Streaming growth peaking? UK households cancel a record number of subscriptions as inflation squeezes spending

Inflation is running high, putting enormous pressure on British households. Video subscriptions are among the first to cut unnecessary expenses in response to the rising cost of living.

Data from market research firm Kantar shows that in the first three months of this year, UK consumers cancelled about 1.5 million video subscription accounts, a record level , affecting platforms including Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and Now.

Based on interviews with 14,500 people, Kantar found that around 3% of UK households subscribed to TV programmes in the first quarter, but that was a marked drop from 4.2% in the same period last year.

The researchers found that saving money was the top reason for cancelling TV programmes, with adults paying £159 a year for TV licences, making them particularly wary of paying to watch TV.

It’s worth noting that in markets including the UK, several TV suppliers have raised prices, partly to compensate for rising labour and facility costs. Take Netflix, which recently made its second round of price hikes in the UK in 18 months, raising the standard monthly subscription fee from £10 to £11.

Soaring energy, clothing and food prices pushed inflation to another 30-year record in March, data from the Office for National Statistics showed last week.

As more households cancel their video subscriptions, fears are mounting that the pandemic-fueled streaming boom is over.

Netflix shares have fallen 43% so far this year as global subscriber numbers disappoint investors.

While 58% of households keep at least one streaming service, down just 1.3% from the end of 2021, canceling services is another indication that viewers are becoming more discerning about streaming platforms.

At the same time, options for UK viewers are expanding, and streaming competition is fiercer. Late last year, the streaming service launched in the United States by NBC Universal, a subsidiary of media giant Comcast, landed on Sky TV and NOW in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Scandinavian streamer Viaplay plans to log in in the UK this year.

Dominic Sunnebo, director of Kantar Global Insights, said the survey results have broken cold water for streaming providers. “In this very competitive market,” streaming services must prove their worth to consumers.


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