UK audiences watch BBC three times more than Netflix
James R | On 06, Feb 2022
UK viewers spend three times more time watching BBC than Netflix in 2021, according to a new report from Enders Analysis (via Deadline).
Netflix – A decade in the UK analyses the 10 years that the streamer has been active in the UK, after it first launched on this side of the pond in January 2012. The landscape has changed dramatically since then, with binge-watching becoming the norm and broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4 significantly investing in their on-demand platforms to compete for viewers’ attention – while also jointly launched the subscription service BritBox UK.
According to Enders, 16.7 million UK households now subscribe to Netflix. The BBC, meanwhile, is facing growing pressure from the government not only in terms of funding – the government has frozen the TV Licence fee that funds the public service broadcaster, which effectively amounts a pay cut in the face of rising production costs – but also in terms of phasing out the TV Licence altogether, leading some to suggest that the BBC could work as a subscription model similar to Netflix. However, the TV Licence’s nature means that the Beeb can fund programming in areas such as education, the arts and news while remaining independent and free from having to tailor its commissioning and programming to suit commercial needs.
Either way, the Beeb is certainly under some pressure to retain and attract eyeballs. One key demographic to linear broadcast TV’s ongoing popularity is older viewers, and there is gradually growing competition there. Between 2019 and 2021, which included roughly nine months of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the amount of Netflix watched per day by over-65s doubled from less than five minutes to 10, while 55-64 year olds also increased their viewing to 15 minutes a day.
Youth viewing climbe in 2020 but declined in 2021, with all age brackets under the age of 55 watching less Netflix, according to Enders – something that could be impacted by the recent launch of the family-oriented Disney+ in the UK.
The landscape is complicated by the existing licensing deals already in place, with programmes previously aired by ITV, BBC and Channel 4 licensed out to Netflix. In the past six months, for example, BBC One’s The Salisbury Poisonings has appeared in Netflix’s 10 most-watched list. Netflix and the BBC have also co-produced dramas such as The Serpent and Dracula, with the streaming holding the initial rights to the programmes internationally. Now, though, the trend of co-productions is diminishing, with broadcasters and Netflix both keen to strengthen their own positions with exclusives.
Nonetheless, despite the growth of Netflix, the BBC’s appeal is evident: Netflix made up 7 per cent of total UK viewing in 2021, compared to 22 per cent for the BBC. Channel 4 also made up 7 per cent, behind ITV (16 per cent) and YouTube (14 per cent).