The Average Gamer

Netflix in the UK and Ireland – Everything You Need To Know

TV and film-streaming service Netflix launched in the UK and Ireland today. You can now stream programs on demand through your Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii as well as on other machines.

I had a chat with the team from Netflix this afternoon to find out everything you need to know about the service – price, bandwidth requirements and more.

What is Netflix?

It’s an online service that streams as many film and TV programs as you can watch for a flat monthly subscription. Depending on your internet connection speed, you get up to full HD 1080p 5.1 surround sound streams on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Obviously people on the Wii will be limited to standard definition pictures.

Based on the excitement levels of my Twitter feed this morning, key selling points are the first 3 seasons of Arrested Development and 14 years worth of Top Gear. Me, I’m more excited about watching Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse again.

How much does it cost?

£5.99 per month in the UK and €6.99 per month in Ireland. Sign up online here and get a free month’s trial.

Do I have to use Facebook?

Nope. Those of you who don’t like sharing Facebook details will have to log out of Facebook first, then go to the Netflix page and look for the tiny print below the Facebook button that says “or sign up using email address”. Here’s a picture to help you find it. Netflix sign-up without Facebook

Will it run on my machine(s)?

Netflix is available on pretty much any internet-connected device you can think of:

  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • Wii
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Android
  • iPad
  • Other tablet PCs
  • Apple TV
  • Smart TVs

When it comes to picture quality, Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt recommended a 4Mbps to 6Mbps line to get full 1080p and 5.1 surround sound quality. A key point of the service is that it will dynamically scale the quality of your show up or down based on the available download bandwidth, rather than stuttering like many streaming systems do. I’ve been using it on my 3.6Mb connection and get very good quality.

Watching shows across different machines is easy. Let’s you watched part of a show on your iPad while sitting on the train. Once you get home, fire up the Xbox and Netflix can resume the show from where you left off. As you would expect these days, you can also scan forwards and backwards through shows.

Why is everything really old?

They do update the content on a daily basis, as and when new distribution agreements go live. “In a typical week we’ll go through several hundred new pieces of content, adding them to the catalogue” said Hunt.

The idea is that Netflix complements rather than tries to compete with iTunes or 4OD to get the latest films and TV. Instead, they’ve focused on a very diverse back catalogue, covering odd shows like Grosse Point Blank or Breaking Bad that you may have heard about but don’t want them enough to buy a box set. The service is very popular with people who like to binge on shows, watching 2 or 3 episodes at a time.

Can I use it overseas?

Your subscription is a global one – sign up in the UK and you’ll be able to use Netflix around the world. If you’re in the US, you’ll have access to the US catalogue. On a Latin American connection, you’ll have their catalogue. In the UK we get all sorts of custom content, with British shows like Fawlty Towers and Inbetweeners. Those of you who are technically-minded can always use a VPN to connect to the overseas libraries.

How do I find the good stuff?

Shows on Netflix have an obscene number of tags to ensure you can find whatever type of programme you’re looking for, with strangely specific groupings like “Dark films featuring a Strong Female Lead” You can also search for specific films and actor names, or leave it up to the software to make recommendations based on your ratings.

Rather annoyingly, the ratings are per show so for long running programmes like Dexter where the first year was the finest, most tightly-scripted season I’ve ever seen and the last season was a big pile of wibbly poo, I can’t make that distinction in my rating.

Is it safe for my kids?

Yes. Netflix carries no “adult” content and there’s a parental locking system you can use to prevent teens from watching BBFC 18-rated shows. Because Netflix allows you to stream across different machines, this is entirely separate from the Xbox, PS3 and Wii parental controls. They’ve also created an area called “Just for Kids” which is specially designed for children to view and navigate – even the developers wanted something that they can confidently leave their kids watching.

How do I stop Netflix publishing my activity to Facebook?

On individual viewings
When you start each session look for the Facebook logo with “Don’t share this” in the top right corner. Hit that.

On an ongoing basis:

  1. Click the drop-down next to your name in the top-right corner of Facebook
  2. Click Account Settings
  3. Click Apps
  4. Click Netflix
  5. Click the X next to “Add app activity to your timeline”

Do they have plans to offer video game rentals?


Still interested? Here’s that sign-up link again.