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Disney+ had arguably the most serendipitous streaming service launch of all time, coming to the UK on March 24 2020, just as lockdown commenced and millions of anxious parents fretted about how they were going to entertain their housebound children.
Now one of the leading streaming services in the UK, nevertheless there are still those who believe the platform is purely for children or family households, not adults.
The launch of Star aimed to redress this, as Disney+ has now doubled it's content library, introducing films and TV programmes aimed solely at adults. The price of the streaming service has risen from £5.99 per month to £7.99, still less than Netflix's £11.99 per month. You can sign up here
What is showing on Disney+ Star?
Star means Disney has released 75 additional TV series and over 270 movies to the streaming platform in one day, with new titles to be added every month.
As aforementioned, these are designed to be more adult fare. Film wise, that means titles such as Borat, Braveheart, Cocktail, Die Hard, Pretty Women, The Favourite, and the Grand Budapest Hotel are landing.
Over on TV side, Star will see the release of fan favourites like 24, Firefly, Family Guy, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, Lost, Prison Break, and the X-files.
Over time Star Originals will also be added, including crime thriller Big Sky from Big Little Lies and The Undoing creator David E. Kelly.
What about other, non-Netflix streaming services?
Netflix has been the market leader for subscription streaming services in the UK for so long now that it's considered a default – indeed, 'Netflix' is often used as a synonym for TV. We talk about “watching Netflix” more frequently than “watching telly” now.
But with that level of fame and ubiquity comes a certain a degree of over-familiarity: after all, how often do you and your housemates sit, scrolling through Netflix, unable to find anything you feel like watching that you haven't watched already?
Don't get us wrong: the streaming service has it's place. But if you're looking to trial an alternative, either to augment or replace, here's our take on the other paid streaming services within the UK.
Notable shows: The Mandalorian, Wandavision, The Simpsons, National Geographic, The X Files
Notable movies: The Marvel Franchise, the entire Disney and Pixar back catalogue, Hamilton
We won’t mince words: if you have a child in your household (or, indeed, a teen), Disney + is a godsend.
This is hardly shocking news: the backlog of every Disney and Pixar movie, the Star Wars Franchise, everything Marvel Studios has ever made (if you’re unfamiliar, they’re the superheroes who make quippy comments), 31 Simpsons seasons, the Mandalorian, the Frozen movies - anyone under 18 is bound to find hours of entertainment from Disney +.
What surprised us about the platform is how much content is there for those post their teens. From the recording of Broadway sensation Hamilton with the original cast (yes, it’s as good as everyone says), to the delightfully daffy ‘The World According to Jeff Goldblum’, and the National Geographic documentaries, it was better suited to us than we anticipated.
With the addition of ‘Star’, Disney + incorporated an age-gated section aimed at adults. It hosts classics like Lost, 24, Desperate Housewives, Prison Break, The X-Files, Atlanta, Black-ish, and How I Met Your Mother.
We started watching Disney+ last July 2020 with a plan to cancel after our free trial – all we wanted was to watch Hamilton. Since then it has become our most-utilised streaming service, and we wouldn't even consider being without it.
We found the service free from glitches. Shows pick up from where you left off. Fun, if you’ll excuse the cliché, for the whole family.
Free seven day trial, then £7.99 per month with no contract. Sign up here
Number of shows: 1000 movies and more than 750 TV shows
Number of profiles per account: 7
Maximum streams at one time: 4
Playback available: HD and 4K
Compatible with: Smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, TV streaming devices
Notable shows: Seinfeld, Handmaid's Tales, Vikings, The Expanse, This is Us, Jack Ryan, The Boys
Notable movies: Knives Out, One Night in Miami, Widows, Sylvie's Love, The Gentleman
In terms of selection, Amazon Prime offers plenty to smile about. From the wry New Yorker inspired comedy show Modern Love, to the hit series Jack Ryan and This Is Us, cult success The Boys, to the phantasmagoric American Gods: there are some excellent exclusive shows here, and a wide, rotating range of films - not to mention the opportunity to rent literally millions of titles.
