Every now and then on this Blog I reflect on subscriptions, most recently in this piece about Netflix (June 2019). As predicted, at the end of our free trial month we continued to subscribe to the service, and still do. Unlike some of the services that I have subscribed to, for month after month without getting any value from them, Netflix has been used by at least one member of the family pretty much every day over the last five months.
First, we caught up with all the remaining episodes of “Friends”, much quicker than they were being screened on free-to-air TV, and my daughter watched every available episode of “Anne” (or “Anne with an E”). During the summer holidays we worked our way through all six series of Channel 4 comedy “Friday Night Dinner”, the first four on Netflix, the last two on 4OD, Channel 4’s catch-up service. My son was particularly annoyed that we couldn’t forward through the adverts on 4OD, having got used to an ad-free experience on Netflix, but there were some shows that we watched half-a-dozen times or more.
More recently my wife and daughter have, between them, seen all 12 series of “The Big Bang Theory” on Netflix and are now going through them again. My daughter is also catching up with “Glee”, a show that I had never seen, and which she was too young to watch when it was first broadcast. She is part-way through Series 3, and I have seen maybe half of the shows with her.
Currently Netflix provides far more hours of viewing for us than NOW TV, which we use for live sport. NOW TV costs nearly three times as much per month, but my continued justification for paying this is the cost of the alternative. Watching a game in a pub will set me back at least a tenner (two pints of beer), and usually much more. I have never felt comfortable sitting in a pub for two hours nursing an orange juice in order to see my team. Most of the time I would rather watch at home, and most months there is still enough coverage of the teams we follow (Leeds United and Ireland football for me, Arsenal for my wife and daughter) to justify our monthly subscription.
Another regular subscription which we can easily justify is Amazon Prime, which is annual rather than monthly. This pays for itself in December alone with the number of items that come with free delivery rather than paid post and packaging. This month Prime has also moved into the business of screening live football. For some fans this could incur a third set of payments (on top of BT Sport and Sky Sports / NOW TV) but for us it feels like we’re getting something for free. The only previous sport that I have watched on Prime is US Open tennis, in the autumn, but it’s not a tournament that I devote much time to.
The first round of Premier League games broadcast on Prime last week allowed viewers to select from a number of concurrent live matches, a whole new way of watching England’s top division. Unfortunately for my wife and daughter, as Arsenal fans, Prime simply provided another means of witnessing their team’s current slump in form, and an unprecedented home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.
Based on our recent experiences I can report that the streaming quality on Prime (sound and vision) has been far superior to that provided by NOW TV. It also plays through a browser, not an App that needs to update itself every few months. More than once I have missed the start of a game on NOW TV because I only allowed 10 minutes to log in and launch the App, and its updates took a whole lot longer than that. I note too that Prime Video includes, at no extra charge, a range of films that I actually want to see (including this year’s Oscar winners “Green Book” and “If Beale Street”). I should watch them soon, while they’re still free.