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Sifting through the stream: The definitive guide to streaming platforms in Ireland

Sifting through the stream: The definitive guide to streaming platforms in Ireland
Rob Flynn

Rob Flynn

Staff Writer

There are now several subscription-based streaming services available in Ireland with Disney+ joining the cavalcade in early 2020.

There's a plethora of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services currently entertaining Irish audiences. But with a range of different shows, movies and packages to choose from it's become pretty difficult to know where to start when trying to choose one!  

So, we've decided to sift through the top streaming platforms to bring you the definitive guide to the biggest and best of the SVOD services currently available in Ireland.

1. Netflix 

Price: €7.99 - €15.99 per month

Netflix - now almost an eponym to refer to streaming services at large - was founded all the way back in 1997 when Americans Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings joined forces. 

Netflix began its humble journey in DVD rental and sales, joining the streaming revolution when it first introduced streamable content to its subscribers in 2007, now over a decade ago.

The streaming services we are now all familiar with have been pioneered by, or at least have taken some inspiration from, this aforementioned Streaming Colossus.

Offering

Netflix still offers a 30-day free trial period as part of its streaming package but at this stage it probably doesn't really need to, with well over 150 million subscribers worldwide. Conveniently, customers will be reminded three days before their trial ends, and you won't be charged so long as you cancel at any time before your 30 days are up.

Netflix has three distinct streaming plans. All three include ad-free unlimited programmes and films, and you can cancel at any time.

The Basic plan starts at a relatively inexpensive €7.99 per month, which is hard to argue with when you take into account the sheer scale and bank of content that's now available to view. This plan however only allows you to stream on one device at any one time and does not include streaming in high definition or HD.

The Standard plan starts at €11.99 a month and includes all of the above plus HD streaming and the ability to view on two devices simultaneously - handy for roommates sharing in college or couples at home.

The Premium plan, and coming in on the more expensive side of things at €15.99 a month, is certainly tailored towards families. Again this plan comes with all of the above but with the inclusion of Ultra HD streaming and the option of multi-device streaming on up to four devices at any one time.

As well as being able to stream content from multiple devices, online or using the Netflix app, subscribers have the added option of saving data by downloading episodes of their favourite shows to watch offline or while on the go - pretty neat.

2. Amazon Prime Video

Price: €5.99 per month

The next big-hitting streaming service likely to roll off the tongue of anyone asked is the increasingly popular Amazon Prime Video. With just over 50 million subscribers worldwide, Prime Video places a clear emphasis on original content, developed in-house through Amazon Studios.

Available in Ireland since the end of 2016, readers might remember the great launch of ‘The Grand Tour’, one of the more memorable Amazon originals, which was the tongue-in-cheek follow-up to ‘Top Gear’ from messers May, Clarkson, and Hammond. Other popular shows of late include the multi-award winning ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ as well as the Ridley Scott produced 'The Man in the High Castle', based on a novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick.

Offering

Unlike Netflix, Prime Video offers only a week’s free trial. The service is on offer for a very reasonable €2.99 a month for the first six months and increases to €5.99 a month thereafter.

The lower prices may be indicative of the lack of more mainstream movies and shows as are available on Netflix, but its bank of material is of substantial quality nonetheless. And notably, many of the movies made by Amazon have been widely lauded, including ‘You Were Never Really Here’ starring Joaquin Phoenix, and a remake of Dario Argento’s horror classic, ‘Suspiria’.

Like with Netflix, a subscription to Prime Video entitles subscribers access to ad-free unlimited movies and TV shows.

Prime Video allows subscribers to stream in HD, 4K, and even 4K Ultra HD (for more recent additions to the catalogue) at no extra cost. To check what TV shows or movies are compatible with 4K or HDR streaming just click into your selection and the presence of the little 4K or HDR icon will let you know.

If all this still hasn't won you over, as well as all of the above, Amazon has agreed a deal with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) to show all the top-tier men's tennis tournaments over the next few years, including the US Open in New York as well as the year-end finals in London.

Prime Video is a great service with an increasing bank of top-notch shows. If your interests lie with original content and giving Hollywood a run for its money then Prime is definitely a worthy addition to Netflix if you're happy to fork out on a second subscription. However a bugbear is that a lot of content is still only available in the US so this is something to be aware of before signing up for a specific show or movie.

3. NOW TV

Price: €15 (package dependent)

Launched onto the Irish market in April 2017, NOW TV is an on-demand online entertainment and live streaming service from Sky.

Viewers can watch on their TV, phone or laptop. To view on a TV, you can purchase a portable NOW TV streaming stick. All you have to do is plug the small device into a compatible TV, connect to your WI-FI and away you go! Navigation with the remote that comes with the device is a breeze and all of the content is neatly organised into searchable categories.

If you want to watch on your phone just download the app and if you want to see on your laptop just head to the website and sign in.

Offering

Subscribers can choose from a range of niche 'passes'. Each pass comes at a different price for a varying time period, so it’s quite refined in this respect.

The passes available include, but are not limited to the Entertainment Pass and Sky Cinema Pass, which both come with a free trial for a fortnight and are then €15 per month unless cancelled. On the other hand, should you want access to Sky Sports for example, daily, weekly and monthly passes are also available at €10, €15 and €39 respectively. 

Uniquely NOW TV not only offers customers the ability to stream movies and box sets on demand, but live television too. If you purchase the Entertainment Pass you'll get access to over 10 live TV channels including the much-coveted Sky Atlantic, as well as Sky One, Fox, Gold, Sky Living, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Sky Arts, MTV, SYFY and Nat Geo Wild.

Check out our in-depth review of NOW TV right here to get the lowdown on exactly what the on-demand service’s capabilities are.

Streaming prices

4. Apple TV+

Price: €4.99 per month

Apple TV+ is the most recent streaming service in Ireland and the tech giant certainly didn't hold back when launching the service in September with a cornucopia of the world’s foremost actors and celebrities present.

The new on-demand streaming service from Apple will compete head-to-head with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and promises entertaining new content such as new series 'The Morning Show' starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon.

Offering

Apple is offering new sign-ups a seven-day free trial of the service, after which the price rises to €4.99 per month. However anyone who buys a new iPhone, Mac or iPad will get one year's access for free.

Each subscription will allow steaming on up to six devices simultaneously, which is pretty nice for only €4.99 a month. 

Apple TV+ subscribers can watch on their iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac through the Apple TV app. Apple TV+ is also available on the web at tv.apple.com.

Like Netflix, users can download content to watch offline. So whether you’re on your morning commute or sunning yourself in the garden, watching your favourite show is possible almost anywhere.

However, compared to Netflix and even Amazon Prime Video, the amount of content on offer is miniscule. This will no doubt improve as the service becomes more established but for now don't expect much choice. Also, if you're a fan of binge watching an entire series of your favourite show in one weekend as soon as it's released, you should know that Apple+ has decided to go against the grain of most streaming platforms nowadays by releasing most of its shows on a weekly basis. 

5. Hayu

Price: €5.99

Hayu is an on-demand video streaming service that specialises in providing the most in-vogue reality TV shows from the US to Irish viewers. 

Offering

Hayu offers subscribers access to the most popular reality TV shows such as KUWTK (over 350 episodes alone) and the The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and Melbourne, and Chesire, and Atlanta, and Sydney, and Vancouver, and Auckland and... you get the jist!

New subscribers get a one-month free trial and then it's €5.99 per month thereafter.

NOW TV is also offering customers access to Hayu for €6 per month with a 14-day free trial to begin with.

Hayu is available to stream online at hayu.com and on mobile via the iOS App or Android App.

Although not for everyone and distinctively niche, Hayu provides a substantial catalogue of prime reality TV shows and is literally calling out to all reality fans out there.

6. RTÉ Player

Price: Free

Although not yet a paid-for streaming service, our sixth and final available platform here in Ireland is of course RTÉ's very own RTÉ Player.

The much maligned player has come under considerable scrutiny since its launch, all because of its tendency to perfectly play advertising while crashing actual content. Go figure...

Offering

The player offers viewers the ability to watch RTÉ's television channels live from the platform, while also offering access to a wide range of television shows on demand, catch-up TV and access to RTÉ's substantial TV show archive.

While nothing on the likes of Netflix or Prime Video, what RTÉ Player does offer is an ability to watch great Irish content, be it 'The Young Offenders', or 'Dublin Murders', with a promising platform for new Irish comedy in its infancy in RTÉ Player Originals.

And with an inevitable revision of the licence fee and continual changes afoot within RTÉ itself, it's certainly worth keeping an eye on the development of the player and its offering.

Disney+

An honourable mention to the most recent entrant into the market, Disney+, which launched on November 12th in North America, reaching over 10 million new sign-ups on its first day.

With a planned target of 18 million global subscribers by the end of 2020 there’s no doubt the service will go from strength to strength.

Available only in North America, the Netherlands and a few other select countries for the time being, the streaming platform has a planned date for entry into the Irish market of March 2020. Currently available on the platform are Disney+ originals like 'The Mandalorian', a Star Wars spin-off story following a bounty hunter five years after the Return of the Jedi, plus Disney's entire back catalogue from 'Fantasia' to 'Freaky Friday'. There’s also every Star Wars film in 4K HDR, a vast majority of the Marvel movies and almost every Pixar film ever made. And did we mention there's every episode of The Simpsons too!?

We wait with bated breath for the release of Disney+ on this side of the Atlantic.

It will be interesting to see how Irish consumers value it in comparison to the other on-demand streaming services already available here, but if Baby Yoda is any metric to go buy, it's bound to go down a treat.

Platform

Price

Free trial period

Streaming quality

Downloadable content

Notable titles

Netflix

€7.99-€15.99

30 days

HD/UltraHD (package dependent)

          ✓

The Irishman, Black Mirror, Rick & Morty

Amazon Prime Video

€5.99

7 days

HD, 4K, 4K Ultra HD (select titles)

          ✓

The Grand Tour, Good Omens, Suspiria

NOW TV

€15 (package dependent)

14 days

HD

          ✓

Sky Atlantic, Sky Cinema +more

Apple TV+

€4.99

7 days

HD, 4K

          ✓

The Morning Show, See, For All Mankind

hayu

€5.99

30 days

HD

          ✓

Kardashian Kontent, Project Runway

Disney+

$7 (Irish launch, 2020)

7 days

HD, 4K HDR

          ✓

Entire Star Wars franchise, The Simpsons

RTÉ Player

Free

Free

HD

          x

The Young Offenders, Dublin Murders

Let's hear from you

So there you have it, the definitive list of the most in-demand on-demand services currently available on the Irish market.

Are you a subscriber to any of these? What do you think is the best value for money? We’d love to know what you think. Let us know in the comments below or drop us a message over on Facebook or Twitter.

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