The Best Video On Demand (VOD) Streaming Services in 2020
There are now more and more options to stream TV shows and movies online. For those that don’t want to spend a lot of money on a cable, satellite, or live TV, there are great entertainment with a subscription video streaming service.
To help you find the right subscription video service, we’ve put together a full overview of the different plans, features, content catalogs, and streaming quality of the different services.
Some services have more classic television shows like Friends, The Office, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons, while services like Disney+ have more popular movies like Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars, and others have a deeper catalog of original shows like The Mandalorian, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Star Trek: Discovery.
There are options from £5 to £12 a month, which means you might want to choose more than one service to create your own little streaming bundle of content for your entire family.
What is the Best On Demand Streaming Service?
After testing and analyzing video-on-demand (VOD) streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video for thousands of hours, we found that each service is great for different reasons.
Most of the interfaces are well-designed, they all primarily work across major streaming players, support offline mode on mobile devices, and have compelling enough content for adults, kids, and the whole family. The key decision to make when choosing a streaming service is deciding if it has the content you want to watch at an affordable price.
Depending on if you want new originals, classic TV shows, blockbuster movies, or shows for kids — we think there is a great pick for you.
At £9 / month, Netflix is more expensive than most others, but there is so much content, you’ll never be at a loss to find something to entertain. With hundreds of originals series like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Queer Eye, and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo — there are options for everyone in your household.
Subscription Video On Demand Streaming Service Comparison
Netflix vs. Amazon Prime Video vs. Disney+ vs. Apple TV+
When compared to your cable TV subscription, a subscription on demand streaming service is a bargain. At less than £9 / month a month, you can get access to a library of old TV shows, movies, and high-quality original series.
Over the last year, almost all of the streaming services support Profiles, Parental Controls, and Offline Streaming. The biggest difference is in the number of profiles, functionality of parental controls, and how much content you can actually download.
All the services stream in at least HD quality with Stereo sound, with some of the video streaming services offering select titles in 4K with high-quality audio like Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos.
|Prime Video||Apple TV+||Disney+||Netflix|
|30-Day Trial||7-Day Trial||Sign Up||30-Day Trial|
|£6||£5||£6||£6 – £12|
|TV Shows (Approx.)||2500 shows||6 shows||500 shows||2000 shows|
|Movies (Approx.)||14000 movies||2 movies||1000 movies||5000 movies|
|Profiles (Max.)||1 profile||6 profiles||7 profiles||5 profiles|
|Simultaneous Streams||3 devices||6 devices||4 devices||4 devices|
|Video Quality||1080p, 4K||1080p, 4K||1080p, 4K||1080p, 4K|
|Audio Quality||Stereo, Surround||Surround||Stereo, Surround||Stereo, Surround|
Plans & Pricing
At just £6 / month (£60 / year) after a Sign Up Now, Disney+ is one of the least expensive options for streaming content. But, with a low price, you still get access to incredible content like the entire Disney Vault, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and Nat Geo Films — as well as originals like the Star Wars TV series — The Mandalorian.
Amazon Prime Video, at £6 / month (£72 / year) after a 30-Day Free Trial, has the largest catalog of shows and movies. Additionally, you will get access to a library of old HBO shows and originals like Jack Ryan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Fleabag.
The most well-known and largest is Netflix, which offers plans ranging from £6 / month (for 1 screen) to £12 / month (for 4 simultaneous screens and 4K) after a 30-Day Free Trial. Most subscribers will end up with the £9 / month per month “Standard”, which includes 2 simultaneous screens.
With Netflix spending billions a year on content, you will get the most value for your subscription. The service includes movies, classic TV shows, and originals like Stranger Things, Queer Eye, Mindhunter, and Russian Doll.
Right now, it has the full catalog of Friends and The Office, but those will be moving to HBO Max and Peacock next year.
All of the major streaming services include original series, and access to a library of movies and television shows. The lone exception is Apple TV+, which is made up exclusively of original content.
Over the next 18 months, there will be a shift of what content is available where, as new services like Disney+ launch. The various different services are spending billions of dollars on content across categories from dramas to comedies to kids shows.
When choosing a streaming service, either pick it because it has a library of shows that you want to have access to or because it has a collection of original shows and movies to consistently keep you interested. Every major streaming service is now creating originals, some with completely new ideas, others with spinoffs, and even some bringing back classics with reboots.
