In the UK we have only really had one subscription streaming option for films – LoveFilm, which is an Amazon company delivering streaming and DVD postal services. Netflix is new to the UK. In it’s first few weeks I wanted to take a look at the impact into the UK market streaming video market.
Read on to find out more.
LoveFilm has been around in various guises in the UK since 2002 and I have been a member since then. It was a fairly niche market at the time but given the convenience of just popping your DVD back in the post it was a great solution, especially for people like myself that live in more rural areas. In 2009 and now an Amazon company LoveFilm started introducing a streaming service to it’s members at various packaged rates e.g. offering a certain amount of time or unlimited streaming as part of your existing package.
The selection was a little sparse to start with and the rate at which new content was added was slow but in time it’s started to add more content and newer films. Also with the number of XBOX 360′s and PS3′s in homes it became a great way to get into watching movies online. It’s a service that myself and my family used but we were (and are still) dependant on the postal service to keep up to date on the newer releases.
So we have a good subscriber base and plenty of consoles in the UK for LoveFilm to get going, but along comes Netflix and I for one was rejoicing as it means more competition and (hopefully) more content.
With the clout of Netflix from the States I was optimistic and signed up for the free month trial, however you do need to enter a credit card so make sure you set a reminder to cancel if you aren’t subscribing. I installed the app on our Apple TV and XBOX 360 and was eager to see what amazing (or so I thought) content I was in for.
The first thing to say is that the interface on both Apple TV and XBOX 360 is great looking but does have it’s flaws. It’s cluttered and not obvious how to search for content. With the Facebook integration I was a little annoyed at the ‘Recommendations from Facebook’ option that was useless to me – although if you a FB addict I could see the benefit in it. Another place that I feel it’s trying to be a bit too clever is to automatically play the next episode (if you are watching a series), id like the option to be able to select before auto play kicks in.
So how about the content?
Here is the main difference between the two services, LoveFilm doesn’t offer series only movies – having said that they have just signed a deal with Disney for HBO content such as Lost and Grey’s Anatomy so it’s looking good for them in future months. If you are into your TV there is a good selection of new and old series on Netflix both British and American, although they only seem to have the rights to the first few series of each e.g. Dexter had the first 3 series available.
When it comes to movies the winner has to be LoveFilm. I was able to view classics such as Apocalypse Now up to fairly new releases like Source Code. On Netflix there is a good selection of genres but the choice is really limited although I did enjoy the documentaries on there, which I couldn’t get access to on LoveFilm.
Now here is where they both fall down but Netflix is the worst offender given they need to pushing to get some subscribers – addition of new content.
Weeks can go by and I see nothing added, it’s like neither LoveFilm or Netflix are really that interested in giving us great content and keep us as customers. In the three weeks I have been in the trial for Netflix I’ve seen maybe 2 or 3 items added, not great and doesn’t encourage me to give them my hard earned money.
Now we have gone over what is and isn’t available what about the quality of the delivery. In general I found the quality of the Netflix stream to be higher quality in both visuals and sound. It looked crisper and wasn’t so pixelated, now I am aware this could be to do with my connection speed (6 MB) but this should be plenty enough for streaming a film.
So if I had to choose one here in the UK i’d go with LoveFilm for the following reasons:
- App is easier to use
- There is more content to choose from, although remember it’s only movies (for the moment)
- Subscription includes DVD by post so you can still get access to the newest releases
- Netflix has pushed very little new content over the trial period so it makes me concerned about their commitment to the venture here in the UK
I hope my UK readers have found this useful and please leave a comment on your thoughts of the best streaming service we have here.