Netflix is one of the world’s favorite streaming services, but in spite of its leadership, it faces though competition from other popular solutions: Amazon Video and Now TV, which has already gained many fans, in spite of the fact that it is still relatively new when compared to the other options available. For some time, Netflix was the only option for customers who wanted a subscription streaming solution. However, Amazon Video has advanced significantly in the race to become the main name in the industry. In addition, Sky launched Now TV in an effort to attract people who don’t want to rely on cable services to enjoy movies and TV shows. If you are still unsure about which streaming solution is the best, our comparison can help you to make a decision.
Netflix was originally launched in 1997, but only arrived to the United Kingdom in 2012. Over the years, the service has extended its coverage and nowadays, it is available pretty much all around the world, with a few exceptions. At the moment, Netflix doesn’t offers its service in China, Syria, Crimea and North Korea. Netflix has created very popular original content including Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Jessica Jones and Stranger Things. It is estimated that Netflix has over 70 million subscribers worldwide.
At the beginning, Netflix was a subscription service that offered DVDs via post. In 2008, it started streaming TV shows and movies in the United States. In 2016, Netflix announced a massive global expansion that gave audiences around the world the possibility of accessing Netflix. Netflix is considered as the largest single consumer of internet bandwidth. However, in recent years, the platform’s movie catalog has been reduced due to the higher prices applied by studios and stiffer competition from other services. In order to keep their subscribers happy and attract new ones, Netflix has focused on creating original content. Series like House of Cards, Making a Murderer, Stranger Things and Narcos have become hugely popular.
Amazon Video was originally launched in 2006 and up until the end of 2016, it was only available in a few countries including United States, Japan and Germany. Before Amazon Video was launched globally, Netflix had the advantage due to its availability. However, now that Amazon’s streaming service has reached global audiences, the competition is a close call. Amazon Video (also known as Amazon Prime Video or Amazon Instant Video) was bundled with the Amazon Prime loyalty program, which proved to be a polemic decision given that the price for subscribers was considerably increased.
Initially, it didn’t seem like Amazon knew exactly what its video platform should be, which lead to confusion. However, recently Amazon Video has found its own identity and it has taken the lead in terms of advanced technology, supporting options like Ultra HD and HDR video. In addition, Amazon Video has also recognize the importance of creating original content. Titles like Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and the Man in the High Castle, have become very successful and have allowed Amazon to earn awards and subscribers. Amazon Video also stands out for being the only commercial streaming service that offers video downloads so that you can watch content offline. This is a practical solution when you are on the go and don’t have an internet connection.
Sky’s Now TV was launched in 2012 and it is currently available in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It is another alternative for users who want to avoid expensive annual contracts offered by cable TV providers. Now TV represents Sky’s efforts to get the attention from customers who prefer streaming solutions. The service works as a pay-as-you-go version of Sky’s main entertainment, sports and move channels. You can get access to these channels live or watch video on demand from their current schedule or TV shows and movies. Thanks to the amazing licensing deals that Now TV holds with major studios, Now TV can show blockbuster films before than Netflix or Amazon.
Usually, it is possible to watch movies on Now TV just 9 months after their cinema release. Sky TV also has an exclusive deal with HBO, meaning that it is the only option for those who want to watch series like Game of Thrones or Westworld. In order to get more customers, Now TV is offering great deals that give customers the chance to start using the service and to get the hardware for a very low price. Although Now TV is considerably smaller than Netflix and Amazon, the Sky TV streaming services is gaining many fans in Ireland and the UK thanks to its affordability and the fact that it has exclusive rights to shows like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and Penny Dreadful.
Now we’ll take a look at what each service offers in different categories to help you decide which is the right option for you.
In terms of compatibility, Netflix takes the lead as it supports a wider range of devices. It works on gaming consoles, mobile devices, TV boxes and much more. The only exception is the NowTV set-top box, but given that this is not a surprise, given that it is Netflix’s competition. Netflix has been around for quite a while and it is a well-known name in the streaming industry, which is why many manufacturers are eager to ensure that their products work with this popular platform. In addition, Netflix is the only streaming solution that offers full coverage for the top Smart TV brands, which eliminates the need for a TV box. It is even possible to find TV sets that include a dedicated Netflix button that allows you to add the app immediately.
