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Coronavirus Kent: Netflix, BritBox, Disney+, Prime Video - how much are they and what do they offer during the lockdown?

So we're all facing extended periods confined to our homes - and there's only so much of the rolling news channels we can probably all stomach right now.

Fortunately, we now live in a world where there is a remarkable amount of entertainment at our fingertips.

Streaming TV services offer a good way to relieve the boredom of the lockdown
Streaming TV services offer a good way to relieve the boredom of the lockdown

Millions already subscribe to the likes of Netflix, but there's plenty more out there to spoon-feed you quality TV and films.

If you're new to it all, it can be rather confusing. But whether you're watching on your PC, phone, tablet, smart TV or via a video games console, now seems likely to be as good a time as you're likely to get to subscribe to a service which will put plenty of content at your fingertips. Plus you can cancel at any time on all these services so you're not tied in for months.

We take a look at some of the biggest providers, how much they cost, and the offers which means you can access their services for free.

Disney+

There must be some executives sat in Disney's Cinderella Palace who, perhaps rather guiltily, cannot quite believe their luck when it comes to launch dates.

Disney+ has launched in the UK
Disney+ has launched in the UK

Because on the day everyone was ordered by the government to stay in their homes they launched their long-trumpeted on-demand streaming service Disney+. And if there is one thing we are all in desperate need of right now it is some escapism.

Once upon a time, Disney was best known for its somewhat treacle-heavy cartoons and goofy movies. Today it is an entertainment behemoth which has, over the years, gobbled up the most successful studios and franchises.

So Disney+ has some serious clout behind it. From the endless stream of Marvel movies, to Star Wars to Pixar it is dripping in big box office hits. And they are all present and correct here. All the Star Wars movies - with the exception of the most recent chapter, the Rise of Skywalker - are here, along with the critically acclaimed TV series The Mandalorian (although just two episodes are available on launch day presumably to lure people in to take subscriptions rather than binge on the free trial), plus a host of spin-off series and cartoons.

Granted, if you have Sky Movies, the chances are you'll have access to a lot of the Marvel back catalogue - and Pixar movies for that matter - but, long-term, chances are you'll need to cough up for Disney+ to access them.

The Simpsons is on Disney+ and there's plenty of them
The Simpsons is on Disney+ and there's plenty of them

There's also a shed load of National Geographic shows so you can reflect on what the world before the crazy circumstances we find ourselves in now.

But, for many, perhaps the secret to its success could be the world's favourite dysfunctional family. The Simpsons, despite pre-launch concerns, are here and in numbers. There are 30 full seasons which amounts to literally hundreds of episodes. Which could take the edge of staying indoors for the foreseeable future.

Is it all worth it? Well, you're getting a lot of hits. And right now, it could be money well spent.

Cost: £5.99 a month of £59.99 annual subscription.

Offers: There's a free 7-day trial

Star Wars features heavily on Disney+
Star Wars features heavily on Disney+

Netflix

Unless you've been self-isolating for the last 18 months, you won't have been able to escape the relentless rise of Netflix and the power it wields in the entertainment industry.

It is now not only a showcase of hundreds of TV series and movies, but also a major production house which churns out an ever increasing number of visual treats. Perhaps most famously was the star-studded, Oscar nominated Martin Scorsese-directed mob movie The Irishman with a cast featuring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. At three-and-a-half hours long, it will consume a full morning or afternoon too which may be handy right now. It's other hits include the series Stranger Things and its recent addition - the UK production The Stranger.

From Lord of the Rings to Star Trek and The Crown to The Thick of It there's plenty to discover, as well as a stack of documentaries on everything from alien landings to the Second World War.

But, like The Simpsons for Disney, the perennial ever green it boasts is all ten series of the sit-com Friends. You remember - it was when social distancing was a phrase we'd never heard and coffee shops were open.

There is a lot of dross on Netflix, but that's comfortably outweighed by the gems and the sheer variety on offer which will appeal to all age groups.

