Is Netflix worth it? That’s something more of us are likely to be asking in the coming months as the cost of living crisis really bites. When there are so many other streamers offering compelling content, often for less cash, does Netflix still have what it takes?
Let's find out. Here I compare Netflix to its competitors as well as looking at the pros and cons to what the streaming service provides.
Netflix vs other streamers: how much do they all cost?
Netflix plans range from $9.99 to $19.99 per month in the US and from £6.99 to £15.99 in the UK. The cheapest plan is standard definition and you only get 4K in the most expensive package. Different plans have different usage restrictions too: the basic plan can only be used for one screen at a time and you can only download shows to one device, but Premium is good for four – although Netflix is planning to stop account sharing so all those devices will soon need to live in the same house.
Rivals are generally cheaper, sometimes considerably so. Apple TV is $4.99/£4.99 or free with an Apple One bundle. Disney+ is $7.99/£7.99. Prime Video is either $8.99/£7.99 or free if you already have a Prime subscription. Hulu in the US starts at $6.99; Now TV in the UK starts at £9.99. HBO Max, the most expensive of the Netflix rivals, still slightly undercuts it at $14.99 per month.
Netflix vs other streamers: which services have the best shows and movies?
I don’t think it’s fair for me to say that X streamer has better content than Y, because so much of this comes down to personal preference: the shows I’ve enjoyed most recently have been on Apple TV+ and Amazon, but my eldest can’t wait for the new Netflix series of The Umbrella Academy and we’re both going to watch the final season of Better Call Saul, also on Netflix.
But from my perspective I’d say that Apple has a better hit rate with its originals, although it offers far fewer programmes; Disney+ is better for family viewing and for the Marvel franchises that Netflix can no longer offer; and Amazon is better for movies and edgy shows such as The Boys. In the US, HBO Max has a similarly sized catalogue to Disney+ and a strong selection from WarnerMedia properties including Warner Bros, New Line Cinema, DC and CNN.
I subscribe to a whole bunch of streaming services because of my job, but if it weren’t for that I think I’d do with Netflix what I’ve already done with Now TV: finish the series I want to see, which right now is the final season of Saul (for Now TV it was Yellowjackets), and then suspend my subscription until the next hit comes along. It’s not that Netflix is bad. It’s that its rivals got really good.