Best streaming services 2023 UK: Netflix, Apple TV+ and more – The Independent

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Whether it’s films or shows, here’s our pick of the best online streaming platforms around
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There’s more to streaming than Netflix
The streaming service boom shows no sign of slowing down. Netflix, once the king of streaming, has seen itself swamped by competitors in recent years. In fact, there has never been a bigger selection of streaming platforms than there is in 2023.
On 3 August, the UK media regulator, Ofcom, revealed that the proportion of people watching a traditional TV broadcast every week had declined from 83 per cent in 2021 to 79 per cent in 2022, marking the steepest fall in TV viewership since records began. Many of these viewers have switched to streaming services such as Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ or have binned their tellies altogether.
And while some platforms have raised their prices in recent years, others are luring in viewers with exclusive shows and films that feature star-studded casts, better value plans, higher quality video streams and the option to view shows offline.
As well as the big hitters, there are also flexible streaming services like Now, who lets viewers build their own subscription by picking and choosing from a selection of plans – whether you want to watch the latest movies, TV shows or live sports. And, of course, there are free streaming platforms like All 4 and BBC iPlayer that have grown their catalogues of films and classic TV boxsets so much since launch that they’re now a serious alternative to paying a monthly subscription.
Whatever you’re in the mood to watch, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best streaming services to suit a range of tastes, taking into consideration their cost, ease of use, and their best exclusives.
The king of the streaming services is still the best all-round solution to watching TV shows and movies on demand. While it’s one of the more expensive streaming options in our list, the company recently launched an ad-based tier, which is fairly inexpensive. Still, a near-psychic recommendation algorithm, unbeatable exclusive shows and a constantly refreshing library of new and classic content ensures you’re never short of something to watch.
With the platform’s push into original programming, Netflix is also now the only place to watch some critically acclaimed TV shows, including animated comedy BoJack Horseman, Eighties horror hit Stranger Things, and high-concept comedy-drama Russian Doll. You have to sift to find the real gold however – a recent spate of Netflix Original turkeys might make you hesitate before hitting that subscribe button.
Watch Netflix nowD
Launched to deafening fanfare in the UK in 2020, Disney’s streaming service is currently rocketing in popularity thanks in large part to The Mandalorian and WandaVision, two series which were among the most talked about television shows of the past. The voracious media empire’s catalogue includes almost every entertainment franchise going, from The Simpsons and animated Disney films both classic and modern, to box office blockbusters from the Marvel and Star Wars universes.
Such a broad selection of favourites, from Frozen to Captain America, makes Disney+ the best streaming service for families. There are some holes in the content library – not everything under the Disney umbrella is on here – but if you, or someone in your home, is already a huge fan of Disney, this platform has plenty to offer.
Watch Disney+ now

Amazon’s own streaming service crept in through the back door, as anyone who was paying for an Amazon Prime subscription for its one-day shipping option also unlocked full access to Prime Video and Amazon Music. Since launch, Amazon Prime Video has grown to become the second biggest streaming platform in the UK, expanding its streaming catalogue to include a bunch of highly rated original programming, such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Expanse, and The Boys.
Much of the content on the platform can only be rented or bought for an extra charge, which is frustrating when searching for something to stream for free. The Amazon Prime Video interface is tricky to navigate and persistently highlights paid content ahead of free streams, but learn to negotiate its menus and your reward is a streaming service excellent enough to topple Netflix.
Watch Amazon Prime Video now
Apple doesn’t make it easy to understand the difference between Apple TV and Apple TV+, so let’s try to clear up that confusion. There’s the Apple TV product, a physical set-top box you plug into your TV. There’s the Apple TV app, which comes installed on iOS devices and pulls together content from other streaming services into one place. And then there’s Apple TV+, a stand-alone, Netflix-style streaming service where you can watch Apple’s own original programming.
