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

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featured netflix vs lovefilm   Netflix Versus LoveFilm   The Battle Of The UK Movie Streaming ServicesWith 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).

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

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

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

    • 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.

online netflix   Netflix Versus LoveFilm   The Battle Of The UK Movie Streaming Services

    • 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.

online lovefilm   Netflix Versus LoveFilm   The Battle Of The UK Movie Streaming Services

  • 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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45 Comments -

Eloise Pasteur

My biggest issue between the two was that the Love Film cheap tier (no DVDs in the post) didn’t distinguish between DVD only and streaming available very easily. It did mark them but I would have loved a way to only display the streamable content.

Although I didn’t explore every nook and cranny, if you’re after a streaming service, Netflix seemed to have more content than Love Film from where I did look. Add a nicer interface (and the fact that the Love Film price is a special deal at the moment) and I kept Netflix and waved bye to Love Film quite quickly.

James Bruce

I’m pretty sure you can narrow down the selection on the website if you select watch online -> with package, then use the genre etc selections on the sidebar to narrow down further.¬†

Although, this really just goes to prove how bad the interface is!

Good decision~

Hunter Watts

Streaming to me is just a nice added feature to LoveFilm. 
If you want a stream only service then Netflix is really the only option.

James Bruce

Exactly, but, that’s a shame. LoveFilm is in a position to really offer competition to NetFlix on the streaming site, but utterly let down by their infrastructure and website. If they stick to DVD rentals only, do you really think they’ll still be around in 3-5 years? The physical media thing is dying, we all know that…

Terryanderson

Having recently signed up with netflix I found this review pretty helpful considering that i was contemplating on maybe trying out Lovefilm. 

The only issue I have with Netflix is that they are a little shy at adding new titles but apart from that, the service does exactly what it says on the tin.

Will Lovefilm prove to be a more popular option over netflix, i would say yes, but only becuase of the “brand”

James Bruce

I think the Netlifx brand is stronger than LoveFilm by far, but perhaps I have a more global and tech oriented perspective on things than most Brits would. 

chatman

“a more global and tech oriented perspective on things than most Brits would.”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

James Bruce

By which I mean I’ve lived 8 years in Japan, with mostly American and Canadian friends. Netflix as a brand still isn’t that strong to the UK public, I dont think.¬†

Anonymous

The LoveFilm streaming service is looking pretty shabby tbh (on a PC/Mac). Once you’ve found something you want to watch with the search function(i.e. a series), you can’t sort by name to get the series in order (or if you can, I’ve missed that button).

I’ll probably cancel my membership next month because the discs are now taking 2-3 days to arrive as well.

James Bruce

Spot on. 

I actually rarely watched the DVDs. Really only ever used it for xbox games, and was finding that increasingly I needed to buy an online pass anyway. It was a good option when there’s a slowdown in games, but right now there’s so many fantastic games worth buying for multiplayer alone that LoveFilm just doesn’t seem worth it anymore.¬†

What really annoys me is the hardsell when you go to cancel. Try it, have fun. They’ll try adjust your plan first, then offer you a month free, then “speak to the supervisor” and offer two months free. Such a joke.¬†

Anonymous

Yeah totally agree, however I struggle to get any of the games through I actually want to play. Have been waiting for Assassins Creed Revelations for about 2 months now.

Last time I cancelled, I did it out of hours online and it was done there and then. Maybe they don’t have anyone manning the lines at 2am, or maybe they don’t want me as a customer ;)

Either way, I’ll just give them an excuse they can’t twist around on me. My brother told them he was emmigrating when he cancelled a few years ago and that stopped the hard sell in it’s tracks :)

christian

i have had both services and i must say after signing up to netflix yesterday i can say in my opinion netflix is the best of the 2,my 2 little girls have never been as quite as they were yesterday.they were sat watching kids stuff all day,that was the problem with lovefilm that there was not enough to entertain them,or me.and yes most of the netflix content is in h.d which is nice too.the only thing what was pulling me towards lovefilm was the fact of not been able to rent movies/games and blue ray,games been top of the list,but still i went with netflix,hopefully netflix will start the renting games thing very soon in u.k cos thats what will keep me paying in the long term,its what i want most from netflix is the disc games rental and blue ray so we will have to hope they do this,if not only time will tell if i am still using the service.

James Bruce

Not that I approve of letting kids watch netflix all day, but it certainly does seem to have enough content there~

Nick

Am I not being fed all the correct information when browsing on Netflix because from what I can see there is less than half the amount of content on Netflix compared to lovefilm.netflix is so far behind on the movie scene,I feel like I’m back in the 80’s!

James Bruce

How are you browsing? The selection is older when compared to DVD realeases on Lovefilm, but theres certainly *more* content there.

Anonymous

Having used LoveFilm streaming for over a year ¬†(on PS3/PC and Mac) and complained several times to them about the poor UI on the PS3 (only allowing 100 films in any list, thereby negating a successful A-Z browse!) I was amazed at how smooth the Netflix experience was. ¬†and whilst the Netflix search is limited on PS3 (and Wii) ¬†it is still easier to find something to watch…I also love that I can pause on my PS3 and pick up the movie moments later from exactly the same spot on my phone as I change rooms. Its recommendation algorithm also hasn’t made too many mistakes yet either…LoveFilm let me down again when I saw that they had ABC TV series on PC for streaming, but I can’t watch them on my PS3….FAIL!

