NEWS5 August 2021

Streaming subscriptions increased in 2020

Covid-19 Media News Telecoms Trends UK Youth

UK – UK streaming subscriptions rose 50% to more than 30 million in 2020 as Netflix overtook pay TV for the first time, according to Ofcom research.

Netflix button on TV remote control

Ofcom’s annual study of the UK’s media habits found that the average adult spent a third of their waking hours watching television and online video, equalling a daily average of five hours and 40 minutes.

The average hours watched a day was 47 minutes more than in 2019, and was driven by people spending twice as much time a day watching subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

By September 2020, three in every five ( 60%) UK homes had signed up to a subscription streaming service, compared with 49% in 2019.

Ofcom found that 52% of homes have a Netflix subscription, compared with 48% which have a pay TV provider, such as Sky.

The main streaming services earned an estimated £2.11bn in UK revenues during 2020 – a 28% increase in real terms on 2019’s £1.66bn and more than double their revenues in 2017 (£1.03bn).

Broadcast television saw a nine minute increase in average hours watched a day to a total three hours and 12 minutes, driven entirely by people aged 45 and over.

People aged 16 to 24 spent an hour and 17 minutes watching broadcast television, down from one hour and 21 minutes in 2019.
This meant that broadcast television accounted for 61% of adults’ total viewing, compared with 61% in 2019. Live sport, drama and news were the most popular broadcast television shows.

Yih-Choung Teh, group director, strategy and research, at Ofcom, said: “The pandemic undoubtedly turbo-charged viewing to streaming services, with three in five UK homes now signed up.

“But with subscriber growth slowing into 2021 and lockdown restrictions easing, the challenge for the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney will be to ensure a healthy pipeline of content and keep customers signed up.”