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INDUSTRY / MARKET UK

UK sees loss of half a million streaming subscriptions for Q2 of 2022

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- Inflation rises and shifting consumer habits have contributed to declines for SVoD services such as Netflix, aligning with global trends

UK sees loss of half a million streaming subscriptions for Q2 of 2022

Netflix, one of the highest-valued media companies in the world, saw some of its most negative publicity to date at the beginning of this year, when its global subscriber numbers finally began to decline after years of growth, triggering a stock price fall of 35%. These unhappy numbers for the Northern California-based company are compounded by recent developments in the UK, one of its most valued consumer territories, as well as a key area for its production of original content. A total of 488k households have cancelled subscriptions to streaming services (also known as SVoDs) in the UK, numbering 1.66m accounts in total, according to recent data published by the market research firm Kantar, running up to June 2022. Younger audiences, grouped as under-24s, were the most likely demographic to cancel. Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video also saw far more significant gains in subscribers than Netflix, with their specific content motivating new users to sign up. 

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According to Kantar’s research, the primary reason for the cancellations across all demographics was “wanting to save money,” mapping onto the cost of living crisis that the UK is undergoing, with inflation hitting a 40-year high of 9.4%. The proportion of SVoD users giving this reason was 38% in Q1 ’22, and 36% in Q2 ’22, contrasting starkly with the figure of 24% from a year ago. Under 24s in particular were noted for turning their attention to free-to-use services like TikTok and traditional broadcasters’ platforms such as BBC iPlayer and All4. 

The news has been reported in the national press, in addition to media trade publications. Dominic Sunnebo, global insight director at Kantar, told the BBC, “It is increasingly less about taking out Netflix or Prime Video as an overall entertainment solution and more about wanting to watch Stranger Things or Reacher. […] This puts significant pressure on these services to ensure they are able to quickly entice them to stay subscribing.” 

Sunnebo was more specific about the particular UK streaming landscape in a comment as part of Kantar’s research: “Disney performed well in Q2 because of its broad and diverse content inventory, whereas AppleTV’s success in the GB market came because of focusing on local content, such as popular British TV shows.” Amazon Prime winning the rights to show Premier League football games, in addition to Sky/NOW TV’s ongoing coverage, is also not to be discounted in the platforms’ race for subscribers. 

Soon after this data was published, Netflix revealed its own global Q2 results, reporting a decline of almost a million subscribers, falling short of analysts’ gloomier predictions of a potential 1.5-2 million decline. Still, it is moving forward with plans to roll out a cheaper, ad-supported tier in 2023, and continues to crack down on password sharing. 

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