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Streaming trend taking over Europe, but consumers already feeling financial pinch

The average European household subscribes to slightly more than three premium streaming services, according to new survey data from Bango, but price increases and the sheer volume of options are causing financial and choice fatigue among consumers there.

The average European household subscribes to slightly more than three premium streaming services, according to new survey data from Bango, but price increases and the sheer volume of options are causing financial and choice fatigue among consumers there.

Bango's Digital Vending Machine connects services and their customers with subscription-based offerings like streaming products
(Photo by Matthew Keys for The Desk)

British households are subscribed to an average of more than three premium streaming services, and spend over £630 per year (around U.S. $800 per year) juggling the costs of those different products, according to new market research released by Bango on Wednesday.

The data point was outlined in a new report called “European Subscription Wars: Super Bundling Awakens,” which is based on responses from more than 5,000 streaming customers across Europe. The report follows similar surveys conducted in the United States and Latin America, which Bango released earlier this year.

While American and Latin American viewers have been gravitating toward streaming services for more than a decade, the trend has only just started in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. For decades, TV fans there were super-served by broadcast and cable networks that offer time-shifted channels, which presented programs on a one-hour delay or longer, so people could watch an in-progress program from the start or at a later time.

The introduction of Netflix, Prime Video and Disney Plus has accelerated the trend toward streaming, one that broadcasters are increasingly trying to catch up with. Over the past two years, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have announced plans to invest more content and spend more time marketing their services in order to address the shift, particularly among younger viewers. Broadcasters in other countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Italy, have formulated similar plans.

The five countries are among the most-mature streaming markets in Europe: The average household in each country subscribes to around three premium streaming video services, according to Bango’s survey. While the market still lags behind the U.S. in that metric (the average American household subscribes to slightly more than four services, according to Bango), Europeans are shelling out just about as much cash to juggle those services.

Europeans are also experiencing an economic trend that American streamers have long grappled with: Price increases. Recent price hikes from Netflix and Disney Plus convinced nearly half of European streamers surveyed by Bango to cancel one or more service.

But the appetite for streaming services is not waning, even in spite of the price hikes, Bango says. Sixty percent of British households said they’d sign up for another service if they could afford it. Some services, including Prime Video and Disney Plus, have introduced ad-supported tiers in the region, meaning the subscription average is likely to increase over time.

A stock image of soccer.
(Stock image by Pixabay)

Sports is also accelerating the trend, with Europeans signaling a strong interest in signing up for a service to watch live events. Twenty-two percent of streamers surveyed by Bango said they’d sign up for a sports-inclusive service to watch the UEFA European Championship football (soccer) tournament, which around the same number said they’d sign up for a service to watch the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In most areas, telecast rights to the Olympics are shared between a free-to-air public service broadcaster like the BBC, France Télévisions or ARD, and Warner Bros. Discovery’s pan-European pay TV outlet Eurosport.

The sheer number of streaming options now available in Europe is leading to a feeling of overload among some TV fans, with around two-thirds of people surveyed by Bango said there were too many services to choose from. Nearly half of those surveyed also expressed an annoyance that they couldn’t manage their video subscription from a single platform, and around a third felt “locked in” by current plans.

Taken together, some are turning to piracy to watch as much content as they can in a single place, with 19 percent of Europeans surveyed by Bango using an illicit streaming service. Cost is one consideration, but ease of use is another, and illegal video platforms tend to offer a wealth of content from a central location without the burden of starting and stopping subscriptions.

“The U.K. consumer’s appetite for subscriptions now adds-up to a material chunk of monthly household spending,” said Paul Larbey, the CEO of Bango. “But with so many options — and so many bills to pay — people need better ways to manage their subscriptions.”

Which all leads up to a central point, one that Bango has made in its prior studies from the United States and Latin America: Content hubs can serve as a good way to engage streaming customers by offering low-cost subscription bundles and a way to activate and deactivate plans from a central location.

And, guess who offers a turnkey solution that encapsulates both ideas?

Bingo: It’s Bango.

Over the past few years, Bango has marketed itself as a technology vendor that enables subscription-based services, like wireless phone providers, to offer subscriptions to other services as part of their plan.

Using a platform called the Digital Vending Machine, Bango’s clients are able to connect with a number of third-party platforms like Netflix, BritBox and Max, to name a few. Once connected to the Digital Vending Machine, clients are able to offer their customers the same subscriptions that are billed for and managed through a central platform, and can even bundle subscription products together if they’d like.

Bango's Digital Vending Machine connects services and their customers with subscription-based offerings like streaming products. (Photo by Matthew Keys for The Desk)
Bango’s Digital Vending Machine connects services and their customers with subscription-based offerings like streaming products. (Photo by Matthew Keys for The Desk)

In the United States, Bango is working with a number of telecoms, including Verizon, which offers subscription bundles through its Plus-Play (+play) marketplace. Verizon’s wireless and home Internet customers can not only purchase subscriptions to services like Netflix, Max, Starz and AMC Plus, they are also eligible to receive discounts through special bundle offers (for instance, customers can bundle the ad-supported plans of Netflix and Max together for $10 per month, or around $8 less than what each service would cost on its own). Billing is facilitated by Bango and Verizon, and customers are charged through their wireless bills each month, with the video subscription or bundle remaining active as long as they keep their service.

The arrangement helps drive additional value to a wireless partner like Verizon, while helping the company increase customer satisfaction and lower churn. It also is a benefit for customers, who sometimes save money by bundling eligible services that they would otherwise buy on their own. Earlier this month, Bango’s Senior Vice President of Sales Luisa Muneratti affirmed the same success can be replicated in Latin America; now, Bango is proclaiming the same is true for Europe.

“Consumers want to jump between a range of different subscriptions, but they don’t want the headache of managing multiple accounts and paying multiple bills,” Larbey said. “With the rise of all-in-one subscription hubs in 2024, that headache will start to disappear.”

Will Bango ultimately lead telecoms and other subscription-based service providers to launch their own content hub? Maybe. According to investor materials reviewed by The Desk last month, Bango already has an agreement with BT (British Telecom) to use its Digital Vending Machine in the United Kingdom, though it wasn’t clear if BT has offered any third-party subscriptions utilizing the service. Bango was in “active discussions” with a number of other European telecoms to use the Digital Vending Machine as of last June — including Orange and Vodafone in the United Kingdom, Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Telefónica in Spain — but how far those talks progressed is not currently known, and the company won’t comment on its potential client relationships.

To download the Bango report “Subscription Wars: Super Bundling Awakens – Europe,” click or tap here.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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