Is Netflix worth it? I’m not convinced

By | April 25, 2022

Hello

I don’t know about you, but one of my guilty pleasures (once the kids are in bed and I’ve got some peace) is to sit and watch a bit of nonsense on the TV.  Streaming services like Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ make it easier than ever to find something you like.  Rather than having to wait for something to come on the TV, you can choose what you want to watch and play it across the internet.

At the moment, I’ve got a subscription to Amazon Prime, which I’ve had for a long time, and one to Disney+, which I took out for the boys during lockdown.  I don’t begrudge paying for them – they have some great series on them that you can watch whenever you like, and they’re significantly cheaper than the licence fee.  I’m watching Grey’s Anatomy at the moment, which is on Disney+ (all 400 episodes of it!), so that should keep me entertained for a while.

The slightly frustrating thing about watching TV this way, though, is that most films, series and documentaries are only on one of the streaming services.  I was talking to a fellow parent at Alastair’s taekwondo class last week about Star Trek.  He’s a bit of a kindred spirit when it comes to all things geek, and he was surprised to hear that I’d never seen any of the new Star Trek series.  I haven’t seen them, because they’re only on Netflix.

Taking out multiple subscriptions can get very expensive very quickly, but I decided to have a look at what you get for your money from Netflix – and I was a bit surprised.  Netflix started the whole TV streaming gig, and for many years they were very good value for money, but I’m not convinced any more.  They’ve put their prices up this month and scrapped their 30-day free trial for new members a while ago.  

For either Amazon Prime or Disney+, you pay £7.99 a month at most.  If you pay for a year in one go, it’s cheaper – around £80 for the year.  That gets you HD or 4K quality video on both services, and with Amazon it buys you a whole load of other things as well (free next-day delivery on shopping, music streaming, an ebook library and various member-only deals on their shopping site).  

For the same video quality on Netflix, it now costs a full £10.99 a month, with no reduction for a year’s subscription.  That’s over £50 more expensive than the others over the full year.  You can get a subscription with lower video quality for £6.99 a month – which is just slightly more expensive than the other services over a full year – but you will see the difference on a modern TV.

Netflix are also stingier when it comes to sharing your account with the rest of your family.  For the standard £10.99 price, you can have two different shows playing at the same time (say one on the main TV and the other on your son’s iPad).  But the £6.99 subscription is one-device only.  With Disney+, you can have four different people watching things on your account at the same time – and they don’t need to be in the same physical household – so it’s genuinely a full family subscription.

Netflix are starting to really crack down on sharing as well.  Netflix’s policy on sharing accounts is that you can only use the same account if you live in the same household.  They’ve started using various techy tricks like checking the IP address of your wi-fi router to tell whether or not you’re in the same building.

I think it might back-fire on them though.  Because at the same time as raising prices and cracking down on account sharing, Netflix are losing content.  As more streaming services pop up, they’ve got more competition – so films and TV programmes that have been on Netflix for years are disappearing to other services. Higher prices might help their bank balance in the short term, but they might just find they start losing customers to Disney.

As for Star Trek Discovery (which my taekwondo friend reckons is brilliant), I’m thinking might take out a couple of months of Netflix at some point and watch an episode every night.  It works out cheaper than buying the series, but I’m not likely to keep my subscription any longer than that.

Of course, if you don’t fancy forking out for any of these subscription services, there’s nothing to stop you using the free streaming apps.  Services like ITVHub, All 4, UKTV Play, Pluto TV and IMDB TV all have free films and TV on-demand – you just have to sit through some adverts.  Or if you don’t fancy the adverts either, you can watch BBC programmes whenever you like through iPlayer (although you do need a TV licence for that).

Yours
Julie Wakeling

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