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The battle of the streamers: which is the best value subscription?

The battle of the streamers: which is the best value subscription?
Succession, (Image: Shutterstock)
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Thinking of purchasing a new streaming service this autumn, or rejigging your existing subscriptions? As well as crunching the numbers on costs, we’ve compared the upcoming content, so you can get the best bang for your buck.

Netflix (£9.99 per month)

Still very much the granddaddy of the streaming services, Netflix continues to reliably do the numbers when it comes to subscriptions - with a recent surge into the 'silver surfer' (that is, viewers over 65) market, although its overall market share has reduced significantly over the last year with the arrival of competitors like Disney Plus and the growth of Amazon Prime.

The streaming giant has just about worked through its pandemic drought, with big releases this autumn including the latest series of Money Heist, another outing of Sex Education, and Chris O’Dowd opposite Melissa McCarthy in original film The Starling. Meanwhile, their exclusive deal to the entire back catalogue of Seinfeld will see 180 episodes of the legendary sitcom land in October.

At £9.99 for a ‘standard’ subscription, Netflix remains the priciest of the streaming services - although, given the vast size of its back catalogue, they’d probably (rightly) insist that it isn't always a like-for-like comparison. And anyway, someone has to pay for their acquisition of the entire Roald Dahl estate.

Amazon Prime (£79 per year - or £7.99 per month)

Though reliable data in this field can be difficult to come by, some estimates - based on Ofcom numbers - suggest that around 10 million households currently subscribe to Amazon Prime: making it a serious player in the streaming market (either that, or there are a lot of people addicted to next-day delivery).

Fresh from their triumphant broadcast of the US Open final, Prime launches into the autumn with the film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking about Jamie, as well as a new musical version of Cinderella, starring Camila Cabello (warning: it’s produced by James Corden - whose traffic-stopping promotional stunt for the film managed to make motorway irritants Insulate Britain look charming by comparison).

Originals-wise, the biggest offering is a glamorous reboot of the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise. Not exactly a stellar return, then, for three months’ worth of subscription.

Disney+ (£7.99 per month)

Spearheading Disney+’s autumn season is their adaptation of Marvel’s Black Widow, as Scarlet Johansson returns to the role of KGB-trained Natasha Romanoff. Other headlines shows include a new season of The World According to Jeff Goldblum, comedy series Reservation Dogs, and an adaptation of cult comic book Y: The Last Man (a post-apocalyptic sci-fi in which every living creature with a Y chromosome - except for one man and his pet - suddenly vanishes).

As always, Disney will be doing its duty to keep the kids entertained too, with Muppets Haunted Mansion and Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales landing just in time for Halloween. All of which makes it particularly decent value if you have a family.

BritBox (£5.99 per month)

While it might be a relative minnow in the streaming world (a fact reflected in its budget price), homegrown Britbox does appear to be going places: moving beyond its original role as a nostalgia fest and archive dumping ground to a producer of original shows too.

The second series of Spitting Image lands this September (complete with some almost hypnotically ghastly puppets of Gareth Soughgate and Marcus Rashford), with the excellent Matt Forde back as one of its leader writers and impressionists. It’s nicely complemented by the arrival of Rick Mayall’s vintage SW1 outing in cult comedy The New Statesman.

Meanwhile, anyone who missed the BBC’s cinema-worthy adaptation of A Suitable Boy can stream it straight into their living room, and fans of odd nostalgia can get stuck into everything from vintage Brookside to Prison Wives. That’s Britbox for you: underrated, and (slightly) underpriced.

Now TV (£9.99 per month)

Let’s face it: if you’re not prepared to part with £9.99 a month to watch the third series of Succession, you have bigger problems than which streaming service to pick.

But, even if we set aside Succession, it’s hard to argue that Now TV doesn’t have a decent spread this season: from Damian Lewis in Billions to The White Locus, and from Oscar-nominated Minari to the rather charming Young Rock, there’s a lot here to get stuck into.

Apple TV (£4.99 a month)

It was a Netflix vs Apple showdown at this year’s Emmys, as the blockbuster heavyweight that is The Crown fought itself facing an unexpectedly tough fight from Apple’s upstart comedy Ted Lasso. The latter emerged as the sleeper hit of 2020, with its latest series the subject of numerous breathless reviews. 

Combine that with some interesting sounding originals (namely an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation), another series of biting satire The Morning Show, and the return of John Stewart and that £4.99 fee starts to look rather tempting indeed.