Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video vs Now TV: Disney+ to go live in November for $6.99

Long awaited streaming service will be rolled out once company has all the rights to its content

Online streaming through services such as Netflix, Sky's Now TV and Amazon Prime is becoming more and more commonplace. It all but drove rental chains like Blockbuster out of business, and a new generation of ‘cord-cutters’ are now choosing to watch everything on-demand, with no traditional TV service at all.

In fact, Netflix now has almost 118 million global subscribers, and plans to spend $8 billion on new programming to keep them satiated in 2018. Amazon is making similar investments, reports have suggested, with a rumoured annual investment of $5 billion in video content.

Meanwhile, Now TV sets itself apart with access to sports programming such as football and Formula 1, which don't appear on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

But with Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Now TV, Hulu, the BBC iPlayer and more all vying for your attention, how can you tell which one is the best? We put the two biggest players up against each other to find out.

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12:04:2019: Disney+ to go live in November for $6.99

The Walt Disney company has announced its much anticipated Disney+ streaming service will be available later this year for a price of $6.99 ($69.99 per year) - but only in America.

It is hoped the service will be rolled out to other markets but that will take a little longer as the company is still in the process of claiming rights to its content back from other streaming platforms. According to Disney, this could take as long as four years as it will most likely have to wait for most of these deals to expire.

Disney is aiming to break into a market currently dominated by Netflix, a service which has lots of Disney content such as Marvel films and TV shows, but if it is to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, it will need all the best content it has.

The launch took place at an investors day, on Sound Stage 2 on the firms iconic Los Angeles campus, which is where the original Mary Poppins was filmed.

"Today's presentation will show you where we're going, but also remind you that we are starting from a position of strength and optimism," CEO Bob Iger said.

When it does eventually launch, the service will bundle together some of the most popular films and TV shows available, including the Marvel cinematic universe, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic - not to mention all your favourite Disney films. What's more, having acquired Century Fox, Diseny+ will also incorporate shows like the Simpsons.

Over the last few days, there has been a glut of new show announcements, particularly for its Marvel franchises with character spins offs, but unlike Netflix, which invests heavily in new content, Disney+ won't have any straight to streaming movies. Last year, the company brought in $7 billion in box office revenue, which is a core part of its business. So initially it will keep its big-name content off the service until well after its traditional theatre run.

So for example, if Disney+ was available today, its remake of the Lion King wouldn't - at least not until it's finished showing in cinemas.

27/02/2019: BBC and ITV to launch streaming service in UK to rival Netflix

The BBC and ITV have confirmed plans to launch a streaming service to rival Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Called Britbox, the service will feature UK TV series such as Broadchurch and Doctor Who as well as exclusive content commissioned by the service. The service should have access to both broadcasters’ back catalogue of content.

At present, Britbox is available in the US and Canada for subscribers paying $6.99 a month to access British TV.

Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, said that she was pleased that ITV and the BBC are at the concluding stage of discussions to launch a new streaming service.

"BritBox will be the home for the best of British creativity - celebrating the best of the past, the best of today and investing in new British originated content in the future,” she said.

 BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, said that a new streaming service would deliver “the best home-grown content to the public who love it best”.

“The service will have everything from old favourites to recent shows and brand new commissions. It’s an exciting time for the viewing public,” he added.

Channel 4 and Channel 5 are also said to be in talks over joining the venture. The BBC and ITV will be talking with Ofcom and the wider industry about their proposals.

Currently, there is no word on when the service will start or how much it would cost subscribers.

Ten years ago, competition regulators in the UK blocked Project Kangaroo - a similar UK video on demand service to BritBox. This allowed the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime to dominate the UK streaming landscape.

09/08/2018: Half of adults now use streaming services

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has revealed almost half of all adults use paid-for content streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Now TV.

The figures were revealed in the ONS' annual Internet access report. Some 49% of adults have watched paid services over the last year, which is up from 29% compared to 2016. However, the biggest jump is for those aged between 16-24 years old, rising from 55% to 81%.

Even free streaming services such as YouTube have seen large levels of growth, with YouTube's viewing figures up by 13% in the last two years. The majority (62%) of adults said they watched at least one video on Google's free video platform in the last 12 months. And, 13% more men than women used the internet to stream TV and films for free, the report revealed.

Although the number of people using the internet to stream TV and video content has increased substantially, it's still not used as much as people send or receive emails, which was carried out on a regular basis by 84% of adults interviewed by ONS. The second most popular internet activity was shopping online, which 77% of the UK population said they had done in the last year.

26/7/2018: Netflix redesigns its user icons

Netflix is going to redesign its profile icons to something a little more modern - and you'll even be able to swap one out for a character from one of your favourite Netflix TV shows, it's confirmed.

The flat icons haven't changed for the last five years, so it was about time the company gave them a facelift. New touches include giving the aviator profile picture some rather snazzy gold sunglasses, some shading to the panda, and the addition of more colours to the penguin and the inclusion of female superhero icons. In total, there are more than 100 profile icons to choose from.

The company has also introduced some of its most-loved characters as profile pictures, including Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black, Luke Cage, Kimmy Schmidt and Eleven from Stranger Things.

"Profiles are key to creating a highly personalised Netflix experience," the company wrote in a blog post. "By watching on your own profile, we can showcase suggestions for TV shows and movies we’re sure you won’t want to miss. We’re always working to make it easier for our members to connect with stories they’ll love and creating your profile is the first step."

Netflix plans to launch the new profile icons to users on mobile, desktop and smart TVs in the coming weeks.

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