Netflix or Lovefilm?

Netflix, the online streaming service that took America by storm, has finally arrived on UK shored. Unfortunately for them, they took their sweet time getting over here – giving the entrenched DVD rental service Lovefilm plenty of time to team up with Amazon and get their own online streaming service up and running.

30 years ago the VHS vs Betamax conflict happened, a clash that came to be known as the cold war that ended with the fall of The Soviet Union. At least, that’s how I remember it from History class. I wasn’t really paying attention. Now, in the 21st Century, who will win the epic fight for your hard earned 5-odd quid?

The Short Version;

Netflix

Lovefilm

  • HD Streaming and Surround Sound
  • Better TV content
  • Accessable on just about anything that can connect to the internet
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  • DVD Quality streaming
  • Stereo Sound
  • Much better library of movies, especially outside of mainstream cinema
  • Accessable with just about everything that can connect to the internet
  • Better selection for younger kids

Lovefilm VS Netflix, Round 1: It’s the content, stupid.

In terms of Raw numbers, both Lovefilm and Netflix are a bit cagey with their figures – LoveFilm boast around 6000, while Netflix brags about 10,000+. Having the bigger number of titles really doesn’t mean anything though if half the library consists of titles that places 5th in the Scunthorpe GCSE Media Studies Film Festival, though.

Netflix

If your like me and would rather watch South Park for days on end rather than making something of your life Netflx has you covered. In fact, for TV shows, Netflix is a good replacement for creating dangerous leaning towers of DVD boxsets.

British TV is well represented, with most of BBC and C4’s best hits represented, particularly on the comedy front.  US content is a bit less comprehensive than their US counterpart, presumably because Sky has spent years gobbling up the rights to everything, but there’s still plenty of gems to be had – DVD Boxset-binging classics like 24 and Prison Break are present and correct, and crucially they have THE WHOLE OF KNIGHTRIDER. Yes!

Kids TV has a good range, although a lot of the shows are pretty old at this point, and the volume of Mid-90s action shows make me wonder if the target audience is less kids and more 20something Manchildren like me. Yeah, I watched Power Rangers for 3 hours. Big whoop.

Movies-wise, both streaming services are only ever going to get titles once their potential DVD and Bluray markets have been completely milked.  That in mind, Netflix’s range somewhat resembles the range of films you’d expect to find at Cash Convertor – Plenty of good titles, but some really odd omissions as well. In the mood for Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible? Well, you’re in luck! Netflix comes stocked with, um, MI:2 and MI:3. I get why – with a new Mission Impossible coming out recently and apparently being quite good, they’ve probably repackaged the first film to flog for £5 next to the supermarket checkout, but for anyone who hasn’t seen the series its still an odd jumping in point.

Still, for those who enjoy something a bit left of mainstream, Netflix is very well stocked, especially on the documentary front, with plenty of gems to be found.

World Cinema is well represented, particularly for Martial Art film fans. (I hope you like Jackie Chan. Based on the amount of his films, I assume he’s a shareholder), and Bollywood fans are well served on Netflix as well.

Cons:

·      Some glaring omissions, particularly in their Hollywood range

·      Fans of classic cinema aren’t particularly well served, with a smattering of Hitchcock and not a lot else.

Pro’s:

·      Goldmine of TV & DVD Boxsets, particularly from the BBC and C4.

·      International, indie and Documentary cinema very well represented – a great place to discover new content

Try Netflix’s library free for 30 days

Lovefilm

Lovefilm are less cagey about the volume of content on their service (7997 titles all in all – 4405 TV and 3592 Films as of this writing (23rd Aug) – and their advertising is all about the hits, with films like Batman: the Dark Knight, Kick Ass and Twilight front and center.

TV has been historically a weak point for LoveFilm, but they’ve made some pretty big strides in this space. On the US side of things, unlike Netflix, Lovefilm have ABC on board, meaning you get trolled by the writers of Lost all over again. Also, Buffy, for those of us who prefer our vampires to be non-sparkly.

British TV is a bit weaker than Netflix – BBC’s content is well represented, and unlike Netflix, some of ITV’s dramas can be found as well. C4 is apparently on board, but most of their recent hits seem to be missing.

The Kids range seems more targeted to a younger audience – More Pingu, less Power Rangers, making Lovefilm the better choice for those of you with younger audiences. The ‘Teen’ section is a bit thin on the ground (I hope they like Buffy) but then there is plenty of age appropriate material out there.

Movies are where Lovefilm shine, though. As with Netflix, new releases aren’t going to appear on Streaming services, but one advantage with Lovefilm is that for a couple of quid extra you can add DVD rentals to your package, giving you access to the new releases as well as classics.

Classic cinema is much better represented than on Netflix’s meager offerings, which is more than welcome. In fact,  LoveFilm is well named – It’s definitely the service for movie buffs.

Away from the hits, there’s a good range of documentaries, although Netflix probably has the edge here. Where Netflix most certainly doesn’t have the edge is World Cinema – While Netflix’s range leans heavily towards Martial arts, Lovefilm has a much broader range. Lovefilm’s classic library extends to foreign cinema as well, giving a pretty comprehensive range of foreign films.

Cons:

  •  Limited TV range
  • Older kids aren’t very well catered for
  • No Power Rangers

Pros

  • More Hollywood big hitters
  • Bigger range of classics films

Try Lovefilm’s Library Free for 30 days

Conclusion

It’s really down to taste on this one – Netflix has the edge on TV content, while LoveFilm is probably the better choice for folks who love….erm, films.

Try out their libraries free for a month: Netflix free trial / LoveFilm free trial.

Netflix vs Lovefilm UK: Streaming Quality

Netflix

Lovefilm

  • SD streaming
  • HD 720p Streaming
  • HD 1080P Streaming
  • Surround sound
  • DVD Quality streaming
  • Stereo Sound

Yeah, Netflix has an edge here with their HD content, although on my tests there was occasional buffering (BTInternet, 12mbps, Wifi with full signal) while LoveFilms lower rate meant everything played without issue. Of course, this might have been an anomaly on Netflix’s part – it was hardly a scientific study. If your planning to watch on a computer or tablet, it realistically doesn’t matter – if you’re planning to watch on a 40” OLED TV, though, you’ll probably want to stick with Netflix for the time being.

Netflix vs Lovefilm UK – Access Beyond your computer

Yeah, I could hook my laptop up to the TV, but, well, that’s a pain. Fortunately, both LoveFilm and Netflix are busy trying to get their respective players onto every device under the sun.  ‘I wish I had a handy guide to what devices work with which service!’ you say.  And I say ‘Behold my mighty copy/pasting skills!

 

Netflix

Lovefilm

  • PS3
  • Wii
  • Xbox 360
  • LG, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung Blu-ray players
  • LG, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung Smart TVs
  • Apple TV
  • Most Android Devices
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Windows phone
  • • iPad
    • Xbox 360
    • PlayStation3
    • Sony TV
    • Samsung TV
    • LG TV
    • Cello TV
    • Samsung Blu-ray player
    • Sony Blu-ray player
    • LG Blu-ray players
    • Sony Home Cinema
    • Digital Stream set top box
    • Sony Network Media Player

This list is forever changing – chances are, if you can connect a device to the TV and the internet, it can probably play both.

 Want a free 30 days trial for either service?

Netflix Free 30 days trial

Lovefilm Free 30 days trial