The exact movies you will get with each service changes by the month, depending on their deals with different movie studios.
The most popular series on Disney+ is “The Mandalorian”, the first live-action Star Wars series. At launch, they will also have “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, based on the Disney Channel film and the docu-series “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” — in addition to a few others.
While not available immediately, there will be heavy emphasis on Marvel shows for the services. In the next two years, they will be bringing shows like “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (2020), “WandaVision” (2020), “Loki” (2021), Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk.
The service will also be bringing additional Star Wars shows like an Obi-Wan Kenobi series, a Cassian Andor series, and a new season of Clone Wars.
For the younger crowd, they are working on a revival of “Lizzie McGuire”, “The Mighty Ducks”, and “Monsters at Work” based on the Pixar movie “Monsters, Inc.”
While Disney+ has a deep film library, one of the big draws to the service is that it has every episode of “The Simpsons”, with “Malcolm and the Middle” coming soon after launch. They also will have 90’s animated Marvel series like Spiderman and X-Men, as well as Star Wars animated series Clone Wars.
Joining those will be a deep library of shows from Disney Channel like “Tangled: The Series”, DuckTales, “Fancy Nancy”, “Vamparina”, and “Phines and Ferb”. It will also have Disney Channel classics like “That’s So Raven”, “Hannah Montana”, and “Even Stevens.”
If you’re a fan of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars — Disney+ is a must have. The service includes the entire Disney animated library known as the Disney Vault. This means you and your family can watch movies like “Frozen”, “Moana”, “Snow White”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Aladdin”, “The Lion King” anytime you want. You can also watch nearly every Pixar film ever made like “Toy Story”, “Finding Nemo”, “Cars”, “Wall-E”, and more.
All these titles will sit alongside the best of Hollywood with much-loved films such as “Home Alone,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Ice Age,” “Sister Act,” and James Cameron’s Oscar-winning “Avatar.”
The service has over 30 Marvel films with the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) including “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame”. For Star Wars fans, you can stream nearly every Star Wars film from “A New Hope” through “The Force Awakens.”
Starting with 2019 theatrical releases, every Disney movie released in theaters will be available on Disney+ about 8 months after it hits theaters. This means that the live-action remake of “Dumbo”, “The Lion King”, “Aladdin”, “Avengers: Endgame”, “Toy Story 4”, and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will be coming to the service in 2020.
They will also be making available for the service like live action remakes of “Lady and the Tramp” and “The Sword in the Stone”, the Anna Kendrick Christmas comedy “Noelle”, and “Timmy Failure”, based on the best-selling books.
There is no better streaming service for kids than Disney+. Not only does it include the entire library of Disney and Pixar animated films, but also many shows from the Disney Channel.
Since the service offer a Kids Mode, your child can have their own profile that only shows content appropriate for them. When you’re traveling, you can even download movies and shows offline to keep your kids occupied on long car rides or flights.
Prime Video has had a lot of critical success with their original series including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Jack Ryan, Star Trek: Picard, an exclusive series like Outlander and Vikings.
One of the main reasons to subscribe to Prime Video is to get access to classic shows including The Office, House, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Hell’s Kitchen, and more.
Amazon Prime Video has the largest movie libraries with over 10,000 titles, but mostly smaller films rather than major blockbusters.
Prime Video even has original films that first appear in theaters like The Upside, “Manchester by The Sea”, “The Big Sick”, and “Cold War”.
Amazon Prime Video is the home for popular kids content like Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, and an original series based on Kung Fu Panda.
With the service spending $15 billion on content, the sheer amount of original series on the service is astounding. They have scripted series like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, The Crown, GLOW, as well as unscripted shows like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Love is Blind, Nailed It!.
Netflix has historically had a deep library of some favorites from the past few decades. The service has had access to every episode of Friends. But, just as that show is leaving Netflix, Seinfeld will be joining the service starting in 2021.
Netflix currently has access to some older films from Warner Bros and Universal. The streaming service also makes it’s own original films like Marriage Story, The Irishman, Bird Box, All The Boys I Loved Before, and The Kissing Booth.
Netflix is creating a lot of original programming for kids from animated series to live action. They have series like Ask The Storybots, Carmen Sandiego, Beat Bugs, and Chip and Potato. They’ve also partnered with DreamWorks to create new shows like Dragons Rescue Riders (based on How to Train Your Dragon) and Go, Dog. Go!.
