Home entertainment: a quick guide to streaming services, VPNs and audiobooks

Around a third of the global population is under lockdown or subject to other restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, what will you do with all your extra hours at home?

Home entertainment: a quick guide to streaming services, VPNs and audiobooks

Here, The Local offers a guide to some of your leading options for streaming services and audio books – as well as VPNs that can unblock regionally-restricted content and protect your privacy.

Streaming services

Amazon Prime Video

Home to popular series such as The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle. New films are added every month and you can watch on up to three devices at a time. Amazon has around 150 million Prime subscribers, who get Prime Video included.


This niche provider specialising in factual series was founded by Discovery Channel creator John Hendricks. Available worldwide, it covers science, technology, history, nature and more. Kids’ programmes offer education on everything from space probes to tsunamis. CuriosityStream has grown rapidly to pass 13 million subscribers.

HBO Nordic

HBO has a long-standing reputation for high quality production with recent successes including the Golden Globe-winner Chernobyl and Westworld. If you want something lighter, its comedy offerings include all ten seasons of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. HBO Nordic has been offering streaming across Scandinavia since 2012.


The name has become synonymous with streaming. Netflix has 167 million subscribers – but its global market share has fallen amid growing competition. The choice of TV shows and films is vast and Netflix Original productions such as Stranger Things and Ozark have enjoyed great success.

SF Anytime and SF Kids

Available across Scandinavia, SF Anytime offers a wide range of international content – and the chance to discover some Swedish classics. Signing up to SF Kids allows you to find old favourites to introduce your children to – or let them search the latest releases for themselves.

Virtual private networks (VPN)

Know the series you want to watch or the game you want to play but have found it’s not available in your region? Or maybe you just want online privacy and to protect your digital identity? The answer in both cases is a VPN. Here are five leading providers:


CyberGhost pledges to keep you anonymous online and ensure your entire connection cannot be tracked. One subscription can be used on up to seven devices and apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and more.


You can protect an unlimited number of devices with ZenMate, which offers at least 74 global server locations. It offers apps for all your devices. It has attracted more than 40 million users in 160 countries since 2013.


ExpressVPN has servers at 160 locations in 94 countries and invites you to join up to “say goodbye to geo-blocks”. A single subscription comes with apps for all devices and a 30-day money-back guarantee.


This VPN promises “next-generation encryption” and a choice of more than 5,900 servers in 59 countries. NordVPN is compatible with all popular platforms and allows you to secure up to six devices with one account.


SurfShark is not shy of baring its teeth and claims to be “eating other VPN deals alive”. Subscribers can use this VPN on unlimited devices and are able to search Netflix libraries from 15 countries.



Nextory offers audiobooks and ebooks for individuals and families – with subscription packages for between one and four users. Features of the app include the ability to create reading lists, reading diaries and individual child profiles. 


Storytel offers a range of subscription choices for individuals and families. All of them offer unlimited access and the chance to listen and read via mobiles and tablets. Storytel will also give you book recommendations.


Audible, part of Amazon, offers a vast choice of non-fiction and fiction across many genres; more than 200,000 titles in all. Audible Original Podcasts include documentaries and comedies. Paid membership includes one audiobook per month.

Google Audiobooks

You can now buy a wide range of audiobooks on Google Play, as well as ebooks. You can make purchases without a subscription and get personal recommendations once you've finished a book.



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Spotify agrees to $43.45 million fund to settle copyright suits

Swedish music streaming leader Spotify has agreed to set up a $43.45 million fund to settle a potentially costly pair of US copyright lawsuits from artists, lawyers said.

Spotify agrees to $43.45 million fund to settle copyright suits
File photo of the Spotify app. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The move marks the latest effort by the Swedish company to turn the page on messy disputes as it considers a public listing amid the soaring growth of streaming.

The settlement would end lawsuits spearheaded by two indie songwriters who double as academics — folk rock singer Melissa Ferrick and David Lowery, frontman of alternative rock bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven.

The two had pursued class-action cases — meaning a mass of musicians could claim payouts — with Ferrick seeking $200 million and Lowery asking for $150 million.

The artists had accused Spotify, which boasts of offering instant access to 30 million songs, of recklessly putting music online without securing mechanical rights — the permission to reproduce copyrighted material — from the tracks' composers.

Spotify and other streaming services pay royalties both to performers and songwriters — who are often lesser known and, for older and more obscure songs, more difficult to identify.

Under the settlement filing that needs to be approved by a federal judge in New York, Spotify would set up the $43.45 million fund to compensate songwriters for lack of licensing.

Spotify would also pay for streams of the tracks afterward — which the filing said would “easily total tens of millions of dollars in future royalties.”

READ ALSO: Spotify expands with US headquarters move

Steven Sklaver, a Los Angeles-based lawyer who co-led the case, called the settlement especially significant as Spotify had already reached a deal last year with the National Music Publishers' Association.

The association, which represents songwriters under major US publishers and was not involved in the class-action suit, secured around $21 million from Spotify.

Sklaver, a partner with the firm Susman Godfrey, estimated that hundreds of thousands of songwriters would qualify as part of the class seeking payment from Spotify.

But the national association has said that more than 96 percent of music publishers accepted last year's deal. They are ineligible for the latest settlement — meaning much bigger payouts for indie artists such as Lowery and Ferrick who held out.

Under the settlement, Spotify would work with other industry players including record labels to digitize copyright records for musical works before 1978, when US law in its current form took effect.

Spotify would also support the creation of an outside body to help identify unmatched tracks and set up an auditing system so songwriters can verify the accuracy of royalty payments.

Spotify did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

The company, which as a private company does not need to disclose financial figures, was estimated to be worth more than $8 billion in 2015 when it secured investors' financing.

That figure is likely to have risen sharply with the rapid growth of streaming and Spotify, which said in March that it had more than 50 million paying subscribers.

READ ALSO: Spotify planning on going public, but not the traditional way

Spotify has long mulled going public, likely by listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Last week the company again raised expectations by naming four new members to its board, three of them with experience in the entertainment industry.

Fueled by streaming, the global music industry has posted two straight years of solid growth, the first substantial expansion since the start of the internet age two decades ago.

But Spotify and other streaming services have frequently been hit by complaints by artists who say that they are insufficiently paid — although the number of musicians who boycott streaming has dwindled to a trickle.