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UK Entertainment Spotlight: Full ‘Stream’ Ahead for New On-Demand Players

6 minute read

It’s been a month of new releases in the entertainment market with four iconic global entertainment brands launching their own answers to the rise of streaming services in popular culture. Apple, Disney, and ‘Britbox’ - the joint venture between two British television channels, the BBC and ITV - have all launched to the public in a matter of weeks. It’s clear that traditional entertainment brands are all vying to claim their slice of the pie in the online streaming market. This should come as no surprise…Cardlytics data shows that UK consumer spend on streaming services – such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and NOW TV – rose by 28 percent in the last year alone[1]. It’s a trend that is set to continue. Month-on-month spend growth last year remained consistent, between 20 to 35 percent, indicating the meteoric rise of streaming services shows no signs of slowing.Despite the average annual cost of a streaming subscription staying at an affordable £10, just 16 percent of the average price of an annual paid TV subscription, spend on streaming services now equates to 10 percent of total spend on paid TV subscriptions offered by the likes of Sky, BT, and Virgin. The numbers are stark and show the significant appetite for streaming services among consumers.Yet, there’s a clear age divide in the use of different entertainment services with 20-39-year-olds accounting for 30 percent of overall streaming spend. This reveals it is the younger generations who are responsible for driving the growth in streaming. By comparison, older generations remain loyal to traditional paid TV, responsible for the majority (66 percent) of spend in this area. The big ‘switch’While Sky, Virgin, and BT continue to take the lion’s share of consumer spending in the entertainment market by value, the number of consumers switching to new TV streaming services is on the rise and eating into their market share.Our data finds that consumer switching from paid TV to streaming services grew by 40 percent in the last year. Again, it's young people driving the trend, with over half (60 percent) of 20-39-year-olds having switched from a paid TV subscription to a streaming service in the last year alone. That said, traditional paid TV brands needn’t be too concerned. While switching was on the rise, spend on paid TV subscriptions did not experience a dip between 2018 and 2019, suggesting that traditional brands are themselves winning new, higher spending customers. Clever partnerships, like Sky’s tie-up with Netflix to offer the service as part of its ‘Ultimate on Demand’ subscription package, show paid TV providers are working hard to stay relevant and respond to the growing demand for streaming services. The cost of content Netflix is the most popular streaming subscription in the UK, with 11 million subscribers, but it is becoming increasingly expensive, with its most popular package now priced at £8.99 a month. The rising cost of streaming services is no coincidence, as content plays an increasingly important role in enticing customers. More players entering the streaming market have created an arms race for content, with each provider investing heavily to produce the next hit series, film, or documentary which will keep consumers coming back for more. In April 2019, the final series of Game of Thrones aired on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW TV, with the finale drawing an average of 3.2 million viewers in the UK[2], leading to a 28 percent spike in spend on streaming services that month versus the same month the year before. For leading brands like Netflix and Amazon, using insights like these to better target their audiences is a way of ensuring they defend their prominent positions from encroaching competition. Likewise, analysing spend data to identify which and why audiences still watch paid TV will help paid TV providers to personalise their offers further and maintain their market share. As the entertainment wars intensify, it’ll be those who can use data most effectively to understand their consumers who will come out on top.

[1] Data was obtained in the year up to September 2019, and compared with the corresponding period in the prior year. For 2018, data was tracked from September 2017 to September 2018


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