Amazon Video comes in second place in this category as it has significantly improved the support that it offers over the last 12 months. The main downside in this area is that it doesn’t offer support for Chromecast or Apple TV. Still, like Netflix, Amazon video enjoys support across the largest smart TV brands, given that it is a service of one of the largest online retailers in the world. In addition, Amazon offers its own streaming hardware devices: Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV set-top box, which feature advanced technology.
Now TV has not been in the market for the same amount of time as Netflix and Amazon Video and due to this, it doesn’t offer the same level of compatibility. It is more difficult to find it on smart TVs and since the service is limited to Ireland and the United Kingdom, at the moment there are less manufacturers focused on supporting the service. However, Now TV offers its own set-top box that includes a subscription for a convenient price. The device is essentially a Roku media player that includes WiFi and supports 1080p high definition video and that comes with an extremely fast processor.
Software and interface
In this category, Netflix also takes the crown. Although at first sight, the three services offer very similar interfaces with the same functionality (including the possibility of accessing basic data about a movie or TV show by hovering over an image, and the option to find content by genre), in reality both Now TV and Amazon Video have based their interface on Netflix’s but offer simplified versions. Netflix offers a solution that works well on your desktop and on mobile devices too. The large, appealing visuals are combined with swipe gestures and touch targets.
Netflix has continuously worked to improve its interface in order to offer a better users experience with a great combination of practical features. You can continue watching a film or a movie from where you left off, no matter your location of the device that you are using. This innovative and practical feature has been also implemented by Amazon Video and Now TV. The same goes for the Watchlist, which is a solution that allows you to save titles for later viewing. Netflix facilitates the now popular binge watching thanks to the possibility to play the next episode in a TV series automatically. In addition, Netflix offers greater content and metadata.
Netflix has continuously worked to improve its interface in order to offer a better users experience with a great combination of practical features. You can continue watching a film or a movie from where you left off, no matter your location of the device that you are using. This innovative and practical feature has been also implemented by Amazon Video and Now TV. The same goes for the Watchlist, which is a solution that allows you to save titles for later viewing. Netflix facilitates the now popular binge watching thanks to the possibility to play the next episode in a TV series automatically.
In addition, Netflix offers greater content and metadata. The search engine is user-friendly and it allows you to look for a specific title, cast or genre. Even if a film or show is not available, the interface is designed to offer similar alternatives. One downside that may be explained by the fact that Netflix doesn’t want to highlight the fact that TV shows and movies are regularly being removed from the catalog, is that it is not possible to find a section for the content that is about to be removed.
Amazon Video gets seconds place and it has to be said that although it does well in terms of functionality, the looks of the interface leave much to be desired. The service focuses on performance, relegating appearance. There is a lot of information available, but unfortunately, it feels cluttered and affects the user experience. In spite of the fact that it doesn’t offer a smooth navigation experience, Amazon Video deserves recognition thanks to the wide range of content available, as well as the great selection of user review and data that it gathers from sources like IMDB, which is owned by Amazon. Another feature that has earned Amazon Video the second place is X-ray, a label that displays a great deal of information whenever you tap on the screen or press the info button on the remote.
When it comes to Now TV, it has to be said that it is fairly basic and it also offers limited functionality when compared to the other streaming services available. You get a Watch List, Resume Viewing capabilities and Parental Controls, but that is about it. Although the interface works well, it is plain and it doesn’t provide much information about the content available. The search option is limited to movie titles, although you can look for directors, actors and more in the empty results page. Overall, the experience can be frustrating and it feels like the search option only works as a title filter. It may be fast, but its capabilities are very restricted.
