UK streaming market shows signs of growth with SVoD and FAST on the rise in Q3

Disney+ roughly tripled its rate of acquisition in September thanks to a campaign to attract new subscribers.
17 October 2023
UK EoD Q3 2022 IMAGE

Global Strategic Insights Director, Worldpanel Division

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Worldpanel’s latest Entertainment on Demand (EoD) data on the Great Britain’s streaming market uncovers the following behaviours within the Video on Demand (VoD) market between July - September 2023:

  • Between July – September, the number of British households with at least one paid video streaming subscription service (SVoD), increased by half a million from Q2.
  • 19.8m British households have at least one paid video streaming service (SVoD) in their household, up from 19.3m the previous quarter.
  • Netflix claimed the top 3 most enjoyed titles over the quarter: The Witcher, The Lincoln Lawyer and Virgin River. In September, mini-series Ahsoka from Disney+ claimed the #2 spot .
  • “£1.99 for 3 months” campaign by Disney+ spurred a significant boost in acquisition rates in September.
  • Disney+ leads in new SVoD subscriptions in Q3, with a share of 22%.
  • With its highest ever recorded quarterly acquisition share, AppleTV+ ranks 2nd in new subscriptions in Q3, with a 15% share.
  • Discovery+ and Paramount+ continued to see rapid subscriber growth in Q3, with signs consumers are increasingly looking beyond the larger players for new content.
  • Netflix and Prime Video saw subscriber counts remain relatively flat over Q3 – highlighting the pressing need to generate additional revenues from launched and soon to be launched ad supported tiers.

Disney+ campaign near triples customer acquisition in September

Disney+ made a bold decision, and it paid off. In September, Disney’ launched a campaign to attract new subscribers by dropping the price of its streaming service to £1.99 for a full three months, for new subscribers. As a result, Disney roughly tripled its rate of acquisition in September, with those signing up overwhelmingly citing the price driven promotion as their key driver.

There was also a major uplift in new subscribers who recalled seeing a social or online ad campaign promoted by Disney+ during September, indicating a major marketing success and return on investment. The long-term success of the campaign will come down to how many new subscribers are retained once the price reverts to normal, which is expected in the run up to the Christmas period.

After multiple quarters where Disney+ saw subscriber losses at a global level the pressure is on to show shareholders it can swiftly return to a more sustainable footing. With subscriber losses at Disney+ Hotstar (its Indian streaming operation) responsible for the majority of losses to date, and the US market seeing intense competition, it’s not altogether surprising to see Disney up investments in markets like the UK and Europe to drive subscriber growth.

AppleTV+ sees highest ever share of new subscriptions

AppleTV+ saw its highest ever share of new subscribers in the third quarter, hitting an impressive 15% share. New hit series such as Hijack and familiar favourites such as Ted Lasso continue to attract significant numbers of signups – but at the same time churn rates remain high. To add a further complication to the AppleTV+ acquisition number, 38% who joined the service this quarter were at one-point previous subscribers, which is higher than key competitors.

One of the biggest challenges for Apple is turning those viewers who join to watch a specific series into long-term subscribers. Subscribers are consistently impressed with the quality of Apple’s shows, but they still don’t yet have the back catalogue to sustain viewing once those hero shows have been watched. It’s why shows like Friends and The Office continue to hold such value, as subscribers are often happy to fall back on familiar favourites whilst they wait for the next big thing - Apple doesn’t yet have that fallback option, and it’s telling in its churn numbers.

Freely launch

The UK’s biggest broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have developed a platform to deliver live TV over broadband. This means that the new digital service will end the need for aerial/satellite access to these services, allowing them to compete against large streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime, and Disney+, but perhaps more importantly against the increasing number of stand-alone FAST platforms like Pluto TV and Samsung TV+.

FAST services are seeing rapid growth across Britain with 16% of households already accessing these types of services on a regular basis. The launch of Freely will allow the more traditional broadcasters to compete on an even playing field, when competing for advertiser spend.

"FAST services are igniting a revolution across the UK, where 16% of households are already hooked on these emerging platforms. The debut of Freely promises a level playing field, empowering traditional broadcasters to vie for their share of advertising revenue. While the streaming Giants venture into uncharted territories experimenting with ad-tier and subscription models, a fresh contender has entered the arena, poised to transform the UK streaming landscape and challenge the dominance of the US-based services.", said Dominic Sunnebo, Global Consumer Insight Director at Worldpanel Division, Kantar.

Friends and family key for new content discovery, but critics still hold serious influence

Over half of Brits say that recommendations from friends and family are their most important source of inspiration when looking for new content to watch, but reviews from critics were cited by 23%, marginally higher than YouTube at 21%. Whilst TikTok can hold serious sway in the music industry, just 7% of Brits say it helps them decide what shows to watch.

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