The end of the rental shop

As Blockbuster goes into administration again, Alex Dymoke looks to the future of online TV and film rentals

BLINKBOX

WHAT IS IT?
Founded in 2006, Blinkbox is now owned by Tesco. It allows you to rent or buy films and TV shows online, which expire after 30 days.

WHAT’S ON IT?
The latest film and TV releases months – or sometimes years, the website claims – before subscription services.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Blinkbox doesn’t run a subscription service so you simply create an account with them and pay as you go with no monthly payment.

VALUE Four stars
SELECTION Three stars
EASE OF USE Four stars

LOVEFILM

WHAT IS IT?
The site started out as a postal-only service but it has since expanded into streaming. It was bought by Amazon for around £200m in 2011.

WHAT’S ON IT?
A huge film and TV archive that is constantly being added to, a DVD & Blu-Ray shop and film collections sorted by studio, directors and more.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Films are posted to your home address free of charge with a return envelope or you can stream them online via LoveFilm Instant.

VALUE Three stars
SELECTION Four stars
EASE OF USE Three stars

FILM 4OD

WHAT IS IT?
It’s the film arm of Channel 4 which makes British productions like This Is England and Four Lions. Its on-demand service is run by Filmflex.

WHAT’S ON IT?
Films. It leaves the TV part to 4OD. It has all the Film4 Seasons on it if you missed them first time round as well as a blog and exclusive interviews.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Register your account details and then pay for rentals as you go. You have 48 hours to watch online and 30 days to return it by post.

VALUE Two stars
SELECTION Four stars
EASE OF USE Three stars

iTUNES

WHAT IS IT?
This digital-only film and TV rental service run by Apple is linked to your iTunes account which makes it easy to watch on your iPhone or iPad.

WHAT’S ON IT?
New releases in film and TV alongside others from Apple’s catalogue. Some films and programmes are also available in HD.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Download straight into your iTunes library and you have 30 days to watch it or 48 hours from the first click, after which it deletes itself.

VALUE Three stars
SELECTION Three stars
EASE OF USE Three stars

NOW TV MONTH PASS

WHAT IS IT?
Sky's cumbersomely named new service designed to compete with Netflix offering ten TV channels plus movies.

WHAT’S ON IT?
Channels include Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, MTV and Fox, and there are also entire box sets of shows such as The Wire and Mad Dogs.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Visit nowtv.com and set up a £4.99 monthly payment. You’ll gain instant access to all of the content and channels.

VALUE Four stars
SELECTION Three stars
EASE OF USE Four stars

CINEMA PARADISO

WHAT IS IT?
The DVD rental website for art-house fans. Don't let the name put you off, there are plenty of mainstream titles as well.

WHAT’S ON IT?
The site specialises in foreign and independent movies with over 70,000 titles. TV is covered too, with TV box sets available in DVD and Blu-Ray.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Sign up and create a wish list of films. Cinema Paradiso then send you DVDs from your list. Watch, send back, then they send some more.

VALUE Four stars
SELECTION Four stars
EASE OF USE Three stars

NETFLIX

WHAT IS IT?
Netflix is an American company providing online, on-demand streaming of film and television. It also operates a DVD delivery rental service.

WHAT’S ON IT?
Thousands of films and plenty of TV shows. It has lured millions of subscribers with series like Breaking Bad (pictured) and House Of Cards.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Subscribe for £5.99 a month to watch films and TV episodes on your computer. If you have a PS3 or Xbox 360 you can watch them through your TV.

VALUE Four stars
SELECTION Three stars
EASE OF USE Five stars

FILM EE

WHAT IS IT?
A film service that can be downloaded via app stores, offering films for rent via streaming or downloading.

WHAT’S ON IT?
A library of over 700 titles, including the most up-to-date releases. You get one film per week for free.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Download via the app store, select your film, and then stream (or download) away. It costs 79p to rent a film but new releases set you back £3.99.

VALUE Three stars
SELECTION Two stars
EASE OF USE Four stars