad free and doesn't force you to watch adverts.
Recently BBC iPlayer has also become the home to BBC Three which went completely digital at the start of February 2016 and can no longer be watched or streamed. The only way to watch content from the BBC’s comedy channel is through its own iPlayer section on the website. Overall BBC iPlayer is one of the best catch up services from the four main UK TV networks and is currently the only one to offer high definition content.
Similar to BBC iPlayer 4OD/All4 is the catch up and live streaming service provided by Channel 4 that includes all the programmes shown on their main TV channels (Channel 4, E4, More4 and Film4) to catch up or rewatch 30 days after it was originally broadcast. Some titles are available over 30 days and are usually Channel 4 originals such as the Inbetweeners, Peep Show and the IT Crowd. Although the service is free users are still required to watch adverts at the start of the show and a few ad breaks during.
Just like iPlayer, 4ODalso allows users to download titles to their mobile devices to watch later although unlike BBC’s iPlayer 4OD does not currently support high definition content. 4OD also gives users the option to live stream some of Channel 4’s most popular channels. In conclusion 4OD offers a great catch up service for any programmes missed and gives a much longer catch up time for Channel 4 originals.
ITV Hub: Free
Replacing ITV catchup, ITV Hub is the new on demand service by ITV that not only allows catch up but also live streaming, premieres, box sets and series so far. ITV Hub is the only place to catch up on popular TV shows such as Britain’s Got Talent, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. It is also possible to live stream many of ITVs channels including ITV 1 - 4 and kids channel CITV. Similar to 4od ITV Hub requires users to watch adverts before the start of watching programmes and during scheduled breaks although they have just introduced a premium ad free service for £3.99 a month.
ITV Hub does not currently offer high definition content or the ability to download programmes to watch offline like iPlayer but is looking to release these features in the future. In a nutshell ITV Hub provides great content and features just like its competitors and with many new features planned for the future it can only get better.