The big decision for Spanish viewers: Netflix, HBO or Movistar?

We compare catalogues, prices and the technical aspects of the various streaming services

The launch of HBO Spain has further increased the choice of streaming television services, allowing us to watch what we want when we want, still a relative novelty in this country: Netflix came to Spain only a year ago, joining Movistar+ and other services such as Wuaki.tv or Filmin – the latter offering mainly movies.

An image fro HBO's flagship series 'Game of Thrones'.
An image fro HBO's flagship series 'Game of Thrones'.

So which is best? Which should we sign up for? We compare the pros and cons of the three main players, HBO Spain, Netflix and Movistar+.

Catalogues: Movistar+ is still unbeatable in this respect thanks to the mix of exclusive series and movies from its own channels and also from pay channels such as Fox, TNT, AXN, COSMO and AMC, giving it over 6,000 titles. Netflix has steadily expanded its offer this year with a strong emphasis on children’s television and documentaries. HBO has close to 100 series, an offer similar to what Netflix began with when it first launched in Spain. Most are from the HBO network, though a few are sourced from elsewhere. They also have films and documentaries.

Both HBO and Netflix offer a month’s free trial for new subscribers

Original Programming: One of the strengths of Netflix is its focus on producing its own material, meaning shows such as Narcos, Stranger Things or The Crown are exclusive to the network. It has already released its first Spanish production, a movie called 7 años (or, 7 Years), and is currently working on its first Spanish series, Las Chicas del Cable (or, Cable Girls). Movistar+ is also investing in original productions with several series to be released in 2017, created by household names such as Alberto Rodríguez, Cesc Gay and David Trueba. HBO will bring exclusive new releases from its own network such as Westworld and Divorce as well as shows from its international affiliates while Miguel Salvat, the former director of Movistar and Canal+, has been made responsible for original content in Spain.

Price: Both HBO and Netflix offer a month’s free trial. HBO’s monthly quota for subscribers is €7.99 (the free trial period for clients of Vodafone TV varies according to their contract). Meanwhile, Netflix has three plans – €7.99, €9.99 and €11.99 – that depend on the number of devices connected at any one time as well as the streaming quality. Both HBO and Netflix can be contracted independently of the Internet provider. Movistar+ on the other hand requires viewers to be signed up to Fusión Contigo with telecommunications provider, Telefónica, with a €7 deal for series and a €10 deal for movies.

One of the strengths of Netflix is that the interface is easy to use

Technical Aspects: One of the strengths of Netflix is that the interface is easy to use. It also allows for the creation of different profiles and the possibility of connecting up to four devices at any one time. The streaming quality adjusts automatically to the quality of the internet connection and offers content in 4K. Its personalized recommendations system is also excellent while a new service starting this week will allow many of its titles to be downloaded for offline viewing. All the content is available both in dubbed and original versions with a subtitle option.

HBO Spain has suffered technical problems during its Spanish launch, such as the synchronization of subtitles and registering complications. So far, it’s available on Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, Android and the web. Episodes of series transmitted simultaneously in the US and Spain are in original version with subtitles while the dubbed version takes a further 14 days to be aired. Only two devices can be connected at once and there is no option for creating different user profiles or watching without an Internet connection. Its content is in Full HD.

Movistar+ has also had problems with the synchronization of subtitles. It doesn’t allow for the creation of different user profiles and there can only be one device connected at any one time, although it allows up to four devices to be identified. You can see Movistar+ on the web, Smart TV, XBox, PS3, PS4, iOS and Android. The streaming quality is Full HD, though in 2017, it will have some titles available in 4K. It was ahead of Netflix in offering the possibility of downloading some of its titles for offline viewing. Much of the content can be watched either in dubbed or original version, although not all titles carry the subtitle option. Some of the series are available during a limited period of time only.

Number of Users: HBO has only been on the Spanish market for little more than a week so there is no data available concerning its user base, while Netflix has not released its user figures in Spain. However, according to a survey carried out by the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC), only 1.8% of the 12 million homes with an internet connection in Spain use Netflix equaling around 216,000 users. According to the same survey, 7.8% of homes with internet use Movistar+, or around 936,000 users.

Where can I see Game of Thrones? This is currently the most popular series on air and with the arrival of HBO, questions are being asked, such as, where will I be able to watch the last two seasons of the series? And what about after that? The answer is that it will be available both on Movistar+ Series – as before – and also on HBO (with simultaneous transmission in the US), since HBO will have to share the titles Movistar+ bought from it before it launched in Spain. Of course, HBO will have all the previous episodes available to viewers while Movistar+ will only have a few. This differs from House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, over which Movistar still has exclusive rights with respect to the new seasons despite the fact they are Netflix productions. Netflix does, however, offer viewers access to earlier episodes.

English version by Heather Galloway.


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