/ Technology

Are on-demand TV services worth the money?

LoveFilm logo

Is it worth paying for a subscription to an on-demand TV service? Whether it’s LoveFilm, Netflix or NOW TV – do you pay a monthly fee to access on-demand TV?

Now, this isn’t some kind of eulogy for trawling the malware laden mire of torrent or pirate websites, or a call to reject all digital entertainment entirely. Rather, it’s a genuinely open question; namely, do LoveFilm, Netflix and NOW TV offer good value for money?

Demand more from on-demand TV

Subscription video on-demand services offer access to a library of movies on a variety of devices, ranging from the latest titles to cherished flicks from yesteryear.

Unlike catch-up TV services, such as the ‘free’ BBC iPlayer or ITV Player, the likes of LoveFilm and Netflix offer archives of already broadcast TV shows, spiced up with brand new, original series and digital exclusives (Breaking Bad finale, anyone?).

LoveFilm Instant and Netflix cost around £5 a month, while the Sky-owned NOW TV is priced at £9 a month (just for films).

All three services have their pluses and minuses, but as these media giants scramble for new subscribers, do they really offer enough value to be another mouth to feed on our household expenses?

Is a subscription worth the money?

So, I want to hear from subscribers of LoveFilm, Netflix, and NOW TV on why they value their subscription, and what makes it worth the money.

If you shun a subscription service and instead prefer to just pay for the content that you want, using services like Blinkbox or Knowhow Movies, I’d also like to hear from you. Are these a better and cheaper option or do your pay-as-you-go purchases add up to more than a fiver a month?

Let us know your thoughts about on-demand TV and we’ll feature the best comments in Which? magazine.


I refuse to use services like that when they advertise and use the word unlimited, as they try to imply its an unlimited number of films, when its actually a very limited number of films you can watch an unlimited number of times. Hugely misleading.

e,g,Netflix: “Unlimited Films & TV episodes, Netflix members can instantly watch unlimited films & TV episodes streamed to their TVs and computers. Taken from their website.”

For a start there’s only ever a finite number of films and TV episodes in existence at any one time so the use of the word unlimited is completely invalid, especially as they’re trying to make out that

My £6 a month for Netflix has allowed me to watch the entirety of Breaking Bad, House of Cards and Arrested Development since I signed up in February. Definitely worth it, especially as all three shows are exclusive to Netflix now!

Mrs H says:
18 October 2013

We are currently into our first month of Netflix, it’s ok but films are so dated and there is not a lot of choice. Considering all the great movies that have been made over the years, I can’t understand why there are so many naff films are on here. Children enjoy it, don’t know how long I will be using this service.

Anon the Mouse says:
21 October 2013

Have a look at VPN services, a click of the button and you have access to other countries Netflix. The new avengers film is in the US. The newest Batman is in Sweden.

Phil says:
18 October 2013

Netflix means there is always something to watch even if it is old!

Above all…..

It gets me away from SKY!!!!!!

As a Netflix subscriber and Breaking Bad addict, I personally think the subscription cost is incredibly low. I very rarely watch TV ‘live’, and instead rely on Netflix and services like iPlayer to keep me entertained when it’s raining outside.

However, I’m a big fan of box sets and US drama series, as well as old British comedy like Red Dwarf. I can get plenty of this on Netflix that I don’t think I’ll run out any time soon. As Mrs H highlights, if there are only a few films and programmes that take your fancy, then a subscription’s not worth the money. My Mum was deciding whether to take out a sub to a film club, and in deciding whether it was worth it she got a long list together of recommendations of films she should watch from friends and family, added a few of her old favourites, and used that list to judge whether she’d get her money’s worth. In the end she decided against it, as only a few of the films on her list were available.

Anon the Mouse says:
21 October 2013

We use Netflix, Youtube, DVD/Bluray and Free on-demand services for all our TV needs.
It’s so freeing being able to just go that looks interesting, PLAY, or that’s on YYY this week, I’ll just watch it now.
And lets not start on adverts, it’s been 6 months since we had an advert interrupt what we were watching.

I have two children aged 9 and 3 and I was worried that they might not like going streaming only (no live TV). I was wrong, they love being able to watch a show they want, when they want.

David Lockley says:
10 November 2013

I have recently subscribed to Netflix and so far fairly impressed. I agree the film choice could be better but hey, use a VPN and access Netflix USA or wherever. The TV is very good, I have already watched all 65 episodes of Breaking Bad, Google charge £1.89 an episode. For the cost of a couple of DVD rentals it is very good value.

One thing I’ve not read about either in Which? or elsewhere is the technical quality of the films from the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm. I love my HD tv with surround sound home theatre system but my experience of video on demand is that the picture quality is poor compared to a blu ray version of a film. I’m probably in the minority but high picture quality is a must for me.

Sian says:
6 December 2013

These services are great for us as a family. As there are different ages and intrests everyone can watch what they want but they can also be used as a film night where we all sit down together to watch a film. It works out cheeper than renting a film. It is all depending on the internet service though that is why I had to get an unlimited internet service.

I managed to subscribe to Now TV without realising I am now committed to paying £8-99 per month. How did that happen? I don’t remember anything on the box about it, and did not see the figure appear on the screen when I set the thing up. I must have had 3 months free subscription before the fee kicked in – which means it’s too late for me to do anything about it.
I did think the point of the machine was to give me the option of buying products and I guess it was too good to be true – and I like to think of myself as a savvy shopper!
Oh well, I shall cancel at the first opportunity,

I now refuse to sign up to anything “free” if they ask for my credit card details, just so I avoid falling into that trap. It’s a far too common practice, that should be outlaw’d. So there you go which? another one for you to campaign about.

Just please don’t tell me what goodies I’ve been missing out on, as I don’t want to question that tactic.

Good luck cancelling