Viewers in the United Kingdom spent a third as much time viewing Netflix as the BBC in 2021. In the ten years since it first offered its online video service in the United Kingdom, Netflix has become a household name, with people watching it for an average of approaching 20 minutes a day, some more than others.
Netflix first extended its online video service to the United Kingdom in January 2012, having started streaming movies five years previously.
A report Enders Analysis, Netflix — a decade in the UK, from finds that Netflix accounted for 7% of total video viewing in 2021, which is about the same as Channel 4, compared to 16% for ITV or 22% for the BBC. YouTube made up 14% of total video viewing. The total share of viewing for broadcasters, including their channels and online services, fell from 95% to 71% over the decade.
The report estimates that around 16.7 million households in the United Kingdom subscribe to Netflix, out of around 27 million homes with television.
Viewing of Netflix rose significantly in 2020, coinciding with periods of national lockdown. Those aged 25-34 watched for an average of over 35 minutes a day in 2020. Average viewing across all individuals more than doubled to 20 minutes a day, remaining around the same in 2021.
It should be noted that those averages, based on BARB and Comscore data, include homes that do not have access to Netflix. They therefore include people who do not watch Netflix at all, as well as those that watch a lot, possibly watching sequential episodes for hours at a time.
The report attributes the increase in Netflix viewing is partly attributable to viewing convenience, noting: “We believe that predominantly this is a product of better distribution and experience, rather than of inherently superior content.”
The growth of Netflix has emerged from a strangely symbiotic relationship with broadcasters, who were initially happy to see their back catalogue programmes distributed on the service and continue to use its co-production investment in drama.
With Netflix commissioning more fully funded original programming in the United Kingdom, broadcasters may find it increasingly difficult to compete as production budgets rise.
The report notes: “The streamer has deftly navigated the path from insurgent to joining the same establishment that it radically inverted — through considerate industry participation and self-regulation — however further questions will inevitably be asked about the company’s growing influence upon Britain’s cultural fabric.”