While many of us can still remember when there were only three channels to choose from, the options available now are staggering. Just as we’ve mastered pausing and rewinding live TV and navigating the on-demand Sky menu, we’re being introduced to Chromecasts and Fire Sticks – often by family members that can barely reach a light switch!
Streaming movies and TV shows over the internet can be very cost effective and can give you access to a host of great options to help you entertain your grandchildren on wet weekends. There are a range of services to suit different budgets and you can pick online streaming packages that complement or replace your current TV package.
First of all, it’s recommended that you have a broadband internet connection with speeds of 2 to 4 megabytes per second (Mb/s). You can check this with your provider. Once your speed is sorted, it’s important to check your allowance to make sure you have enough data to last the month. Standard definition videos use around 1GB per hour with HD (high definition) videos needing up to 4GB per hour. If you think you’ll be watching two films and six episodes of Fireman Sam each weekend, an allowance of 50GB per month will be sufficient. However, do discuss your requirements with your internet provider to make sure your package is tailored to your needs.
Here’s an overview of the current internet TV packages for kids.=
Netflix for Kids
Subscription costs: £7.99 per month
Package overview: Perhaps the biggest name in online movie streaming, a Netflix subscription gives users access to a wide range of films and TV box sets. Netflix can be installed as an app on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets along with being accessed via the website on a computer. It offers a great selection of kids and family films plus popular kids TV shows such as Peppa Pig, Angry Birds and Teletubbies. Some programmes can also be downloaded and watched offline – great for journeys in the car.
Pros: Netflix has a separate ‘kids’ account setting so it won’t show inappropriate content to younger watchers. It’s very user friendly so you can pretty much switch it on and leave the grandkids to it. The number and quality of Netflix’s own TV shows and movies is constantly improving.
Cons: The content is not as up to date as other providers such as Sky Movies and there is a limited selection of Disney films available.
Now TV Kids Pass
Subscription costs: £2.99 per month
Equipment needed: NOW TV box – cost: £14.99
Package overview: The Now TV Kids Pass is a subscription-free service and users access to six brilliant live kids channels: Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, Nicktoons, Boomerang, Cartoon Network and Cartoonito. Users also get thousands of episodes on-demand from those channels as well as CBeebies, Milkshake! and CBBC.
The pass provides access to a huge number of shows including ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’, ‘Paw Patrol’, ‘The Powerpuff Girls’, ‘Adventure Time’ and ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’.
Pros: The setup is very child-friendly and the channels included are good value for the money.
Cons: There aren’t many movies available and the package doesn’t include any Disney channels.
Subscription costs: £9.99 per month
Package overview: Disney offers its own subscription service offering online access to a large library of its TV show and movies and users can also enjoy age appropriate eBooks and music.
Full series of TV shows for kids are on offer and every programmes comes with character information and other fun information.
Pros: You can set up profiles for every user including children in the house.
Cons: Compared to other streaming services, Disney Life can be seen as quite expensive.
Amazon Instant Video
Price: £5.99 per month or included with Amazon Prime at £79.99.
Package overview: Amazon Instant Video offers a huge library of shows and movies and is easy to use. All of the movies and programmes are bundled into genres or you can type the name of your show into the search box to see if it available.
Pros: Amazon Instant Video tends to offer a better and more up-to-date selection of movies than other steaming services and offers a few unique TV shows.
Cons: Only Prime Video content with a ‘Prime’ banner can be watched with the subscription, other videos are available to watch but come at an additional cost and it can be confusing for younger users.
A Chromecast is a media streaming device made by Google that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV. It allows you to use your mobile phone or tablet as a remote control to stream programmes from certain apps and services that you already subscribe to and have downloaded on your mobile device.
Chromecast works with Apple, Android, Google and Windows devices.
Amazon TV Fire Stick
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick works in much the same way as a Chromecast, however the Alexa Voice Remote allows you to search all your apps and find the shows you want to watch directly without using a mobile phone or tablet.
You can access popular streaming services including Amazon Video and Netflix.
Please note that all prices are correct as of April 2017 and are listed in GBP Pound Sterling.