Amazon Prime and Netflix overtake traditional TV services for first time

19 July 2018

More people in the UK now have a subscription to a TV streaming service than to a traditional pay TV service.

Figures from telecoms regulator Ofcom reveal that in the first quarter of the year, there were 15.4 million subscriptions to the three most popular online streaming services - Amazon Prime, Netflix and NOW TV.  

This is the first time the use of such services has overtaken the number of pay TV subscriptions, which stood at 15.1 million over the same period.  

At the same time, the number of hours spent watching television on a TV set has continued to decline. In 2017, it stood at an average of three hours 22 minutes a day, down nine minutes (4.2%) on 2016, and 38 minutes (15.7%) since 2012.

This coincides with spending by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on new UK-made television programmes, falling to a 20-year low.

This shift in viewing patterns is being boosted by younger audiences, with viewing among 16- to 34-year-olds moving online. This age group, for example, spent just under an hour a day watching content on YouTube.  

Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, comments: “This research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television.

“We have seen a decline in revenues for pay TV, a fall in spending on new programmes by our public service broadcasters, and the growth of global video streaming giants. These challenges cannot be underestimated. But UK broadcasters have a history of adapting to change.”

When it comes to music, Ofcom also found that revenues from streaming services, such as Apple Music and Spotify, have outstripped physical record sales for the first time.

Its research found that almost a quarter (23%) of all adults listen to music via streaming services each week, increasing to over half (51%) of those aged 15 to 24.

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