Apple TV+ currently has seven original shows including The Morning Show with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, See with Jason Momoa, For All Mankind by Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore. They will be adding additional shows every month including series from Oprah, M. Night Shyamalan, and J.J. Abrams.
At least initially, Apple TV+ won’t offer any additional shows that aren’t Apple TV+ Originals.
Apple TV+ will be creating feature films for the service. Initially, the only film available is the documentary, The Elephant Queen, but they will debut Toronto Film Festival Hala and Samuel L. Jackson’s The Banker. They will be working with production company A24 on original films going forward.
Apple has partnered with Sesame Workshop to create Helpsters, a series designed to help kids solve problems. They will also be releasing animated series Snoopy in Space and a reboot of Ghostwriter.
When you’re sharing your account with different family members, it’s nice to be able to have your own profile. While most services will use a single log-in, you can set-up a profile that will use your viewing history to customize what content gets recommended to you.
Some services will use it to create a recently watched list, create a custom watch list for shows you want to check out, language preference, and to set a profile specially for kids.
Depending on the service, there is a limit to the number of profiles on your account. For instance, Netflix allows up to 5 individual profiles within a single account, while Apple TV+ up to 6 profiles with their own unique log-in.
Disney+ will allow you up to 7 profiles and even let you choose a unique Disney avatar with each one.
In addition to general profiles, most streaming services have added parental controls. Some like Netflix and Disney+ have the ability to create a special kids profile. This not only locks down the account to just kid’s friendly content, but also recommends shows that are good for children.
When you create a profile on Netflix, you can customize it further to allow show content “For Little Kids”, Older Kids, or Teens.
Others like Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ have general parental controls where you can disallow playback of certain types of shows and movies by rating. Generally, you set a PIN that allows you to unlock or change the restrictions.
Most services are designed to be shared with your entire family. Depending on the service, you can stream on multiple devices at the same time.
Netflix allows streaming on 1 device with their “Basic” (£6) plan, with simultaneous access on 2 devices on their “Standard” (£9) plan, and 4 devices on their “Premium” (£12) plan.
Amazon Prime Video allows you to stream up to 3 different titles at the same time using the same Amazon account.
When you’re on a long flight, nothing is better than being able to watch your favorite streaming service without an internet connection. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Apple TV+ all offer offline access.
Most services offer download access to a certain number of titles (an entire series counts as a single title) for up to 30 days until you have to renew offline access. Disney+ and Apple TV+ is the most generous, which has no limit on the number of downloads, while Netflix offers up to 100 titles on a single device.
Most streaming services are available across major streaming players like Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, gaming consoles like PS4 and Xbox One, Smart TVs from LG, VIZIO, and Samsung, mobile devices on iOS and Android, and major browsers.
Some services have already started to become available on Smart Displays like Echo Show and Nest Hub Max. A full list of compatibility across devices is listed below.
|Prime Video||Apple TV+||Disney+||Netflix|
|30-Day Trial||7-Day Trial||Sign Up||30-Day Trial|
|£6||£5||£6||£6 – £12|
|Amazon Fire TV||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Samsung Smart TV||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|VIZIO Smart TV||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|LG Smart TV||Y||Y||Y||Y|
Apple TV+ has their entire catalog in 4K with support for Dolby Vision, which gives the highest quality video experience. Amazon Prime Video offers their entire original content library in 4K (some in HDR), as well as ~50 feature films.
The lone exception is Netflix, which only offers SD streams on their “Basic” tier. In order to access HD content on Netflix, you will need to upgrade to the “Standard” plan. If you upgrade to the “Premium” plan, you will get access to ~600 titles in 4K including their original series and some licensed content like Planet Earth.
For instance, Dolby Atmos currently only works on Netflix with Apple TV 4K and Xbox One. Prime Video has wider support with access on most major streaming devices like Roku, Fire TV, NVIDIA SHIELD, and Apple TV 4K.
Most streaming services are unavailable when you travel out-of-the country. However, there are some exceptions. If you’ve downloaded shows offline, you will be able to continue to watch them until they expire.
Some services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, are available outside on your home country. You can stream out-of-the country when connected to the Internet, but you’ll only have access to the library of shows available in that country.
In some cases, this means you will get shows you can’t access in your home country and in others, you won’t be able to access some of the shows you can watch at home.