- Streaming in 4K
- Blu-ray or streaming
- Overview of streaming providers
- Streaming devices
The ability to watch movies and series anytime, anywhere has truly revolutionized the way we watch. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Sky make it possible to watch a wide range of movies, series, documentaries, and other content at any hour, and at a pretty good price-performance ratio. However, it is now not so easy to keep track of the range of services, as there are always new ones and prices change more often than users would like. Therefore, we have summarized the best-known and most popular streaming services for you here and also recommend some rather unknown treasures.
Providers like Netflix or maxdome introduced streaming of series and movies in Germany, which has become more and more established over the years and has now even spawned new words like “binge-watching“. This simply mean to watch episode by episode of a series till the end.
Such providers buy the rights to series and films and are allowed to broadcast them via their service. Since the whole thing doesn’t work for free, of course, users have to create an account and pay monthly for the service. In return, you can access the service from anywhere, whether from your cell phone, tablet, PC or TVs. The exact details differ, however, just like the pricing models, which are not the same for every service.
The big advantage of streaming is that you have a huge digital media library at your disposal, which you can watch according to your own schedule without having to fill your living room shelf with DVDs or Blu-rays. The media libraries are also regularly expanded, even if this means that titles that have been available for a while are also sorted out again. In addition, you can watch all content in different languages and with subtitles, so you can even improve your language skills.
In addition, the streaming services deliver excellent quality depending on the movie or series, so that many titles from the media library are available in a 4K resolution, also called UHD. Of course, these require a 4K-capable TV or PC monitor, otherwise the 4 times higher resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels cannot be displayed compared to Full HD. It also requires a stable Internet line and the corresponding app.
Streaming in 4K
A TV experience that seems very close to reality. That’s exactly the feeling 4K resolution delivers. UHD TV shows precise colors through more accurate color depths and contrast ranges, incredible sharpness and brilliance, and an optimized refresh rate.
Worth knowing: Due to disagreements in the development – since there were no uniform UHD standards for a long time – different development stages crystallized, which means that there were improvements in resolution and color depth of the Ultra HD TVs over time, for example. The first stage came onto the market in 2014, followed by stage two in 2017, which finally went into the third stage in 2020
High-definition television, or HD for short, has been established on the German market for several years now. From HD to Full-HD, there is now already 4K, generally also called Ultra-HD, which results in the abbreviation UHD TV. In this case, the resolution is four times as high as that of HD TVs. Instead of 2 million pixels, 4K TVs display up to 8 million pixels. In the first phase of UHD TVs, 3840 x 2160 pixels are provided, which results in 8.3 million pixels of this UHD format. For additional useful information, check out our 4K resolution knowledge section.
Blu-ray or streaming
With so many different streaming services, it’s easy to forget that there’s also Blu-ray to enjoy 4K content. But why should you still have a Blu-ray collection when you can have a wide range of movies, series and documentaries at the click of a button and everywhere?
DVD vs. Blu-ray
The DVD was a revolution in its time and for a long time the most played medium when it came to consuming movies and series. In 2007, the Blu-ray Disc appeared and brought high-definition picture quality to your home TV. This sounded quite wonderful at the time, but when it was launched, no one had thought about the fact that in order to really enjoy the high quality of a Blu-ray, you would need appropriate terminal devices. Therefore, you had to have an HD TV and a Blu-ray player, which is why the start of the Blu-ray era was rather slow.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray
More than a decade later, Ultra HD Blu-ray followed in order to enjoy movies and series in Ultra HD at home. Instead of the aging Full HD resolution, content can be shown here in Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Not “real” 4K, but still. You can also enjoy Dolby Vision and HDR10, but you need a TV with at least one HDMI 2.0 port, since the large amount of data has to be transported.
However, the previously purchased Blu-ray player did not need to be replaced. However, various manufacturers announced over the last few years that the production of Blu-ray players would be discontinued, which seemed to make the disc in the blue packaging obsolete. Because without proper players, the production of Blu-rays would also be discontinued sooner or later.
However, the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles once again come with an optical drive and are thus quite capable of still playing Blu-ray discs. But the question still remains: Is it still worth buying Blu-rays? At first it seems that the time of Blu-ray is completely over. However, there are advantages compared to streaming services, especially in terms of picture quality.