The TV section is essential for lovers of sci-fi - there are some great original titles.
Where Amazon Prime falls down is on its user interface. Firstly, we found that on various devices the website would start buffering about 15 minutes into a film, and continue to buffer sporadically throughout the movie. This, as you can imagine, is quite irritating.
As a further bugbear, it doesn’t pick up from where you left off in a series if you navigate away from Prime which, given how ubiquitous this is on other platforms, seems like quite the oversight.
And while we’re griping - shows start with an ad for another show elsewhere on the service. You can skip them, but let’s be frank: if we wanted ads we’d watch terrestrial TV, Amazon.
Amazon prime is £7.99 per month, after a free thirty day trial period. It is included with an Amazon Prime delivery account, though, so if you order a lot of packages it is worth your while. No contract. Sign up here
Number of shows: Thousands of movies and TV shows
Number of profiles per account: 6
Maximum streams at one time: 2
Playback quality available: HD and 4K
Compatible devices: Smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, TV streaming devices, set-top boxes and games consoles
Notable shows: The Sopranos, Succession, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, Mare of Easttown, The Flight Attendant, Your Honor
Notable movies: Promising Young Woman, Bad Boys for Life, The United States versus Billie Holiday, Cats, Bridget Jones’ Diary
Now (formerly Now TV) serves as Sky’s no-commitment streaming platform, allowing you access to myriad Sky content and to tailor a package to your preferences.
Their passes are divided into genres, from Sky Cinema (£11.99 p/m), Entertainment, that is, TV, (£9.99 p/m) Haiyu, that is, reality TV (£3.99 p/m) or Kids (£3.99 pm).
We love Now for their superlative HBO back catalogue, which is brilliant for catch up or re-watching prestige drama and comedy, from The Sopranos, to Chernobyl, Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, to Curb your Enthusiasm - and Succession, one of our favourite TV shows of all time.
Their streaming app is a little temperamental - it can forget your place in a film - but the superb content library makes up for that. Aside from the excellent telly, and sports (if you’re after live sports, they have you covered), their film selection is extensive and well curated - they’re purchasing more and more exclusive content (such as Promising Young Woman) making them a reliable platform to scour if you’re after a cinema fix in the evening. Cineastes will find a variety of bona fide classics and new releases that far surpasses what you can find on Netflix.
Number of shows: 1000 movies, 300 TV box sets, live sports
Maximum streams at one time: 2(3 with boost)
Playback quality available: HD and 4K
Compatible with: Apple, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Smart TVs, YouView, BT TV Box, Now TV, web browsers
Apple TV +
Notable shows: The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Dickinson, Servant
Notable movies: On The Rocks, Greyhound
One of the newer kids on the block, an Apple TV+ subscription comes free for a year with any new Apple device – and of course, that's worth taking advantage of.
Apple have money to burn and it shows in the production values of the shows they make – The Morning Show is a slick proposition with Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carrell in a deliciously tawdry, smart look at behind the scenes of morning television. And Ted Lasso is a warm-hearted joy.
What Apple+ TV doesn't have is a deep reservoir of content. It's also not compatible with Android, or games consoles.
At £4.99 per month for those who haven't recently bought anything Apple, it's a cheap option – but you don't get a huge amount for the outlay. If we were being cheeky, we'd recommend doing the free seven day trial to see if there's anything you really want to get into – then spend a month working through it, paying a fiver. You won't need much longer than that, and you can cancel anytime.
You can also share your subscription with up to five family and friends using the Family Share Function.
Free seven day trial, then £4.99 per month. No contract. Sign up here
Number of shows: 25 TV shows and movies
Number of profiles per account: 0
Maximum streams at one time: 6
Playback quality available: HD and 4K
Compatible with: iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, TVs that support AirPlay 2, Samsung smart TVs, computers and Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices