Lovefilm vs. Netflix vs. Sky Movies vs. Blinkbox

I love watching movies. I could quite happily sit and watch 2 or 3 back to back on a Sunday as long as the F1 isn’t on. I’ve been a Sky Movies subscriber since getting Sky about 5 years ago and was always pretty satisfied with the service. In late 2010 Sky launched a partnership with Xbox which changed the game completely as it meant I now had access to 100’s of on demand movies at no extra cost.

The improvements to the Xbox dashboard released in December (2011) to include apps from third party movie streaming services such as Blinkbox, Lovefilm and as of today Netflix has drawn to my attention to the possibility that I could get rid of my £16 per month Sky Movies Subscription if it could replace the quality of service currently offered by Sky. Whilst the £4.99/£5.99 price point seems pretty convincing I was interested to see exactly what movies each of the services had available and which movies they were missing. In a recent article I read that Netflix had negotiated exclusivity deals on new movies with Lionsgate and MGM so it would be interesting to see how much the catalogues actually differed.

I don’t have time to do a full cross reference (although I was tempted to script something up to scrape them) so I’ve chosen a selection of more recent films that I know have been made available for online streaming and a selection of much older films. I have checked each film on Sky Go, Lovefilm and Netflx as well as on Blinkbox which is not a subscription service but I thought was a useful comparison for streaming library completeness. I have ignored Lovefilm offerings where they are available on DVD but not for instant streaming.

Lovefilm Netflix Sky Movies
Blinkbox (pay per view)
New/Recent Movies
Super 8 NO NO YES YES(£3.49)
Cowboys and Aliens NO NO NO * YES(£3.49)
Rise of Plant of the Apes NO NO NO * YES(£3.49)
Twliight NO NO YES YES (£1.99)
Harry Potter (8) YES(£3.49) NO NO * YES(£3.49)
The Hangover YES NO NO ** YES (£2.49)
The Hangover 2 YES(£3.49) NO NO ** YES(£3.49)
Four Lions YES NO NO** NO
Old Movies
Harry Potter (1) NO NO NO ** YES (£2.49)
Plant of the Apes (1968) YES NO NO NO
The Godfather NO NO YES YES(£1.99)
The 39 Steps NO YES NO YES (FREE)
Blair Witch Project NO YES NO NO
Home Alone NO NO YES NO
Being John Malkovich YES YES YES NO
An American Werewolf in London NO YES NO YES(FREE)
Unlimited Streaming Subscription Price per month £9.99 £5.99 £16.00
* available on demand. £3.99 each
** were previously available

As we can see Netflix has pretty poor coverage at the moment compared to Lovefilm in terms of newer releases while Netflix seems to be better in terms of back catalogue. Out of the three subscription services Sky has the best coverage across the board, one limitation of the Sky Go service is the total number of movies that they have available at any one time which does change regularly, I have marked those movies which I know that I have watched on Sky Go on my Xbox previously. The Blinkbox pay per view model would work out expensive to watch 10-15 movies a month although they do have a large selection of free movies available – the quality of which does vary. Blinkbox also announced today that they were making streaming available for free on some titles if you buy the DVD in Tesco stores and provide your clubcard details (Tesco own Blinkbox).

I’m not planning on moving away from Sky yet, but it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the next few months and whether Netflix start to strengthen their catalogue with more studio deals. Meanwhile Lovefilm’s new owner, Amazon, will be sure to strengthen their streaming business in light of the Kindle Fire potentially getting a UK release later this year.

UPDATE – Blinkbox have got in touch to say that some of the movies that were marked as unavailable are actually available. I’ve updated those that are available to stream (some are only available to purchase)

12 Comments on “Lovefilm vs. Netflix vs. Sky Movies vs. Blinkbox”

  1. Fresh Purple says:

    Thanks for a very useful comparison, just got a new Smart TV and was considering whether it was worth subscribing to any of these as yet. Looks like it might be better to wait a bit and see how it all shakes out….

  2. Paul Smith says:

    i do like the comparison and it does prove the most important point in that Netflix, and to a lesser extend lovefilm, have less options than SKY, however there are a couple of other points worth mentioning/emphasising

    SKY’s price for the movies is considerably more than the other options.

    It is my understanding that SKY Go is free only if you have multi room (feel free to correct me on that as i have not looked into SKY Go for a while because of my next point)

    I use an Android phone and tablet and at this time SKY Go is not available for my devices. Sky did promise that an app would be out in 2011, but that has since changed to ‘winter’ although I am currently hearing February.

    My operating system is Ubuntu so i have zero chance of watching SKY Go’s offerings any time soon. I do have the option to dual boot into Vista, but as i do it so rarely i would have to plan ahead so that it can download and install the updates that the o/s constantly needs.

    My original XBOX died a horrible death, but even if it had not, it is my understanding that SKY Go requires a gold subscription, so that is yet more cost.

    My far superior designed console, the PS3, is my current gaming option, and SKY Go is not available on that. I have also not heard any rumours about that changing any time soon.

    Personally, i am going to use the 1 months free trial of Netflix, then possibly a 3 month Lovefilm for the price of 1 month sub, and then see what’s available at that point on Netflix

  3. Paul Smith says:

    Just realised that Netflix is not going to work on linux either, so you can disregard the o/s part

    • JohnL says:

      What I like with Netflix is that when I move between the iPhone PC and Smart TV it picks up the movie where it left off and I can see all the movies that I have browsed. I am also considering dropping SKY Movies but you are right the selection at the moment is not fully compelling me but I will wait a couple of months to see if Netflix improves.

  4. anonymous says:

    The movies package is only £16 when you dont subscribe to sports. If you have full pack it is cheaper (works out as £8.00p/m with sports)

  5. Hi Mark,

    Thoughtful, intelligent and inspiring…now to you. You can’t do this type of analysis without including the white elephant in the room – itunes. They are the largest in terms of content, available on the most platforms and are the cheapest.

    • munsworth says:

      There certainly are other options out there including iTunes and the Ultraviolet system, the reason I compared these 4 in particular was that they are all currently available on XBox Live. I’ve actually got a couple of follow up posts in draft format and will include something on iTunes just for you but Oli and Matt are cracking those Knowsis whips right now 🙂

  6. Mark says:

    Usual nonsense that ignores the fact the Xbox needs another £40 a year ontop just to get access to the double-dip subscripion.

    • munsworth says:

      You’re right I did overlook the fact you are paying for a Gold subscription in order to use these services. But that’s the cost of having an XBox and wanting to get online. The cost of these services is the same no matter how you choose to use to stream them.

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