Subscription vs Pay-per-view
With the advent of home entertainment companies such as Netflix or LoveFilm, we're all now able to watch films and TV programmes online instantly.
You don’t download the content, but play it live on your PC, mobile phone, tablet, or even your TV - anytime, anywhere as the companies like to say.
The main advantage of streaming is that you get instant access to thousands of films and TV programmes 24/7.
The two main types of video on demand services are subscription and pay-per-view.
Subscriptions can be great value as you can watch as much as you want for a flat fee. But they often lack the latest film releases – for this you'll need pay-per-view.
This can be quite pricey – individual films can cost more than £5 in HD. And, once you start watching one you typically have only 48 hours to finish viewing it before it's deleted.
Follow our guide if you want to complain to your home entertainment provider.
- Subscriptions can be great value as you can watch as much as you want for a flat fee. But they often lack the latest releases
- Pay-by-view can be much pricier but generally have a better range of options
- Ensure your broadband connection is fast enough first
- Look out for free trials so you can try the service before deciding whether it's for you or not
- Remember to cancel before the free trial is up if you decide against the service, otherwise you'll be charged
Added costs to streaming
Before considering streaming, you need to make sure your broadband connection is fast enough and that your package allows you a generous download limit.
If it doesn’t, then you risk getting hit with extra costs.
As the average film lasts 90 minutes and will use around 1.5GB, you may find that your GB download will be limited and you could be charged up to £5 per GB should you exceed your limit.
This is especially true if you're on one of the cheaper broadband packages and could mean that it's quite easy to incur a fine.
Check your provider's terms and conditions first before being caught out.
Free Netflix and LoveFilm trials
With subscription services you pay a monthly service to watch as much as you want.
Neither Netflix nor LoveFilm Instant tie you into a contract, and they both offer free trials. So it's worth signing up just to see if the package on offer is suitable for you.
Lovefilm, for example, allows all new customers to sign up online a free 30-day trial.
You'll need to give your credit or debit card details before signing up, so if you want to cancel you must do so before the 30 days elapses.
If you don't you'll probably be charged a monthly fee, depending on the package you've signed up to.
Blinkbox, on the other hand, has no monthly contract. You just pay for programmes as and when you want to watch them – a pay on demand service.
If you want to cancel your contract after a free trial period, use our template letter.
Any home entertainment package which requires you to first provide a valid credit or debit card number, involves what is referred to as a recurring payment.
Effectively, you're consenting to let money be taken regularly from your credit or debit card.
Unlike a direct debit, a recurring payment isn’t as easy to cancel, although you do have the legal right to cancel.
Minimum broadband speed
The terms and conditions of streaming sites will state the minimum broadband speed required.
It’s important you have what's required, as the company wouldn't be liable if, for example, your film was forever buffering due to not having a suitable broadband connection.
But if your connection is suitable and your service is forever buffering, then the company would be liable for not providing you the service you've paid for.
So, it's best to first check that your broadband package will be able to successfully stream a film and that you have a generous broadband limit.