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Best New Zealand streaming services 2021: Netflix, Disney, Neon and more compared

best streaming services

Now that streaming media has become a mainstay in New Zealander homes, Kiwis have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to getting their home entertainment fix. 

When combined, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and Neon offer an enormous range of content that can be instantly streamed into your home. However, if you can only afford one subscription service, narrowing down a definitive choice can be harder than it seems.

As each service brings with it a unique range of television shows and movies aimed at different segments of the streaming audience, not to mention differing price points, device compatibility and streaming qualities, we've taken it upon ourselves to bring you an in-depth guide to what you can expect from New Zealand's major SVOD platforms.

With the constantly evolving nature of each service discussed in this guide, we will endeavour to keep you updated on any significant changes and updates that may occur to these streaming giants in the future.

To help you choose from the best TV streaming services out there, we've put together this guide to the essentials. Here's how the streaming situation stacks up in New Zealand for 2021.


Best TV streaming service 2021 overview:

  1. Netflix
  2. Disney Plus
  3. Neon
  4. Amazon Prime Video
  5. Apple TV Plus

Best specialty streaming services overview:

  1. Spark Sport
  2. Shudder
  3. Sky Sport Now

Best TV streaming service 2021:

What is the best TV streaming service you can get right now?

netflix

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

1. Netflix

The king of online streaming

Specifications
Compatible devices: Android, Apple, Windows, Roku, Telstra TV, PlayStation, Xbox, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, smart TVs
Free trial: None
Simultaneous streams: 1-4
Reasons to buy
+Netflix Original TV and movies +Multi-device support+4K HDR streaming
Reasons to avoid
-Can require faster internet speeds -Additional cost for 4K content

Featuring flawless, fast streams in high quality and without any buffering problems or errors to speak of, Netflix delivers the gold standard when it comes to its streaming experience in New Zealand. 

While its library was slightly lacking at launch compared to its US counterpart, the sheer number of excellent original TV shows and movies that have been added in the years since have made Netflix the undisputed leader when it comes to content.

Boasting top-notch scripted programming alongside binge-worthy documentary and reality content, Netflix truly offers something for everyone. 

If you're a movie buff or TV fanatic there's only one must-have player in town and that's Netflix. It is, unequivocally, the biggest and best streaming service. That said, non-Netflix Original films and shows tend to cycle off the service with alarming regularity, so if you do opt to subscribe, make sure it's for the exclusives.

If there's one area the service floors the competition, its in device compatibility. Netflix has the biggest global reach and has been around the longest, which is why it can be streamed on the largest number of devices. The Netflix app is available on pretty much every smart TV manufactured in the last few years, and can be streamed from Xbox One and PS4 consoles, along with a wide number of streaming boxes.

While Netflix is a little pricey compared to some of its competitors (prices start at NZ$11.99 for one standard definition stream, all the way to NZ$21.99 for four 4K streams), it's worth it for its enormous number of exclusives and for the overall quality of its service, which is unmatched.

Verdict: 5/5

Image credit: Disney Plus

Image credit: Disney Plus (Image credit: Disney)

2. Disney Plus

The new home of Disney shows and movies

Specifications
Compatible devices: PS4, Xbox One, Samsung and LG devices, Roku players, Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, Apple TV, Android TV, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Google Chromecast
Free trials: None
Simultaneous streams: 4
Reasons to buy
+Great content base+4K included as standard+Price is competitive
Reasons to avoid
-Best originals are still to come-Star brings more grown-up content

Disney Plus doesn't feel like it's trying to be the main TV streaming offering in your life. Instead, it's a family-friendly option that feels like it lives alongside a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video subscription. At launch, it had a very specific selection of content: Disney animated movies, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, and National Geographic. Essentially, if Disney owns it and kids can watch it, it's on here.

That said, while the streaming service was aimed squarely at families at launch, that all changed with the arrival of Star, a new content channel that offers more grown-up fare from a number of Disney-owned brands, including ABC, Disney Television Studios, FX, Touchstone, Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Studios and 20th Television. Essentially, the amount of content on Disney Plus has effectively been doubled – with a small price increase being the only downside.

The app is easy to use, with useful genre listings, and 4K streaming is included as part of the flat NZ$12.99 per month (or NZ$129.99 pear year) subscription fee. It's pretty well-priced, then, and as far as classics go, Disney Plus has launched with a whole bunch of fantastic movies. If you can't stream a particular movie on the service, too, a listing page will tell you when you can. 

Oh, and did we mention that Disney Plus offers you the ability to watch the phenomenal Broadway musical Hamilton as many times as you like from the comfort of your own home? If you haven't seen it yet, just know that it more than lives up to the hype.

In terms of television shows, Disney Plus does boast a handful of shows that would be worth the price of admission on their own – not only is Disney Plus the only place to stream almost every episode of The Simpsons, it's live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian is one of the best new shows in years. On the horizon, too, it has a few impressive exclusive shows in the works from Marvel Studios.

