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Technology.

22 October 2021

Best and worst TV streaming services 2021

TV and video streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Disney Plus give you thousands of TV programmes and films to watch at your leisure. Read on to find out which one real customers think is best
YF
Yvette Fletcher
Watching netflix_advice 487023

The appeal of TV streaming services is obvious - rather than shelling out for a cinema ticket, they offer an 'all-you-can-eat' buffet of content to watch online.

Whether you access these services in your web browser, via an app, directly from a smart TV, or are looking to add an internet TV box to your home cinema setup, we can help.

We asked hundreds of customers how they rate the streaming services they use on a range of factors – read on to discover the best and worst.

TV streaming won't be up to scratch without good broadband – read our guide to the best and worst broadband providers. 

Which TV streaming service is best?

To help you weigh up which streaming services might be best for you we've surveyed their customers, asking them to rate key service elements such as content quality, ease of use and value for money. Content quality was where we saw the greatest difference - three streaming services earned our top rating for this, while others were considered more middle of the road.

Which? members can log in to see the scores and star ratings the major streaming services earned in our latest survey. Not yet a member? Join Which? now to get instant access to all of our reviews.

Best and worst TV streaming services


Overall quality of content
Quality of recommendations
Exclusive content
Finding new/relevant content
Ease of use
Value for money
Customer score
83%
78%
76%
75%
74%
73%
72%
70%
Table notes
Based on a survey of 625 people in August 2021. Customer score combines overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend. Customers also rated aspects of service, presented as star ratings.

Why subscribe to a TV streaming service?

Entertaining yourself and your family while at home has become more important than ever, and sometimes that means sitting down to watch a favourite show or escaping in to a good film. 

But with more streaming services to choose between than ever, it can be tricky to pick the option that’s right for you.

Whether you lean more towards The Crown, The Sopranos or The Mandalorian, there's a TV streaming service that can offer the content you want to watch, wherever and whenever you want it. 

Content is king with subscription streaming services - and every provider has its own strengths, such as the latest original dramas, and weaknesses such as dated film selections or confusing interfaces.

While you will have heard of popular services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, there's an increasing number of alternatives on offer with Apple and Disney, plus ITV and the BBC all joining the market.

Where can I use TV streaming services?

Streaming involves playing a video over an internet connection, either using a web browser or an app, on a wide range of devices.  

These can include Android and Apple smartphones and tablets, along with laptops, smart TVs, games consoles and internet TV devices, such as Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

To find out which devices you can use with each service, head through to our individual guides:

How do TV streaming services compare?

Our table provides a quick snapshot of what each service offers and how much it costs. If you have a busy household, it's worth weighing up the number of screens you can stream on simultaneously, while those who are regularly on the move will want to opt for a service that permits downloads.

TV streaming services compared


Amazon Prime 
Video
Apple TV+
Britbox
Disney+
Netflix 
(Standard)
Now TV 
Entertainment Pass
Cost (monthly)
£5.99
£4.99
£5.99
£7.99
£9.99
£9.99
Free trial
30 days
7 days
7 days
Not offered
Not offered
7 days
Max resolution
4K
4K
1080p
4K
1080p
720p
Max # of screens at once
3
6
5
4
2
1
Max # of devices per account
unlimited
unlimited
unlimited
unlimited
unlimited
6
Max # of devices for downloads
25
unlimited via app
4
10
2
6

Ultimately, the best service for you is likely to come down to content - each streaming service has a slightly different offering, but all offer exclusive content to hook you in. 

Netflix may be the first option that springs to mind, but now Amazon Prime and Now TV also offer widely used services – and they’re all similarly priced. Still not sure which might suit you best? Read our full reviews for Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Now TV to find out more.

Fortunately, several services offer a free trial of at least seven days, allowing you to get a taste for what's on offer. Plus most services use monthly rolling contracts that you can easily cancel if you're not happy - you're not locked in long-term.

What internet speed do I need to stream TV online?

As you'll see in our TV streaming service reviews, you can get away with having a weak broadband speed and still stream the content. However, the video quality might not be the best if you have a poor connection.

We would advise you to have at least 1Mbps (megabits per second) broadband or higher if you're streaming content in standard definition (SD). If you want to watch in high definition (HD), you’ll need a faster connection of at least 5Mbps to enjoy the higher video quality. To find out what speed internet you're getting, use our handy broadband speed checker tool.

Some services, such as Disney+ and Netflix, now offer content to stream in 4K Ultra HD quality, giving you four times the detail of regular HD. For this, however, you may need fast broadband of at least 15Mbps.

Most video on-demand services use 'adaptive streaming' technology – this detects your broadband speed and automatically adjusts the video quality so that you're not hit by buffering (where the video freezes and a little loading wheel spins). The video may start at Full HD 1080p, but if your bandwidth is struggling it may drop down to a lower quality (720p HD or even SD) to keep playing.

If your broadband is particularly slow there may be things you can do to improve it - read our guide on how to speed up slow broadband to learn more.

Do TV streaming services use a lot of data?

They can do. For example, streaming a two-hour Full HD film could gobble up more than 6GB of data (and a huge 14GB if it’s in 4K Ultra HD).

Fortunately, the majority of people are now on 'unlimited' broadband packages, but if you're using your service on your mobile device you'll want to be careful. The risk is you’ll use a huge amount of data and patchy signal coverage could affect the video quality, so it's best to use wi-fi where possible to avoid exceeding your data allowance and having to pay extra. Use our guide on how to keep track of your data and minutes to ensure you're not hit by an unexpected - and unwanted - bill.

Can I download content on streaming services?

Yes - most services will let you download content to watch when you don't have an internet connection, though they generally limit the number of devices you can use for this. Amazon Prime Video will let you download content onto an impressive 25 devices, while a standard plan from Netflix is limited to two. Being able to download content is a handy feature for enjoying content when you're offline, such as on holiday or while commuting.

If you're on the hunt for content to watch offline, catch-up TV service BBC iPlayer also offers this feature. You don't directly pay to use iPlayer, but you will need a valid TV licence.

Browse our Best Buy TV streamers to find the cream of the crop.