Streaming services in 2021 including Prime, Now and Netflix and how to catch Disney's new Cruella film in May
With Danny Boyle's Sex Pistols series having been commissioned by US-based FX and Disney's much-anticipated Cruella re-make set to premier simultaneously both in cinemas and online, streaming services and TV subscriptions have perhaps never been so popular.
We take a look at the mind-blowing number of options now available to viewers and share more about how and when to catch big releases...
Now, BritBox, Prime, FX, BT, hayu, All 4 and My5.
No, not the latest stream of Line of Duty acronyms but instead the names of just some of the online streaming services and channels currently available to film and television fans.
Offering an eye-watering number of films, box sets, programmes, sports and documentaries, there is the option to watch what you want whenever you want (almost) and to be among the first to see some much-talked about TV.
And after the last year, there are perhaps few households who haven't been glad of the opportunity to escape pandemic life with some top comedy or those who have whiled away a fair few hours of lockdown, binge watching series after series of a show recommended by a friend.
According to Ofcom, Netflix and YouTube are among the country's most watched or streamed channels alongside BBC and ITV, while moneysupermarket.com estimates that at least half the country now signs-up to at least one service.
But, putting aside the catch-up services connected to mainstream channels BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, how much would it set you back to subscribe to most, if not all, of the subscription services currently on the market and are you then guaranteed to catch the latest must-watch show or unmissable sports match?
How much do they cost?
The ability to watch some otherwise unavailable television channels or sports coverage, through the internet, is a very popular option, particularly for those who don't have huge cable packages.
Offering contract-free access to some of the biggest TV shows and sporting clashes is Now, formerly Now TV, available via an app or a dedicated smart stick for an extra charge, much like the Amazon firestick or Apple TV box.
Owned by Sky, the streaming service can also be bought and watched through other devices including gaming consoles Xbox or Playstation.
It enables you to build a tailored monthly package offering everything from sports channels and children's shows to movies and thousands of reality programmes.
And whilst bundles and deals are available regularly, along with free trials, standard prices range from £33.99 a month for Now Sky Sports Membership, £11.99 for Cinema, £9.99 for a Now entertainment package and £3.99 for the latest children's shows.
Alternatively, sports fans can instead opt for a £9.99 day membership – granting 24 hours of access to Now Sports – but unless your team played fairly sporadically or you're interested only in the occasional big-name derby clash, it'd only take just over three games to be back at the £33.99 monthly charge for wall-to-wall coverage.
BT Sport is another offering access to much sought contests that aren't shown on mainstream channels.
Here, a monthly pass costs £25 – giving subscribers 30 days of BT Sport available to watch via the web or app, contract free and without the need for its broadband service.
For film and box set fans Netflix remains king of the streaming services in the UK, charging £5.99 for a basic package up to £13.99 a month for a four-screen premium option.
Whilst there's no doubt that Amazon Prime's £7.99 monthly charge may also rank highly as a quarantine must-have, not just for its ability to deliver emergency items direct to your door within 24 hours but for the access to thousands of on-demand films and TV shows Prime Video comes with.
Those looking to cross the household divide and appeal to everyone from the tots to the teens, might feel Disney Plus is also a popular contender for space in the monthly outgoings, now £7.99 per month as of February this year.
The increase – up from £5.99 – coincided with the arrival of Star, which has brought with it more adult shows such as Ugly Betty and Family Guy.
And whilst that £7.99 gives you access to thousands of films, TV shows and documentaries, your direct debit fee may not always give you everything on offer at the House of Mouse.
Catching big new releases
As a result of the pandemic and the subsequent closure of cinemas worldwide, Disney+ has already trialled bringing some of its biggest blockbusters to the streaming channel for an additional fee. Last year's hotly anticipated release of Mulan was eventually forced to bypass a cinema release and instead cost subscribers who wished to watch the film an extra £19.99 to access it.
Pixar's Soul was also set for a cinema-release following its premier at the London Film Festival but when the pandemic hit and screens closed it went direct to streaming with a very popular Christmas Day premier.
And next month's scheduled release of its new blockbuster Cruella, based on the 101 Dalmations character Cruella De Vil who will be played by Oscar-winning actress Emma Stone, is also expected to take a similar path.
Disney+ is set to offer subscribers the chance to watch the new movie from the comfort of their own home, for an extra Premier Access fee just like Mulan, at the same time as the film hits soon-to-be reopened cinemas.
Taking new shows or films to streaming services, like Disney has done, is an excellent way to tempt new subscribers.
Whilst putting their catch-up options to one side, the BBC and ITV came together a few years ago for joint venture BritBox. The channel, which can be streamed for £5.99 a month, showcases the best of British comedy and included in its UK launch the much-anticipated revival of 1980s' satirical puppet show Spitting Image to draw-in its first viewers.
Music fans who didn't catch the much-talked about Framing Britney Spears documentary when it aired on Sky could stream a repeat of the show via Now's subscription service whilst it is 21st Centry Fox subsidary FX which has commissioned Danny Boyle's series Pistol.
The six-part series, based around the life and career of punk rock legend and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, is initially expected to air in 2022 on FX, which is at the moment available via US-based streaming service Hulu.
According to comparison site Finder.com the global revenue of video-on-demand services equates to an estimated £40.1 billion, of which £1.5 billion comes from the UK with services making approximately £45.44 per user every year.
And as for polishing up on those real Line of Duty abbreviations – series one to five are currently available to rewatch on Prime.