It's also worth noting that Disney Plus will occasionally bring big new releases to Premier Access, which allows subscribers to pay an additional fee (NZ$39.99) to watch certain cinematic releases early.

Verdict: 4/5

Neon

(Image credit: Neon / TechRadar)

3. Neon

The streaming home of HBO in New Zealand

Specifications
Compatible devices: iOS, Android, desktop browser, Samsung smart TVs, LG smart TVs, Sony smart TVs, TCL smart TVs, Android TV, PS4, Chromecast, Vodafone TV, Apple TV
Free trials: 14 days
Simultaneous streams: 2
Reasons to buy
+Chromecast compatibility+Decent device selection+Large library
Reasons to avoid
-Still no 4K content-Expensive

In New Zealand, the streaming service Neon's biggest selling point is undoubtedly its access to HBO content, allowing Kiwi subscribers to stream the latest big-name Home Box Office shows without the need for a cable TV subscription. 

That means users can stream the likes of Mare of Easttown, Euphoria, I May Destroy You, The White Lotus, Lovecraft Country and, of course, Game of Thrones. It's also the streaming home of Zack Snyder's Justice League, and offers a huge range of movies as part of its subscription price, along with a large number of newer releases available for rental.

Of course, Neon isn't the cheapest streaming service around – a subscription will cost you NZ$15.99 per month or NZ$159.99 per year, and that only includes two simultaneous HD streams with no 4K content on the horizon. Luckily, Neon allows you to try before you buy, with a free 14-day trial available to all new sign-ups. 

It's also hard to argue with Neon's impressive content library, which includes shows as varied as Love Island UK and Yellowstone, and Neon also deserves much praise for its large number of compatible streaming devices.

Additionally, Neon allows for offline viewing on selected shows and movies, meaning users can download content to their smart devices in order to watch away from home, which is a good way to avoid hefty mobile data charges.

Amazon Prime Video on various devices

4. Amazon Prime Video

A strong selection of both popular films and TV

Specifications
Compatible devices: Android, Apple, Windows, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Smart TVs
Free trials: 30 days
Simultaneous streams: 3
Reasons to buy
+Amazon originals +Brilliant selection of movies+Good for kids+Big collection of films  
Reasons to avoid
-Interface not as intuitive as Netflix 

Amazon and Netflix are two sides of the same coin. That's not to say they're identical – they're not – but the differences are few and far between, and Prime may be one of the best streaming options in New Zealand in terms of value.

Like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video has its own set of original series – Upload, Hunters, The Expanse and The Boys among others – but, generally speaking, they don't receive the same fanfare as their Netflix-bred brethren. The same can be said about Amazon's original movies, which often arrive on the service months after their theatrical debut. 

That said, Amazon can boast an absolutely huge library of films and older television shows. While it's true that many of its movie offerings are low budget and trashy (not that there's anything wrong with that), there's seemingly an endless number to choose from, which is pretty impressive. 

Amazon Prime Video's library of successful theatrical releases has been getting better of late, too, and you also have the option of renting premium film releases – many of which are still showing in cinemas.

While Prime Video is part of the Amazon Prime subscription in some countries, it's available as an independent service in New Zealand, setting you back NZ$8 a month, with a 7-day free trial.

Verdict: 4/5

Apple TV Plus

(Image credit: TechRadar / Apple)

5. Apple TV Plus

Apple's service has taken the phrase 'quality over quantity' to heart

Specifications
Compatible devices: Apple, Samsung Smart TVs, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, PS5
Free trials: 7 days
Simultaneous streams: 6
Reasons to buy
+Expensive-looking shows+Promising upcoming projects+Free year's sub with Apple devices
Reasons to avoid
-Limited library-Not on Android devices

Apple's newest streaming service has money bags and talent on its side. Launching with The Morning Show, an expensive drama starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carrell, as well as the darkly comedic series Physical with Rose Byrne, Apple is flexing its muscles to get the best talent. 

Film content is a little less prevalent, however Apple TV Plus added the Tom Hanks war film Greyhound to its lineup not too long ago, along with Cherry starring Tom Holland, and Palmer that stars Justin Timberlake. It also has the Apple Original series Ted Lasso, which is an absolute delight.

Ultimately though, it doesn't have a deep content library, which is what the platform would need to be the best streaming service in 2021, even at the very lean price point of just NZ$8.99 per month. 

The app itself was initially hard to navigate, with Apple Original shows and movies mixed in alongside content for rent and purchase. However, that has now been simplified somewhat with a menu bar that offers clearer sections, letting you go straight to your desired content.

Most of the original programming here is well worth checking out, though – particularly the sci-fi series For All Mankind, along with Mythic Quest, a new sitcom from the creators of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the violent and ambitious dystopian drama See, starring Jason Momoa. Over time, that library could develop into something great, especially with the likes of the epic sci-fi series Foundation on the horizon.

