Over the past few years the UK has witnessed an influx of new internet based video streaming services, many of which offer a wide selection of both online TV and Movie content. This, without a doubt, is due to the ever-growing fast and flexible broadband connectivity. It is clear to see that video streaming has its own unique position in the market, but the question is, which service is the best for you?

a new generation of paid video streaming (Video-on-Demand) services, such as LOVEFiLM Instant, has slowly begun to change all that by offering consumers a much wider and instantly accessible library of related content. Available at the mere touch or click of a button, across multiple different internet connected devices (PC’s, Smartphone’s etc.) and without you needing to buy any new kit or software (most run directly through either a web browser or special app).

The number of Netflix streaming subscribers has been constantly increasing over the years, surpassing the 100 million mark in the second quarter of 2017. Global figures have been on the rise in the last few years thanks to Netflix’s global expansion strategy. Although over half of Netflix’s streaming subscribers are located in the United States, the company’s presence is growing worldwide. Some of the most important markets for Netflix include Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. Netflix’s penetration in these markets stood as high as 72 percent in the second quarter of 2017. Netflix’s global expansion has a direct impact on its earnings, as the company’s annual revenue increased more than tenfold between 2005 and 2016. 

 Amazon Prime Video offers films and television shows for rent or purchase and as part of Amazon’s Prime subscription, selected titles can be viewed exclusively to full Prime or Prime Video members, in which video membership allows viewing without full Prime. It is a direct competitor to Hulu and Netflix In 2017, 44 percent of OTT video service users in the United States were using Amazon Prime Instant Video, with the platform’s original content steadily gaining in popularity. That year, Amazon Studios were also nominated for 15 Primetime Emmy Awards.

Sadly video streaming services aren’t perfect, there are a few important things to consider:-

FREE Trials / Free Content. Many of the new services offer a free trial period, just be aware that these might not be identical to the final premium product. Free trials or content might restrict how much you can view, impose ad-breaks or even hinder video quality. Check the service terms first.

Rental Period. Most of the following services give you between 1 and 4 weeks to start watching the rental and then 24-48 hours to finish viewing it from the first time you press play.

Video Quality. Don’t expect the video quality, especially services that claim to offer High Definition (HD) streams, to match what your TV can deliver. Unlike computer monitors, TV’s are specifically designed to optimise even low quality video so, if you can, it’s a good idea to output your video to a TV rather than your computer. We’d need another article to explain this as there are many different methods and some won’t work due to DRM restrictions.

* Sound Quality. Sadly many streaming services deliver good but not the best quality audio, which is intended to help keep the connection speed requirements under control. So do not be surprised when your expensive surround sound system fails to deliver an ideal experience, it’s probably not the kits fault.

Broadband Speed. Ideally you should have a STABLE broadband connection speed of at least 2Mbps (Megabits per second) for reasonable video and sound quality. Many services do deliver streams for slower connections but the video quality will only get worse and buffering (pauses in your movie) are likely to become an increasing irritation. You’ll also need more like 5Mbps for some of the “HD” streams.

Broadband Usage. Watching a single 2 hour movie could consume anything between 1.5GB to 5GB (GigaBytes) of data (depending upon video quality, codec and movie content). So it’s important to make sure that your broadband package can cope with heavy usage because some ISPs will impose extra charges or limit your connection speed. Check your package details for any Fair Usage Policies (FUP) or simply ask your ISP directly beforehand.

At this point, you should remember that you can access both TV and movies online for free through web-based streaming videos services, however, you may have limited content, as most services often only carry recent TV programmes and movies from the past couple of weeks.

Here are some examples of the free services that you can access:

4OD (Channel 4)

iPlayer (BBC)

ITV Player (ITV)

Demand 5 (Channel 5)