Netflix remains king of the streaming services
Netflix remains king of the streaming services

Cost: There are a number of options. It costs £5.99 for one screen in standard definition, but the most popular is £8.99 which gives you HD and allows two people on your account to use it at the same time. Or, if you're feeling flush, and have a big household, then £11.99 gives you some 4K content and four users at any one time.

Offers: Nothing currently. It ditched its 30-day free trial at the end of last year.

Amazon Prime

For the next few months, we seem destined to become a society ever more reliant on home deliveries. So you can imagine Amazon is coining it in right now.

But if you subscribe to its Prime service for next-day deliveries, did you know you also get access to its Prime Video service? It's not quite as extensive as Netflix, and there is a slight tendency for it to showcase pay-per-view movies on its home page which can sometimes fool you into thinking it has some very fresh films available, but it's certainly a varied offering.

Amazon Prime gives you TV...plus next-day delivery (32297911)
Amazon Prime gives you TV...plus next-day delivery (32297911)

There is, of course, the chance to be reunited with Messrs Clarkson, Hammond and May, previously of Top Gear, in their Grand Tour shows, while if you like a sport documentary there are some glorious ones following the fortunes of everyone from Manchester City to the Australian cricket team. Captain Picard rides again as Patrick Stewart returns to the Star Trek universe and there's a diverse range of original and classic TV and movies too.

Plus, if you haven't seen it yet, you can watch Lost, in its entirety. All six glorious, loose-end heavy seasons of it. Not to mention Homeland.

It's not quite as polished a platform as Netflix, but it still brings plenty to the table - plus you can get a free trial which could help when home schooling the kids becomes less Mary Poppins and more 'stick them in front of a vaguely educational documentary'.

Cost: £7.99 a month as part of the Prime package

Offers: Free 30-day trial

Jeremy Clarkson is joined by Richard Hammond and James May on Amazon Prime's Grand Tour
Jeremy Clarkson is joined by Richard Hammond and James May on Amazon Prime's Grand Tour

Now TV

If now isn't the time for some serious box-set binge-watching then I'm not sure when would be. So given that Now TV's entertainment pass offers Sky's range of, predominantly US, drama, this could be the time to do some serious catching up.

From the complete Game of Thrones (although be quick as it's only on there until April 2), to the critically acclaimed Chernobyl, not to mention The Tunnel which allows you to play 'spot the location' as Kent heavily featured across the three series.

Now TV has various different strands depending on what you want to watch. So the entertainment pass is for box-sets, while its obvious what the movies pass offers you, ditto the kids one. There's a sport one too...but not sure there's going to be great demand for that for the time being.

If you subscribe to the full Sky offering, Now TV isn't going to be for you, but otherwise it offers some top quality content which can devour hours of your life; which could come in very handy right now.

Now TV has a variety of different 'passes'
Now TV has a variety of different 'passes'

Cost: Entertainment pass is £8.99; movies £11.99; kids £3.99

Offers: 7-day free trial on all passes plus some decent discounts for four/six month contracts.

BritBox

It's arguably the least sexy of the offerings but BritBox does contain plenty of classic shows from across the BBC and ITV - plus it offers you a nice free trial. So there may never have been a better time to settle down with a cup of tea (or six) and enjoy the murder mysteries of the likes of Vera (featuring Kent's very own Brenda Blethyn), Endeavour, Broadchurch, Shetland or escape with the still-funny-all-these-years-later delights of Fawlty Towers and Blackadder.

You can also watch Downton Abbey - and watch how a once mighty TV show lost the way as it approached its final series.

Britbox delivers the best of the BBC and ITV
Britbox delivers the best of the BBC and ITV

Obviously, everything here has been on terrestrial TV so there's not quite the sense of discovery as that offered by some of the other services, but when we all want to be entertained there's a lot to be said for investing our time in productions which were deemed good enough to fill prime time slots on the nation's two main channels.

Plus the introductory offers gives you a lot of TV to binge on to get you started.

Cost: £5.99 a month

Offers: One month free

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