James Bruce

So many fails from LoveFilm make it a clear loser… thanks for the input OneRedDot!

Essemess

Just trying the Love Film trial now on the PS3. The content doesn’t seem too bad but the interface is terrible!

I also noticed that the a-z lists were limited and there’s also no way you can use the little keyboard that attaches to the PS3 joypad as they don’t use PS3 API.

I’m generally a fan of Amazon but in this case I’m going to give Netflix a go.

Stephen Greenhalgh

To my knowledge Netflix streaming is available across both iPad and iPhone whereas Lovefilm streaming is only available on iPad.
Also I have Apple TV and Netflix is the only one available on that platform at present.
Easy choice.

James Bruce

Excellent point, thanks for the info!

Tom Trainer

How do you watch downloaded content on your TV?

James Bruce

I have a media center PC hooked up to it, as well as an Xbox

Tssss

Who ever gets there app first on a pansonic TV in the UK will be the winner

James Bruce

I doubt it. A tiny subset of Tvs, a tiny subset of which will have a specific app. No, internet-enabled TVs are a joke for the most part. I don’t think I’ve ever even tried the “app” functionality of my TV.¬†

Havnadoo

i have them both on trial, but i reckon i’m going to stick with lovefilm!

Netflix has some good content, but for £2 more i can also have unlimited dvd rentals, so not only can i stream a movie when i feel like it i can watch new releases too.

And i think lovefilm and netflix will be adding a whole load of better content in the very near future, just to compete with each other….

the only problem is the kids, they love netflix, so hopefully lovefilm will start adding more childrens stuff shortly or i’m in trouble :(

James Bruce

Fair point, I’d like to see how lovefilm responds.¬†

Doive1231

Er….Netflix has hardly any decent movies. I thought it was joke similar to YouTubes sample movies. Really, really poor but then what do you expect. Glad it’s only a free trial. Only watched the Office US.

James Bruce

Well, obviously that’s a subjective matter, so sorry to hear that. I suspect our taste in movies is very very different – especially if you like the US version of office, which is on my personal “avoid like the plague” list ;)

Esi

I’ve had LoveFilm instant for a week now and I am already struggling to find anything in their collection I want to watch. There is a limited range of pay-as-you-play extra ones but most movies I want to watch are only available through post. I will definitely consider Netflix in the near future.

James Bruce

I never even considered the extra fee ones, especially since I was on the ¬£15.99/month for rentals too plan. Absolutely recommend switching. My past week has been full of this little gem called “dollhouse” I discovered on netflix (forgive my ignorance, I’ve been out of the country for 8 years!). Only, it got cancelled after just two seasons! Why do they do that to such awesome shows, dammit!

MSP

Well, having tried both this month I feel the content selection to be superior on Lovefilm. BUT…having my ability to watch on the TV via a recently purchased, and somewhat expensive AV adapter and HDMI cable disabled through the Lovefilm apple app, I will most definitely be continuing with Netflix and ditching Lovefilm.

Albert

You can indeed search under actor on netflix.

Patrick

Lovefilm does not let you stream to your I-Phone, Netflix does support this which is great as I usually watch it when on the bus to work.
However, I prefer the Lovefilm application to the Netflix application when streaming through my PS3 as you can also search for a specific Actor whereas you can only search for film name on Netflix.

Lee

Have trialled both and whereas Lovefilm wins the day with content level, the inability to watch on an iPad connected to a TV is a deal breaker for me, and I would guess for others also.

Netflix is happy to run on the iPad connected via av cables on a tv. So, with a family wishing to watch together, and not wanting to cram around a Sam. iPad, Netflix wins in our house!

Sprinterd1989

both are decent netflix good movies easy to use iphone compatible gd for when on the move but lovefilm u can rent games so personally i would go for lovefilm because i like to rent games before i spend 40 pound on a game no more after (alan wake) terrible game also on lovefilm i couldent find anything i wanted to watch but if u like to stream movies netflix is the option i have both 1 for game rentals 1 for movie streaming hopefully netflix does game rentals soon then ill ditch lovefilm i think 

Simon Heartfield

Tried both free trials and I think they’re both pretty unimpressive at they stand.¬† Didn’t like LoveFilm’s pricing structure at all.¬† Netflix looked good at first glance with some interesting TV titles like Twin Peaks but appears to have a risible “choice” of only 70 films in the horror section for example. Also, the same titles show up in multiple genre lists.¬† Will not be taking out subscriptions unless either service improves significantly.

VFR

Trying Lovefilm, very disappointed to see it does not support Apple TV from streaming to the iPad. Unless they fix this I will drop it as this is a deal breaker. They say it is for copyright protection but allow you to watch on a TV via streaming to a laptop so that excuse sounds disingenuous to me. So, Lovefilm a serious hole in your offering given that IPad is made for this type of thing.

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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!

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 …

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.