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What is Netflix?

Lynn Wright / 22 March 2016 ( 22 May 2018 )

A new generation of on-demand TV services, such as Netflix, delivered over the internet means you can watch what you want, when you want.

Couple watching the TV and looking at a laptop
Over 125 million hours of TV is watched each day on Netflix

On-demand streaming TV and film services have gained in popularity over the past five years, with services such as Netflix offering an alternative to terrestrial TV services. 

Unlike traditional TV delivered over the air via your TV aerial or via cable services such as Virgin Media, streaming TV services use your home broadband to deliver shows and films.

Do I need a TV licence to stream TV?

What is streaming TV?

Streaming TV services, such as Netflix, are on-demand services. Choose the show or film you want to watch, and it is streamed instantly over the internet to your TV. This way you can start watching shows immediately, rather than having to wait for it to download first. 

Streaming TV services start from around £6 per month. You can access services such as Netflix from most modern smart TVs, or by connecting a device such as Apple TV, or via a games console, such as a PlayStation 4.

What is catch-up TV?

Watch out for fake Netflix emails

In September 2018, Action Fraud sent out the following alert:

We’ve seen an increase in reports about fake Netflix emails claiming that there’s an issue with your account, or that your account has been suspended. The email states that you need to “update” your account details in order to resolve the problem. The link in the emails leads to genuine-looking Netflix phishing websites designed to steal your username and password, as well as payment details. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.

What is Netflix?

Netflix began life as a DVD-by-post business in the US in 1997, and started to deliver movies streamed over the internet in 2007. It is available in 190 countries, and by 2017 it had over 104 million subscribers. 

It operates a subscription model – from £6 per month, you can watch as many TV programmes and films from its library as you want without any restrictions. 

Over 125 million hours of TV is watched each day on Netflix, and streamed shows can be paused and rewound, much like a DVD. 

You can search Netflix’s library to find a particular show, and Netflix analyses your viewing, suggesting other shows you might like.

What is on Netflix?

Netflix has a revolving mix of TV shows and films, from newish releases to classics.

Popular TV series are available and, unlike scheduled TV, you can watch back-to-back episodes of a TV series, like viewing a DVD boxset.

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Why should I get Netflix?

• Flexibility – you can watch Netflix on different devices, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, games consoles, set-top boxes, PCs and laptops.

• No ads – TV is ad-free on Netflix, meaning your viewing is not interrupted.

• Choice – Netflix has thousands of TV shows and films to choose from.

• Binge watching – Netflix streams a complete TV series, meaning you can watch several episodes back-to-back in a single viewing.

• Exclusive programming – Netflix produces its own critically acclaimed original TV shows, including Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards.

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What are the downsides of Netflix?

• Broadband – you’ll need decent broadband of 3Mbps or higher, and streaming TV uses any data allowance you may have on your broadband deal. As a guide, standard definition streamed TV uses 1GB of data, and high definition uses 3GB of data per hour.

• Latest releases – Netflix doesn’t carry many recent releases of shows that aren't Netflix originals, but there are lots of older, less-well-known movies and TV shows, rather than the latest blockbuster releases.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.