The choice of shows to watch on Apple TV+ is growing rapidly. The streaming service only hosts its own, self-made, big-budget originals, though there are rumours Apple is planning to license older shows to bolster its catalogue. If you’ve bought an Apple device recently, you’ve likely been given a year’s free access to Apple TV Plus, so it’s worth checking out some of the better rated shows in the library, such as the Jason Sudeikis fronted comedy Ted Lasso, workplace satire Severance and the action-packed thriller Hijack.
Watch now with a seven-day free trial of Apple TV+
New subscribers only. £6.99/month after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled.
While sometimes overshadowed by flashier premium services, the humble BBC iPlayer remains one of the best streaming services in the world thanks to its expanding collection of world-class titles from British telly and beyond – and it’s free for anyone who pays for a TV licence. It’s the only place to catch up on some of the best shows on telly right now, including the entire boxset of British cop drama Line of Duty.
BBC iPlayer is also home to internationally acclaimed shows like Normal People, Killing Eve and the multi-award winning Fleabag. The platform has top movies available to stream (though usually only briefly) and offers on demand access to most CBeebies content – a lifeline for many parents.
Watch BBC iPlayer now
Now (formerly called Now TV) is a streaming service operated by Sky, and whose catalogue of shows most notably includes big hitters from HBO and Showtime. The service soared in popularity at the height of Game of Thrones mania, when it became the only place in the UK for non-Sky customers to watch the show live (it became so popular in fact, that the streaming platform infamously crashed during the season finale). Since then the streaming service has improved immensely, and it’s been home to brilliant shows like the unmissable docu-drama Chernobyl, the adaptation of The Last of Us and science-fiction horror Dark.
Now uses “memberships” to give viewers access to different sections of Sky’s enormous library of movies and TV shows, as well as live entertainment and sport, so you can mix and match to create a streaming service that suits your tastes, and all without locking into an annual Sky contract. Now is a flexible streaming platform with a selection of reliably exceptional shows.
Watch Now now
We blame All 4 for the invention of the word “bingeable”. Channel 4’s ad-supported, free streaming service is the place to catch up with the absolute finest reality television the UK has yet created, including Made In Chelsea, Naked Attraction, Gogglebox and The Great British Bake Off.
All 4 isn’t just a catch-up service. There’s an eclectic selection of brilliant shows to be found in the archives – including complete box sets of classics like ER, The West Wing and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – as well countless episodes of world-class comedies like Derry Girls, Peep Show and Taskmaster. The app is available on most devices, and allows certain shows to be downloaded and viewed offline.
Watch All 4 now
Like every other live venue across the country, the pandemic left the National Theatre facing an existential threat. When theatre audiences were unable to attend in person, the company turned to novel ways to fund itself and continue paying actors and staff. And so the National Theatre at Home – a streaming platform allowing viewers to watch beautifully produced live recordings of a selection of stand-out plays from a handful of associated London theatres – was born. Its success during the pandemic was such that the theatre decided to continue running the service even as crowded venues reopened.
There’s the option to rent a single show or subscribe to unlock the full catalogue, which changes from month to month, and currently includes a breathtaking performance from Andrew Garfield in the epic Angels in America, and enduring stage classics like Amadeus. National Theatre at Home might not be the ideal way to watch theatre, but it’s the perfect stopgap for those who can’t visit in person or who missed out on some incredible live entertainment.
Watch National Theatre at Home now
ITVX is the ITV-owned streaming service, where all of Britbox’s content moved to. While ITVX is free, you can get ITVX Premium to access all of the Britbox content, including around 290 box sets of classic British TV shows like Doctor Who and ‘Allo Allo, as well as over 60 films including such classics as Attack The Block and, who could resist, the entire set of Carry On films.
Though much of what’s available here can be found for free on iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, you can’t fault the service’s laser sharp focus on British entertainment – and unlike those rival platforms, Britbox can be streamed abroad in the US and Canada.
Watch ITVX now
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