Blu-ray vs. Streaming
Streaming makes watching movies and series easy. Install the app or open the browser, select the appropriate title and sit back. But many of us will know that it can happen, especially in the evening hours, that the resolution is throttled because the Internet is overloaded. Streaming still depends mostly on the broadband connection, and if it’s overloaded, the latest blockbuster is no fun.
Although slow Internet could soon be a thing of the past thanks to fiber optic cables and the 5G mobile network, it could still be several years before fast Internet with transmission rates of up to 10Gbit/s reaches Germany nationwide.
Broadband Internet for streaming
For smooth streaming, different internet speeds are required for different resolutions.
SD: (480p-576p) at least 3 mbit/s
HD: (720p-1080p) at least 5 mbit/s
4K / Ultra HD: (2160p) at least 25 mbit/s
The problem does not occur when watching a Blu-ray. Although the overall costs are significantly higher, since a Blu-ray player and the Blu-ray itself have to be purchased in addition to a TV that is 4K capable, the picture quality is permanently excellent afterwards – no matter what time of day it is. If you then want to expand the sound and maybe even buy a surround system or a soundbar, the whole thing still becomes quite expensive. However, this is also the only way to experience real cinema at home, which cannot be achieved with streaming services in terms of quality.
A direct comparison
- Best quality available
- No loading times while watching
- Extensive movie catalog
- Compatibility with Dolby Vision and HDR10
- Content for children
- Technical peripherals required
- Blu-ray players are no longer produced
- May break
- Simple user interfaces
- Multiple device operation
- Not limited to TV, also includes smartphone and laptop
- Large collection of movies and series
- Content for children
- Depends on internet speed and hosting servers
- Constant subscription required for consumption
Overview of streaming providers
In order to shed some light on the variety of different streaming services, we have put together a list of the best-known and biggest ones.
|Streaming provider||Basic subscription||Full-HD||UHD quality||Annual subscription||Advantages|
|Netflix||7,99 €||12,99 €||17,99 €||Go to offer|
|Prime Video||7,99 €||69,00 €||Student offers||Go to offer|
|Disney+||8,99 €||89,99 €||Go to offer|
|Joyn||free||6,99 €||Go to offer|
|Sky Germany||14,50 €||40,00 €||+ 5,00 €||Go to offer|
|Wakanim||free||5,00 €||60,00 €||Go to offer|
|YouTube||free||11,99 €||Go to offer|
|Media libraries||free||Go to offer|
Netflix – The number one place to go
Probably the best-known streaming service is the American provider Netflix, which is available in Germany since 2014. The video-on-demand service was one of the first to offer the option of enjoying 4K content from the comfort of your home at the push of a button. Since the Netflix own format House of Cards at the latest, almost all new productions are now shot in 4K right away.
In order to enjoy Netflix in a relaxed way, some things should be taken into account so that the viewing experience can be optimized to the maximum. If Netflix is used through a source external to the TV, such as the Apple TV 4K or a game console, you should make sure that your TV has an HDMI 2.0 connection or higher and that it is compatible with HDCP 2.2.
- A stable Internet connection with a data rate of 25 megabits per second or higher is recommended to experience UHD content. However, this should hardly be a problem since most of the major network providers have this anyway.
- Numerous series and movies can be watched in UHD format.
- Netflix originals like Stranger Things, House of Cards, The Crown and many more.
- Probably the highest number of 4K contents can be accessed.
Netflix current prices
- The basic Netflix subscription costs 7.99 euros per month and lets you watch content in SD quality on just one device.
- The standard subscription costs 12.99 euros and already offers HD quality on two devices at the same time.
- If you want to enjoy your movies and series in UHD quality, you have to book the Premium subscription for 17.99 euros a month. This also allows you to use the service on four different devices at the same time.
- The trial month, which allows you to see if you like Netflix’s media library, was unfortunately abolished in August 2020. However, Netflix remains a streaming service without additional costs for special content.
Prime Video – The Media Library from Amazon
Prime Video from Amazon is also one of the best-known streaming services, which provides a huge media library. While a subscription still cost 29.00 euro a year when Amazon Prime was introduced in 2007 and promised fast free shipping, a subscription today offers many other advantages. However, the price has also skyrocketed as a result.
- Here, too, a constant Internet connection with a data rate of at least 25 Mbit/s is recommended in order to be able to access the UHD content in full format
- A large number of blockbusters and many in-house productions
- Those who do not want to commit to Amazon permanently can simply rent or buy movies
- Award-winning series like The Man in the High Castle, Jack Ryan, The Boys, Good Omens and many more.
