The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Streaming growth slowing in United Kingdom, survey finds

Fewer British households are buying new streaming services, and many are reporting streaming fatigue, according to the results of a new survey.

Fewer British households are buying new streaming services, and many are reporting streaming fatigue, according to the results of a new survey.

The home screen of the Walt Disney Company's flagship streaming televisions ervice Disney Plus.
The home screen of the Walt Disney Company’s flagship streaming televisions ervice Disney Plus. (Image courtesy the Walt Disney Company, Graphic by The Desk)

Around 38 percent of British households who participated in a new survey affirmed they stream more content now than they did one year ago, according to consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners.

The survey indicates streaming growth hast started to slow in the United Kingdom, with the number of households affirming they consume more content through digital platforms as opposed to traditional television down around 10 percentage points.

The results are somewhat of a surprise, given the uptick in streaming platforms over the last 12 months, with media brands like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 focusing more on their streaming build-outs and foreign firms like Walt Disney Company, Paramount Global and Comcast investing more in streaming services targeted to British audiences.

“As the number of streaming subscriptions available to U.K. consumers continues to increase, the budgets of those consumers isn’t getting any larger, and they’re actually becoming more price sensitive,” Greg Harwood, a partner at Simon-Kucher, said in a statement. “Add to this the fact that a significant portion of subscribers are already overwhelmed with the amount of content they currently have access to, and providers will need to work hard to distinguish themselves in a saturated market.”

The United Kingdom has a robust network of free-to-air broadcast television networks, which include digital-only channels that cater to niche interests, as well as time-shift channels that allow viewers to watch and record shows and movies later in the day or week. Households that watch live TV are subject to the television license, an annual tax that costs around £160 (about $210) and which funds the country’s public broadcasters.

Households that stream channels online are also subject to the television tax, but consumers who only watch video on-demand services like Disney Plus and Netflix aren’t required to pay the license — which means households are likely to save money if they are willing to forego live news and sports, and only watch films and TV shows on demand.

According to Simon-Kucher, 76 percent of consumers who use those video on-demand services watch at least two hours of television shows per week, and 71 percent watch at least two hours of movies during the same time frame. The figures represent a 2 percent drop for TV shows and a 7 percent drop for film compared to the results of a similar survey conducted last year.

Consumers say price is the most-important factor when choosing a streaming service, followed next by the type of content offered in the service’s video library. Fewer consumers said new content is particularly important, with most British streamers embracing older, familiar shows and movies that are the comfort foods of television.

Among households that dropped a streaming service last year, around 33 percent of consumers said cost considerations were the primary reason, followed by a need to manage their various streaming subscriptions. Around 22 percent of consumers canceled one or more services during 2022, while the number of customers who signed up for a new service dropped 10 percent.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).