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Video streaming subscriptions fall by two million in 2022

People cut back on video streaming services in their droves last year as the cost of living rose sharply.

Analysts Kantar said the number of paid-for video streaming subscriptions in the UK fell by two million, from 30.5 million to 28.5 million.

Demand had picked up again at Christmas, Kantar said, but people were “quickly looking to cut back again”.

Inflation, the rate at which prices rise, is at its highest level for about 40 years, hitting people’s finances.

“Brits’ love of streaming remains as strong as ever, but the effect of high inflation meant consumers were forced to make difficult choices to balance their finances,” said Dominic Sunnebo, Kantar’s global director of entertainment on demand.

“That financial pressure increasingly meant cutting back on video streaming subscriptions, particularly where households often had three or more different services in the same household.”

Gregory Bortkiewicz, 36, and his partner Tanya Kant, 37, from Brighton subscribed to Netflix a decade ago and chose to cancel their subscription last summer.

It was the only streaming service that they were subscribed to but chose to make the cut to help save costs.

“I always found myself flicking though it and not finding good content so me and my partner decided we should cancel it,” Greg, a consultant, told the BBC.

He said he does not regret it as “there are so many other options and it got to the point where the little amount we were paying, adds up”.

Instead he and his partner use options that do not require an upfront subscription fee, such as Channel 4 on demand.

Kantar said the UK streaming market returned to growth in the last three months of the year, with new subscriptions up by 300,000 compared with the previous quarter.

It said that Prime Video, AppleTV+ and Paramount+ had driven the gains.

But Kantar said it reflected “short-term” demand in the run-up to Christmas, and more than one in 10 consumers planned to cancel one or more subscriptions in the first three months of this year.

Last summer Netflix, the world’s biggest video streaming company, said it had lost almost a million subscribers between April and July worldwide after it put up prices.

But in the last three months of 2022, the Californian company reported gaining seven million, taking the total number of signed-up viewers to 231 million.

The firm has launched a cheaper service with adverts in 12 countries, including the UK, which it plans to roll out more widely.

But it also plans to crack down on password sharing, charging users more if they want to share Netflix with people they do not live with, and says it expects a negative reaction in the short term.

One of its main rivals, Walt Disney, has also continued to grow its streaming business despite cost-of-living pressures.

In November, the media giant said it had added more than 12 million subscribers globally to its Disney+ streaming platform in the three months ending in September.

However, Kantar said growth at Disney+ in the UK was slowing, with the platform accounting for 11.7% of all new subscribers in the last three months of 2022 – down from 19.3% in the same period a year earlier.

New subscriber growth also slowed at Now TV and Britbox, it BBC

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