Amazon Prime Video was the fastest growing subscription VOD service in the UK last year, new research from Barb reveals.
The ratings giant’s latest annual Viewing Report analyses viewing habits in the UK, from what people are watching and what devices they’re watching on to which subscription service they subscribe to. Barb’s data is Britain’s only fully-audited, joint industry measure of online TV viewing on PCs, tablets and smartphones, with tracking code captured on platforms such as All 4, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, My5 Sky Go and UK TV Play. It doesn’t have such precise tracking for subscription services, which are notoriously secretive about their data, but it has been conducting a steady survey of the country since 2014 to monitor SVOD take-up.
The SVOD market is enjoying a sustained period of growth in the UK, according to its research, with the number of households that subscribe to at least one SVOD service surpassing 10 million in Q4 2017, a 23% increase on Q4 2016. When you take into account homes that have more than one service, there are at least 14 million subscriptions to SVOD services in the UK – in addition to any pay-TV packages that households have signed up to. (There is often overlap for those who choose to pay for TV and also subscribe to VOD services to get access to everything they want.)
While the increasingly mainstream presence of streaming in modern living rooms comes as no surprise – SVOD services in 36 per cent of UK households and continuing to grow – Barb’s data does highlight the striking momentum being built up by Amazon. The online retailer has struggled to gain the kind of brand awareness Netflix has for online video, primarily because its brand is already so associated with shopping.
But Amazon has seriously stepped up its investment in high-profile content, such as The Grand Tour, and has also snapped up the rights to multiple tennis and NFL events, as it tries to differentiate itself from the notably sports-free Netflix.
2017 saw that investment pay off, with the number of subscribers growing 41 per cent to reach a base of 4.3 million households. That was closely followed by NOW TV, which grew 40 per cent to base of 1.5 million households. Netflix, on the other hand, grew by the slowest amount of the three subscription rivals, at a rate of just 25 per cent. With Netflix boasting the biggest starting point, though, it still added the most subscribers last year, with 1.6 million more taking its total to 8.2 million households in Q4 2017.
Looking at SVOD access by age group, 55 per cent of all children in the UK have access to one of the SVOD services. For young adults aged 16-24, 62 per cent have access to one of the SVOD services, while the figure is 56 per cent and 52 per cent for 25-34s and 35-44s respectively. And that generational trend is slowly rippling out: Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey indicates that the behaviour of young people is replicated by all ages five to eight years later, so SVOD access by older groups is likely to increase over this time too.
With a growing target audience, and investment in such tentpole projects as a new series based on The Lord of the Rings, Amazon will be confident about continuing to grow in the years to come. Indeed, the shopping giant has recently diversified its Prime membership packages, so those unwilling to stump up £79 for an annual Prime membership can also subscribe to the full service for £7.99 a month – and, for those who just want the streaming perks, the £5.99 Amazon Prime Video option is still available. For those who are full Amazon Prime members, meanwhile, The Lord of the Rings programme continues an ongoing strategy to invest in content that can tie into its well-established book retail arm, with detective drama Bosch proving one of Prime Video’s most popular shows to date.