The number of homes in the United Kingdom subscribing to at least one of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV passed 15 million in the first quarter of 2020. That is 53% of homes, an increase of over 5% in a quarter and over 12% in a year. Nearly a quarter of homes subscribe to two or more of these services, which is up 1.6 million year-on-year. Viewing of such services has also increased significantly as a result of coronavirus restrictions. In the first three months of 2020, a fifth of households subscribed to a new service. Half of them were for Disney+.
Netflix has grown subscriptions in the United Kingdom over a year by over 13% to 13.01 million homes. If it maintains its recent rate of growth, Netflix could have 15 million subscribers in the United Kingdom by the first quarter of 2021.
Amazon Prime Video subscriptions have increased by 32% to 7.86 million homes in a year and by 62% in two years.
Now TV has 1.62 million homes, which is around the same number as a year previously, having apparently lost over 300,000 subscribers in nine months.
There has also been a steady rise in the number of internet-connected televisions, now available to 37.7 million individuals across the United Kingdom, an increase of 1.66 million in a quarter and 5.17 million in a year.
The number of homes with Sky satellite television has declined to 8.41 million, according to BARB research, down from 8.61 million over a year and a peak of 9.46 million in 2012.
The figures come from the BARB establishment survey for the first quarter of 2020. Face-to-face interviewing was suspended due to the coronavirus restrictions but is expected to resume for the third quarter.
The volume of viewing that is unattributed to measured channels has risen significantly during the coronavirus restrictions, as has traditional television viewing. However, unattributed viewing, which includes online video subscription services, at an average of 85 minutes a day, was 90% higher in week 20 of 2020 compared to the same week the previous year.
In comparison, average daily viewing of BBC channels was over 70 minutes a day, rising to over 80 minutes if viewing of programmes within seven days is included.
The real risk to broadcasters is that viewers, many in social isolation, retain the habit of watching more online video subscription services at the expense of traditional channels.
Conversely, increased viewing of traditional channels shows that many viewers continue to value the sense of social connection that broadcasting continues to provide.
Meanwhile, Kantar, one of the research companies contracted by BARB, has independently published its own research. This is based on a panel of 15,000 consumers, boosted by 2,5000 new subscriber interviews each quarter.
It suggests that 56% of households in the United Kingdom have at least one online video subscription service. It estimates that 6 million new online video subscriptions were purchased in the first quarter of 2020.
That could include Disney+. Kantar suggests that 52% of new subscriptions in the first three months of the year were for Disney+, which only launched on 24 March. It said almost half of all Disney+ subscribers signed up for an annual subscription, demonstrating the effectiveness of the £49.99 pre-order offer.
55% of Disney+ subscribers already had at least one other online video subscription service. Homes in the United Kingdom with a subscription service have an average of 2.3 subscriptions, compared to an average of 3.1 in the United States. However, the research notes that 2.1 million households with multiple subscriptions plan to cancel at least one within three months.