Of course, Apple needs to work a little harder to get its app onto other devices – especially Android phones and tablets. Thankfully, Apple TV Plus has recently arrived on PlayStation and Xbox consoles – and PS5 owners can even claim six months of the service after downloading the app to the new console, which is an extremely attractive incentive to try the service out.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Divider

Specialty streaming services

Spark Sport

(Image credit: Spark Sport / TechRadar)

Spark Sport

The streaming service for sports maniacs

Specifications
Compatible devices: iOS, Android, desktop browser, Samsung smart TVs, LG smart TVs, Sony smart TVs, Android TV, Panasonic smart TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Freeview SmartVU
Free trials: 7 days
Simultaneous streams: 1
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sports selection+Live and on demand content+Pay-per-view events offered
Reasons to avoid
-Only 1 stream at a time-No 4K content

New Zealand sports fans will certainly get a kick out of Spark Sport, a streaming service which offers live and on demand coverage of all the major sporting events you can think of, along with access to pay-per-view events.

Catch all the New Zealand Whiteferns and Blackcaps games you can handle, along with Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League (including Conference League), NBA, NFL, UFC, ECB, Women's Super League, FIH Hockey Pro League, Ladies European Tour (LET) golf and much more.

Motorsports fans also get streaming access to Formula 1, World Rally Championship and MotoGP races, and Spark Sport even offers esports coverage with Blast Premier, which brings elite-level Counter-Strike play. 

All of the above comes at the very reasonable monthly price of NZ$24.99, however, it must be said that Spark Sport only offers a single HD stream at a time, which is a tad disappointing. Thankfully, device compatibility is plentiful.

And, you can test the service out first to see if it's right for you thanks to Spark Sport's 7-day free trial, so if you're a sports nut, you owe it to yourself to take it for a spin.

Sky Sport Now

(Image credit: Sky)

Sky Sport Now

Experience Sky Sport without a subscription or set top box

Specifications
Compatible devices: iOS, Android, Windows, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, PS4, Nvidia Shield, Samsung smart TV, Panasonic smart TV, TCL smart TV, Sony smart TV
Free trials: 7 days
Simultaneous streams: 1
Reasons to buy
+Loads of great content+Excellent device compatibility
Reasons to avoid
-It's far from cheap-Only 1 stream at a time

Sky is known for its all-encompassing approach to sports coverage, however, signing up for a cable subscription or set top box can be a bridge too far to cross for many people. It's with this in mind that Sky has introduced a dedicated streaming option in Sky Sport Now.

A subscription to Sky Sport Now will let you stream 12 Sky Sport and ESPN channels, with access to live and on-demand coverage, including the ability to rewind up to 24 hours if you miss an event. Additionally, you also get highlights, stats and the ability to access pay-per-view events (for an extra fee, of course).

In terms of sports, Sky Sport Now is a great place to stream all the action out of the Olympic Games, and it also provides coverage for cricket, rugby, netball, Rugby League, motorsport, basketball, football, tennis, golf and more. Furthermore, you also get access to beIN Sports Connect as part of your subscription, which gives you even more sports to sink your teeth into.

While Sky Sport Now's coverage is certainly impressive, it does come at a significant cost. A monthly subscription to Sky Sport Now will set you back NZ$39.99 per month, while a yearly subscription will cost you a somewhat staggering NZ$399.99. At these prices, you'll really want to be a truly devoted sports aficionado. 

That said, Sky Sport Now also offers a NZ$19.99 weekly pass that does not automatically renew, which is ideal for the occasional major sporting event. Before any of that though, you do have a 7-day free trial period to try the service out.

Given how expensive it is, it's a little baffling that Sky Sport Now only offers one FHD concurrent stream, though we do appreciate that the service is able to deliver that content at 60fps.

Shudder

(Image credit: Shudder / TechRadar)

Shudder

The streaming service that's a bloody good time

Specifications
Compatible devices: iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV
Free trials: 7 days
Simultaneous streams: 1-3
Reasons to buy
+Impressive horror library+Original content+Low subscription price
Reasons to avoid
-720p max resolution-Middling device support

A streaming service that's strictly for horror fans, Shudder offers a vast selection of fright flicks, both old and new, along with a growing library of original films, TV shows, documentaries, podcasts and live streaming events.

Shudder Originals include FX guru Greg Nicotero's Creepshow TV series, the blood-drenched cult flick Revenge, the indigenous zombie film Blood Quantum, and the critically adored movie Host, which sees a demonic presence infiltrate an online séance.

Admittedly, Shudder has some work to do when it comes to competing with the big streaming players. For one, its maximum streaming resolution is 720p (with many older movies available in standard definition only). And while its device compatibility has come a long way since its US launch, there's no Shudder app for gaming consoles, and many TV brands are also lacking native support. 

That said, you can't argue with Shudder's price, which is set at a very reasonable NZ$7.99 per month (and even cheaper at its yearly rate of NZ$79.99, essentially netting you two free months of the service). 

If you're a horror aficionado with a thirst for (fake) blood, you can test the Shudder waters with a free 7-day trial.

Stephen Lambrechts

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, and consuming all forms of media at the highest quality possible. He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases or boutique Blu-ray labels.