It was in the news the other day that streaming media has now overtaken traditional pay TV watching in the UK. I can’t say I was looking to ditch my BT TV subscription until they put the prices up (again) that is.
I’ve managed to switch to Vodafone broadband for £22 a month which along with canceling BTTV left me with £18 a month to spend on streaming services per month whilst avoiding the price rise! BT did very nearly match the £22 a month fibre unlimited price from Vodafone but I’d had enough of dealing with them by that stage. They were also not able or willing to negotiate or renew my current TV deal which meant it was going to go up by £2 a month.
So then having had a look around at what’s available I found out what can you get for £18 a month in terms of streaming TV at the moment. It turns out it’s quite a lot. In reality all I really wanted was Discovery and National geo family of channels, is that too much to ask ?
- If you know someone with a Netflix account the first thing to do is see if they will let you share their login. Netflix allows 4 simultaneous streams on the top UHD enabled account. They even allow you to set up multiple profiles so different users can keep track of their own watch list etc. I think it’s really meant to be with in a single household but it works.
- Now TV have released a new ‘Streaming stick’ this is a simple HDMI dongle that plugs into a spare HDMI input and connects via WiFi. Up until last week they were on sale for £15 along with 2 months of subscription to the entertainment package. The cost of the hardware is effectively free, you even get a Sky store voucher worth £5.49. The HD stick is 1080p ready and Now TV is supposedly going to become full HD later this year. As well as 4 months included with the two sticks I bough I managed to end up with 4 months at half price because I tried to cancel my renewal when a free trial turned out to be chargeable. Now TV has Discovery and National Geo. wild.
- Amazon prime is quite good and you can get Discovery channel on that now. as part of an add on channel (not live though) Since I don’t really need prime I went for prime video which saves £2 a month ( £5.99) Well I say that, I’m currently on a 3 month free trial of Discovery any way, which is not bad I guess. You can’t get National Geographic at all on Prime however
The real fun now starts as you try to figure out the optimal devices on which to watch all these services on. Firstly you can of course what all of them ( even BT’s offering) on your computer or mobile device. You may run into problems with getting HD on external monitors on Mac.
The YouView box already has the Now TV app but it doesn’t even support the full 720p resolution.YouView dies have Netflix though and BT say Prime video is coming later this year ( not sure if that stands true if you are jumping ship ). I have a Chromecast which works OK with Netflix and Now TV although not with prime (unless you cast the whole desktop), I prefer the Now TV sticks since you get a nice and simple remote control and ‘6ft interface’ The Now TV stick also has access to Sky News HD ( which is also available on youtube BTW)
The Now TV sticks are supposedly getting a Netflix app this year as well as the 1080p streaming upgrade( the stick itself already streams 1080p from YouTube)
It seems that my old PS3 is the fallback for all services at the moment, it is finally getting some good use. I supports Now TV, Netflix and Prime although you have to use the game controller ( first world problem I guess ). The Amazon with Alexa stick costs more than double what the Now TV stick did and only supports prime so I can’t really justify that.
There are plenty of things not to like about BTTV besides the price hikes by the way I won’t go into that here ! Suffice it to say they can stick their £5 a month charge to use Chromecast from their app LOL !
One final consideration, Vodafone use the original 40/10 openreach fibre product whereas BT provided a slightly faster ( on my line anyway) 55mbps but I can’t see that really being an issue. To stream UHD you need 25mbps but then I don’t even have a UHD TV (yet 😉 ) Vodafone does away with landline call packages and dodgy cloud storage that does not work properly on a Mac, not to mention BT WiFi which is more trouble than it’s worth now you can get 1p MB PAYG data… Vodafone also offers minimum speed guarantee and will actually refund money to you if they don’t meet it!