1 in 3 UK SVOD users watch original shows
James R | On 07, Aug 2015
Only 1 in 3 SVOD users in the UK watch original shows, according to research by Ofcom.
Netflix has increasingly placed emphasis on its original content in the past year, with series such as Daredevil and Sense8 paving the way for a string of Marvel shows and feature-length film productions. But Ofcom’s research reveals that just 31 per cent of UK users say they use an online TV service to watch original content.
75 per cent, on the other hand, say they use the service to watch films, while almost half say they watch US shows. The findings suggest that UK SVOD members are more interested in back catalogues of older shows they may have missed the first time around and foreign TV series than in-house productions.
Netflix, however, appears to be moving away from that as a core focus, instead preferring to spend its money not on acquisitions from other producers – which may only be restricted to certain countries – but on content that can be released globally at the same time.
“We are making great progress shifting to exclusive content and expanding our original content, which differentiates our service, drives enjoyment for existing members and helps motivate consumers to join Netflix,” wrote CEO Reed Hastings in the company’s earnings report for Q2 2015, which announced that Netflix has grown to have over 65 million members worldwide.
Hastings highlighted “strong audience engagement” for Daredevil, noting that documentary series Chef’s Table and DreamWorks Animation series Dragons: Race to the Edge are now its most viewed original shows.
“They are the perfect example of what we strive for in our original programming; an elevated version of popular genres that reach a large audience globally,” said Hastings.
The third season of Orange Is the New Black, meanwhile, which launched on Friday 11th June, prompted a record number of hours streamed by Netflix users in a single day. Similarly, in the first quarter of 2015, House of Cards’ third season enjoyed the show’s “biggest launch yet in terms of viewers”, with members around the world streaming 10 billion hours of original content across the first three months of 2015 – an average of 160 hours per member over the quarter, or just over 2 days per month.
Almost 99 per cent of Netflix members have “engaged with” Netflix original content to date, added Hastings.
Amazon is also stepping up its original programming, signing a £160 million deal last week to sign former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May for a new car series. Amazon spent $1.3 billion on Prime Instant Video in 2014, according to CEO Jeff Bezos, while the retailer has since said that it aims to double that to $2.6 billion this year. Netflix, according to one report from RBC Capital Markets, has $3 billion lined up for content this year. With Ofcom reporting 4.3 million subscribers for Netflix (Q1 2015), ahead of 1.2 million for Amazon Prime and 500,000 for Sky’s NOW, the closeness in budget suggests Amazon is more ambitious in its plans for original content.
The new figures from Ofcom (reported by the Guardian) follow another survey that suggested only one in four Netflix subscribers and just 15 per cent of Amazon Prime subscribers had signed up to the service to watch original programming. Ofcom, though, notes that some respondents to the latest survey may have been unaware which content was original programming, despite being provided with prompts such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.
Are Netflix and Amazon wrong to be focusing on original content as such as central part of their service? Or has Ofcom’s research highlighted a difference between UK and US SVOD audiences? Let us know your thoughts below – and vote in our poll.