One in five UK homes signed up for a new video streaming subscription during COVID-19 lockdown

Kantar’s Entertainment On-Demand service shows Netflix remains in control, but Disney is catching up fast.
28 May 2020

Global Strategic Insights Director, Worldpanel Division

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Our Entertainment on Demand service, launched today in the UK, reveals that more than 6 million new video streaming subscriptions were purchased across the UK in the three months to April 2020. 21% of British households purchased a new video subscription as they sought new entertainment options during the COVID19 lockdown period, taking the average number of subscriptions to 2.3 per household.

We also know that across February, March and April: 

  • 56% of UK households have at least one Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) subscription
  • 52% of new subscriptions were for Disney+, despite the service only launching 24th March
  • Almost half of all Disney+ subscribers signed up for an annual subscription, demonstrating the effectiveness of the £49.99 pre-order offer.
  • Tiger King beat the Mandalorian as the most cited content enjoyed, even amongst Disney+ subscribers
  • Access to back catalogues proved a key differentiator, creating challenges for those brands without wide ranging content
  • Netflix dominated in customer advocacy, with a Net Promoter Score of +46, far higher than its competitive set

Entertainment On Demand is our newest offering in the UK, designed to help entertainment industry and investors understand the full entertainment subscription service consumer journey.

Entertainment on Demand UK

While Netflix continues as the most popular streaming service, findings show that Disney+ is the rising star of Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD). Despite only launching in the UK in March, over half of new subscriptions in the past three months have been for its service. 55% of new Disney+ subscribers were stacked, meaning they already held at last one other SVoD service.

By contrast Netflix is the top driver of category growth, with 44% of its new subscribers accessing SVoD for the first time. The service also has the highest level of customer satisfaction in terms of the variety of TV shows it offers, the amount of original content and ease of use. All three of the most recommended series over the last three months – Tiger King, Ozark and Stranger Things – are Netflix exclusive. Original content and an extensive back catalogue has also driven significant growth for Disney+; 40% of subscribers cite The Mandalorian as their reason for joining the service.

As more UK consumers turn to subscription-funded streaming for their entertainment needs, it’s clear they want a wide range of content, with Netflix and Disney+ the clear winners. With over half of SVoD subscribers happy with the value for money subscriptions offer, this move towards stacked services is likely to continue.

With the average SVoD household in the UK subscribing to 2.3 services, (compared to 3.1 in the USA) there is still room for growth. 44% of UK households do not yet have any SVoD service, Disney’s pre-launch which offered an annual subscription for a reduced £49.99, generated almost half of its total subscriptions today. One note of caution though is that 2.1 million households with multiple subscriptions plan to cancel at least one in the next three months.

COVID-19 has no doubt driven the short term-gains for subscription services, but with so many planning to cut their subscriptions in the coming months SVoD brands need to adopt new marketing strategies to stem the flow. Disney’s pre-launch special was a perfect example of how successful this can be, with almost half of its customers signing up to its annual subscription offer.

Based on a longitudinal panel of 15,000 consumers and boosted by 2,500 new subscriber interviews each quarter, the service is designed to help the broadcast industry and investors understand the full consumer journey for digital video subscription services. The UK launch of Entertainment on Demand follows the U.S. launch in March, which highlighted the intensity of competition within video on demand streaming.

Additional findings from the research reveal:

  • AppleTV+ sees high levels of engagement across Smartphone and Tablet, but lower than competition on TV – this highlights Apple’s focus and challenge on driving Apple TV hardware sales to enable viewership
  • Amazon Prime Video subscribers are impressed with its variety of TV series and ease of use, but are less content with the lack of new release films available.
  • Smart TV purchases were a primary trigger for 1 in 5 new SVoD subscriptions
  • Customer advocacy and satisfaction increases across all platforms over time, meaning the onboarding experience is crucial to ensure long term retention
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