Netflix Versus LoveFilm – The Battle Of The UK Movie Streaming Services

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netflix vs lovefilm ukWith Netflix having recently launched in the UK, it looks like consumers are going to have to make a choice between the established Amazon-backed LoveFilm, and the newcomer Netflix. Which is the best? Let me break it down for you – and let me say that there is a clear winner here.

This review is UK-centric, and refers throughout to the UK launch of the Netflix service, as well as UK-only service LoveFilm.

Key Differences

I should say first that LoveFilm actually bears more resemblance to the American Netflix in that they can send you DVDs too. In fact, they even rent games by post, similar to the American GameFly service. LoveFilm do however offer a streaming-only account level, which is what I will be reviewing today, but it shouldn’t be considered as their core business model. Of course, if you are looking for a service that will send you DVDs, Blu-Rays and console games by post, then your only real option in the UK is still LoveFilm.

Netflix on the other hand is a purely streaming service in its UK incarnation.

Pricing: (Winner – LoveFilm – But Not By Much)

  • Netflix: £5.99 a month
  • LoveFilm: £4.99 a month (“LoveFilm Instant”, streaming only service)

Quality: (Winner – Netflix)

Though it varies by movie, generally Netflix will stream in HD quality where available, whilst LoveFilm is stuck on standard definition. This might not be noticeable on an iPhone sized screen, but on a 50″ plasma it makes a big difference. Though I havent done extensive testing yet, it seems a lot of titles on Netflix have closed caption subtitles, very useful for those hard of hearing (or with foreign wives).

Clients: (Winner – Both, Leaning To NetFlix)

Both Netflix and LoveFilm offer streaming clients on the following devices:

    • iOS: Both are fairly similar functionally, the nature of iPad and iPhones generally leading to simplistic interfaces that get the job done. I found less streaming problems with Netflix though; and like all the Netflix clients, your most recently watched movies are presented first to let you easily pick up where you left off.

netflix vs lovefilm uk

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    • The LoveFilm client is decidedly clunkier, and always requires a full iPad restart for me to start without crashing.

netflix vs lovefilm

    • Xbox 360: Both are well integrated with the new Metro style dashboard, though I lean slightly toward LoveFilm with its superior voice control (you can say the name of the movie rather than just “Play 3″)
    • Online: Not only does Netflix make a rather good attempt to suggest movies I might like, it also presents them in an easy to view, at-a-glance DVD cover gallery style. This is an interface to be proud of.

netflix vs lovefilm

    • Unlike LoveFilm, which insists on listing multiple episodes of the same TV series, and makes no attempt to customise the experience. The covers are small, mountains of text/synopsis are unreadable, and it’s just not a fun experience.

netflix vs lovefilm uk

  • PS3 and Wii clients: also available, but untested by me. Let us know in the comments if you have any opinions on these clients, please.

Movie Selection: (Winner – Netflix)

LoveFilm shows me there’s about 3,000 films in their streaming selection, but unfortunately Netflix refuses to give actual numbers, so this judgement is going to be made purely on anecdote.

I logged into both LoveFilm and Netflix to see if there’s anything I wanted to watch. I’m a big fan of comedies, but in the LoveFilm latest comedies selection I honestly found nothing I wanted to see, or hadn’t already watched (outside of LoveFilm). Netflix on the other hand – a full page of fantastic looking movies I’ve never seen!

It’s difficult to judge this long term though, as inevitably that will depend upon how much fresh content is added every week. From what I can see at the moment, there’s enough in Netflix to last me quite a while yet.

Summary

We have a winner. If cross-device movie streaming it what you’re after, I can’t give a more shining recommendation to Netflix. It’s a more polished affair, with higher quality streaming, a far better selection, customised (and actually good) recommendation engine, and simply a pleasure to use. The streaming service from LoveFilm has always felt like something tacked on, while their core business remains physical DVD and console game rentals. Netflix is a tiny bit more expensive, but it is – in this reviewer’s opinion – utterly worth it.

What’s your experience? Have you tried both? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments (45)
  • barry nuggets

    Streaming Lovefilm on ps3 is incredibly slow to start playing, very unpleasant to use and of poor quality, so bad infact that they really should not have bothered. Netflix on
    ps3 on the other hand is absolutely fantastic.

  • Gemma

    love Netflix but my boyfriend was disappointed with the lack of new films. We have just changed to Lovefilm and although they have newer films the streaming is diabolical. It buffers every 2 mins and when bought to Lovefilm attention they said its my connection. Arm no it isn’t Lovefilm. Netflix doesn’t buffer once during a film and my connection speed is 4.9mb. U only need 2mb for Lovefilm. They need to sort this. I am tempted to go back to Netflix. At least I could watch a film with no interruptions. Netflix need to get newer film rights and do a dvd combo package and they would wipe the floor with Lovefilm

    • Darren

      Had Netflix from day one up until about two weeks ago when I ran out of films to watch they never really add to the library only seem to hold around a couple hundred films as the titles all appear more than once under different genres wtf?!? Took out lovefilm when Netflix was rInsed much more content to be had here and for the extra can rent out by post too a choice of tens of thousands of films noticed no real quality issues and for the price of a new release blockbuster rental of half a cinema ticket is an absolute bargain for streaming only will definately stick with lovefilm … Only gripe is no streaming app for iPhone but soon fingers crossed :)

    • Darren

      Netflix IMO is rubbish had a subscription from day one of uk coverage and the lack of content is outrageous (unless you love budget chuck Norris or dolph lundgren movies) in which case you will love it lol only hold a couple hundred films on their database as most genres list all the same movies never a blockbuster to be found either whereas lovefilm hosts over 3000 movies to stream wireless plus for an extra couple of pounds can rent by post too which wacks it up to around 70000 movies :) the streaming have never had an issue with and the quality is nothing to complain about either only gripe is no iPhone streaming app yet ( fingers crossed tho its in the pipeline ) trust me guys for the film buffs out the it’s lovefilm all the way otherwise netflix is ok for the occasional viewer but limited to b movie tosh mostly …

  • Tiffie

    Awesome review! I would just like to clarify however, as someone has already said iOS is limited with LoveFilm, Netflix does iphone and ipad however LoveFilm only does ipad, also, the 4.99 pricing only gives you a limited amount of streaming on ipad a month, for unlimted its 9.99, whereas Netflix is 5.99 unlimited. Price is a clear winner for Netflix for me I’m afraid!

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.