Prime Video current prices
- An annual subscription to the Amazon Prime membership currently costs 69.00 euros, which corresponds to a monthly fee of 5.75 euros. This results in a contract with a term of 12 months.
- However, you can also book Prime Video individually. It then costs 7.99 euros per month, but the subscription can be canceled monthly.
- In addition, you can also buy or rent individual movies, series, and even individual episodes of a series. You can also add additional channels that offer a very special selection of exclusive series, movies, documentaries, and sports events. Channels such as Starz Play or BBC Player can be added for an additional cost of 1.99 – 5.99 euros.
Advantages for students and trainees with Amazon
- Students benefit especially from their academic status at Amazon. They can test Prime Video, the eBook service Prime Reading, as well as the premium shipping free of charge for a whole of 12 months.
- After that, this free membership turns into a normal Prime membership, but at a price of only 34.00 Euro per year. You can use the full service for 4 years if you are a student during this time. After four years, students also have to pay the full price.
- In the meantime, the offer also applies to trainees at the same conditions, although the advantage expires after the end of the training at the latest.
- To confirm your status as a student or trainee, you need to upload various documents during verification, such as a current trainee contract.
Disney+ – Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar
Disney’s in-house streaming service Disney+ saw the light of day in 2019 and has gained an incredible number of users in a very short time. This is because Disney classics, as well as the Star Wars or Marvel franchises, are now exclusively available on Disney+ and have been removed from the other streaming services. The streaming service focuses largely on family-friendly content, although there are also documentaries from National Geographic and other series that are not just aimed at children.
- Family-friendly program with countless Disney and Pixar films, as well as all other licenses that Disney has bought up in recent years.
- These include Marvel movies and series, the Star Wars franchise, as well as The Simpsons, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Indiana Jones.
- Additionally, there are many exclusive titles produced specifically for Disney+: The Mandalorian, WandaVision, Loki, or Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
- Content will play in UHD and in the best audio quality your playback media supports. Some titles are also offered in Dolby Vision.
- The launch of Star will bring adult content to Disney+ that was previously on the streaming site Hulu. The streaming service from the U.S. is to be completely taken over by Disney+ by 2024.
- Star will also be available in Germany via Disney+ from February 2021 and will include numerous older series such as Desperate Housewives or The X-Files. Users will also find classic films such as Enemy of the State, The Scarlet Letter and more in the new Star media library.
Disney+ current prices
- An annual subscription to Disney+ costs 89.99 euros, but through a cooperation with Telekom, existing customers can get a preferential price.
- A monthly subscription costs 8.99 euros per month.
- Unfortunately, Disney+ no longer offers a trial month either, and students don’t get any discounts either.
Joyn – Live TV and entertainment
The streaming service Joyn originates from a German company and is also becoming increasingly popular. In 2020, Joyn also took over the long-standing platform maxdome, which was also one of the first streaming services in this country. Compared to Netflix or Prime Video, you can also enjoy normal live TV via Joyn, even for free.
- A normal membership is free and offers more than 50 TV channels in the live stream, as well as own media libraries of the supported channels. You can watch missed shows from ProSieben, Sat.1 or Sixx for 30 days after broadcast.
- In addition, there are self-produced series, shows, and local content that is continuously expanding.
Joyn PLUS+ current prices
- Joyn PLUS+ is the premium subscription of the streaming service and costs 6.99 euros per month.
- This gives you exclusive access to all maxdome content, as well as additional originals and other exclusive titles.
- More live TV channels and pay TV channels in HD quality
- In addition, the premium membership offers significantly less advertising than the normal subscription.
Sky – Football and Blockbusters
Sky Germany has been around since 2015 and is another streaming service that relies on a subscription system. The channel is best known for being the largest live sports broadcaster, as it not only broadcasts the Bundesliga, but also shows other sporting events such as tennis, handball or golf. But Sky also delivers exclusive series and movies, and the channel still owns exclusive rights to HBO series like Game of Thrones or Westworld. There are also numerous exclusive series from the American streaming site Peacock, such as Rutherford Falls.
- Different subscription packages that are geared to the customer’s wishes and can be combined as desired.
- There is even a package that offers Sky and Netflix in one and is even cheaper than subscribing to the services individually.
- With the introduction of Sky Q, the app combines all streaming services in one window, so you don’t have to switch back and forth between the apps in the TV menu.