This is a crucial aspect when choosing the best content library and while it may come as a surprise to some, Now TV is the winner in this category. It should be noted that none of these three options provides a rich and varied catalog of movies that could compete with an old time DVD store, or to be honest, with certain torrent websites where you can find pretty much any movie that you want. In addition, movie and TV show catalogs are not increased over time and as new titles are added, others are removed when the licensing agreements come to an end. Given that there are more streaming services available, it is hard to find one that offers access to everything you want to watch. They are all subject to limitations. It has been reported that even the US Netflix catalog which used to be considered as the largest in the world, has reduced the amount of content that it offers over the last few years.
Although Netflix now offers less content than it used to, it still offers a larger amount of movies than its competitors. However, in terms of quality, NowTV has a distinctive advantage. Thanks to Sky’s exclusive deals with all the major production companies, Now TV holds the rights to all the hit movies. In general, films are available on Now TV only 9 months after they premier in cinemas, which is the amount of time that it takes for these movies to get to Blu-Ray or DVD. When you access the Now TV service, you can watch pretty much the same content that you get on Sky movie channels, including major releases and all-time favorites.
Netflix’s catalog may not be as extensive or varied as it was in the past, although the quality of its original content is still strong. Shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Narcos, Sense8 and Jessica Jones are good examples of the quality and diversity of options available on this platform. In addition, Netflix broadcasts content in Ultra HD 4k video with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital soundtracks.
While Amazon comes last at the moment, it should be noted that the service has improved considerably in recent years and it has invested a lot of money creating original content. Although it doesn’t have as many successful original shows as Netflix, titles like Transparent, Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle have earned critical acclaim. Additionally, Amazon Video launched last year “The Grand Tour”, a new show featuring the original team from Top Gear. Still, the reason why Amazon Video can’t compete with Now TV and Netflix in this category is that overall it offers a disappointing selection of movies.
Video and Audio quality
In this category, Netflix takes the lead again thanks to the fact that it is a more established solution and it has the budget to build its own CDN (Content Delivery Network), meaning that it is able to stream content at a higher bitrate. You get greater control over the video quality on your home connection. If you are using a mobile 3G/4G connection, Netflix offers better performance than other options. Due to Netflix’s global CDN, the majority of its exclusive content can be accessed in full 4K or Ultra HD, at least by Premium users. Netflix’s audio also deserves to be highlighted and you can enjoy better quality than with Amazon Video or Now TV.
Over the last few years, Amazon Video has improved its video and audio quality and it has overcome issues such as the poor encoding of its back catalog. However, it offers remarkable output when it comes to the video and audio of its original content. Amazon is already streaming content in HDR, although this option is only available with a couple of its own TV series. Now TV comes last due to the lack of support fir high definition video.
If we take into consideration the Prime option, Amazon wins hands down, although it should be said that it would still come first without Prime. With the basic £5.99 a month charge, you get access to the full library of content and can watch content on two different devices at the same time, without having to pay extra for the full HDTV, Ultra HD and HDR video streams. For just 59p per month, you can subscribe to Amazon Prime, including the video streaming service. It’s a tie for Netflix and Now TV. Netflix used to offer the largest selection of content and the price point was very low (£5.99), which attracted people who wanted to leave behind expensive cable TV services. However, nowadays the price is not as good value as it used to be. Finally, Now TV costs £6.99, but since it provides access to TV shows like Game of Thrones, many consider it a good investment for premium content, particularly considering that you don’t have to worry about the hassle of paid TV subscriptions.
Netflix comes ahead in most categories. It provides fantastic original content, the best audio and video quality, as well as the most convenient user interface. However, there are two many plans at the moment (so you need to pay more for all the extras) and they don’t offer good value for money. In addition, over the years, the catalog of content has been significantly reduced. Netflix is now available across the globe and its has focused on creating top quality content of its own. Sky’s Now TV comes second and although it offers a very simple interface and its global coverage is limited, it is the best solution when it comes to quality of movies. Although Amazon Video offers great value, it simply can’t compete in terms of content and video or audio quality.