Sky current prices
- The Sky Entertainment Basic subscription costs 14.50 euros per month and can be extended with various packages. This model is currently the cheapest and is sufficient to watch series and movies.
- Additions such as Sky Kids or Sky Go Plus cost 5.00 euros each, while other services such as Netflix or a multiscreen option cost more. These options always have to be booked separately, resulting in continuous additional costs.
- The full Sky package, including entertainment, cinema, sports and Bundesliga soccer, costs 40.00 euros.
- If you want to watch the media library in 4K resolution, that also costs an extra 5.00 euros.
- Sky Ticket is a less expensive option, as it is not tied to a long-term subscription and can be canceled on a monthly basis. Here, too, there are various packages, but often only a slimmed-down media library. Here, you only pay 9.99 euros per month.
Wakanim – A dream for otakus
For all anime fans, there is the streaming service Wakanim, founded in France, which also broadcasts classic and brand-new anime in Germany. The special thing: New episodes are made available on Wakanim only one hour after the Japanese broadcast, so there are no long waiting times.
- Wakanim offers both classics and brand new anime straight from Japan.
- Popular series like Attack on Titan, Free!, Fruits Basket and many more.
- Latest episodes available one hour after first broadcast.
Wakanim current prices
- Wakanim offers two different models, one of which is even free.
- With the free subscription, you can watch thousands of episodes of different anime at no extra charge, but you have to live with a medium quality of 480p and accept commercials. However, new episodes are released just one week after the first broadcast.
- Wakanim’s VIP service offers videos in Full HD, commercial-free watching, and exclusive anime not available in the free subscription. Also, you can watch offline after downloading the episodes or movies.
- A monthly subscription costs only 5,00 euros, a yearly subscription can be purchased for 60,00 Euros.
- In addition, individual episodes can be purchased separately, allowing you to compile your own collection. One episode costs 1.00 Euro, a whole season 10.00 Euros.
YouTube – More than just cat videos
Even YouTube has jumped on the streaming service bandwagon and has over 13,000 movies and around 2,000 series in its portfolio. However, many people who use the online platform, where every user can upload their own videos, are unaware of this since the option is well hidden. It can only be found further down in the side menu under Movies & Series.
However, YouTube does not offer a subscription system, but you have to pay for each movie and series individually. Also, a lot of content is only available in original audio so far, although the quality of the titles is definitely worth watching, since a lot of content is available in UHD and 5.1 surround sound.
YouTube also offers a premium service for 11.99 euros per month that lets you watch videos ad-free. You can also download videos to watch them on the plane or subway, for example. In addition, you can use the YouTube Music Premium service to listen to music anywhere. The first month is free of charge as well.
Media libraries – Free movies and series
Another streaming platform that can be accessed from anywhere is the special media libraries of the respective TV stations. Not only past programs are shown here, but also exclusive content such as documentaries, reports or articles on current topics. Public broadcasters such as ZDF and ARTE have their own media libraries with content worth watching, as do private broadcasters such as ProSieben, Sixx and DMAX. It should be noted, however, that the media libraries of the private broadcasters in particular are filled with a lot of advertising. The nice thing about media libraries, however, is that they are completely free.
Every streaming provider has its own app and these can now be used on most devices. The majority of apps are pre-installed on current TVs, and on other devices, such as game consoles, most apps can be downloaded from the respective store. On smartphones and tablets, you can easily find the apps in the Appstore or Google Play.
Fire TV Stick
An alternative solution for your home theater is the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which you can easily connect to your TV and enjoy many streaming services directly. The streaming stick is also available in two variants, because the normal stick only delivers a Full HD picture, which is sufficient in many situations, especially when you watch on small screens. For streaming in 4K, the respective Fire TV Stick 4K Ultra HD has to be purchased. However, there is also the Fire TV Stick Lite, which brings Full HD content into your living room at a reasonable price.
Xbox Series X|S
Especially with slightly older TVs, it makes sense to stream via an external device. Game consoles, such as the new Xbox Series X|S, are a good choice, since they can be used to watch Netflix, Prime Video or Disney+ without any problems. It is often easier to control the device with a controller than with a normal remote control, and you also have an enormous game library at the push of a button.
The prices of the streaming services are non-binding, without guarantee and can change at short notice. However, we always try to keep you up to date.
This post is also available in: Deutsch