UK households poised to spend additional £600m on streaming TV - uSwitch

Mark Johnson's picture
by Mark Johnson

Households are ready to pay an extra £600 million a year for streaming TV subscriptions as competition in the market heats up, according to a report from uSwitch.

The price comparison and switching service said that as Apple TV+ and Disney+ take on Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV in the battle for UK viewers, many will add to their existing subscriptions.

Streaming growth  

Six in ten households (61%) currently watch streaming services, rising to more than three quarters (77%) of 18- to 34-year-olds. 

But it isn’t just the younger generations who are streaming, with more than four in ten (41%) over-55s also signed up to at least one provider.

One fifth (21%) of viewers only use free services, sticking to apps like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, but those who pay for subscriptions fork out £12.50 a month on average. 

One in ten (9%) pay £31 or more a month for multiple subscriptions

Consumer budgets

Consumers say they will budget £15.50 a month, an increase of £3 a month, for streaming subscriptions once the new services have been launched. 

And the extra content looks like it will convince more viewers to pay for subscriptions, with only 4% planning to stick to free channels in the future — down from 21% who currently do so.

When it comes to trying to keep costs down, consumers have a number of tricks up their sleeves to avoid paying for multiple subscriptions. 

One in five viewers (22%) said they would sign up for a free trial, binge-watch popular shows and then cancel before paying for a subscription, while a similar number (22%) said they would borrow a friend’s login details to catch up on exclusive films and programmes.

Netflix is currently the most watched service, used by two thirds (67%) of streaming fans, with the BBC iPlayer in second place with 58%, and 44% of viewers enjoying Amazon Prime.

Viewers use streaming services more than five times a week on average, typically watching 7.8 hours of TV and films a week, while one in 20 (6%) pay for a streaming subscription they never use.

New players

Despite Apple TV+ and BritBox launching earlier this month, and with Disney+ set to follow in March 2020, more than half of consumers (51%) expect that market-leader Netflix will continue to have the best content. 

Of the new entrants to the market, Disney+ was most popular, with one in ten (9%) viewers set to pay for a subscription, while Apple TV+ was backed by 6% and BritBox was favoured by 5% of streaming TV users.

The growth of the number of new subscription services has lead to three-quarters (74%) of consumers fearing that watching their favourite shows is about to get a lot more expensive. And a fifth (19%) believe they are likely to miss out on their favourite shows in the future as a result. 

While Apple TV+ have been pushing their exclusive shows, one third (36%) of streaming users haven’t heard of any of the new programmes , and a similar number (35%) are not excited about them.

Superhero series Loki was the series viewers were most excited about, with Star Wars show The Mandalorian second, and Marvel Comics programme Hawkeye coming third. All three will be exclusive to the Disney+ service. The most eagerly awaited Apple TV+ show was The Morning Show.

having conducted the research, said it is helping consumers decide which services to subscribe to with its exclusive web-based tool. 

The guide lets TV fans select which programmes they are most keen to watch, then recommends which services to subscribe to for the greatest number of shows for the best value.

Addictive content 

Dani Warner, streaming expert at, said: “Some telly addicts might feel like a kid in a sweet shop at the thought of all the streaming services that will soon be available to them.

“But the increase in competition created by the Streaming Wars may have a downside for consumers, who could find their favourite shows are scattered across countless subscriptions that, once combined, may cost far more than people are willing to pay.

“In a few years, we may look back fondly on a time when we could watch Friends, The Avengers films, The Office and much more with just one Netflix subscription fee.

“Binge watchers need to get savvy and no longer just sign up to a service for life, but instead embrace streaming switching: sign up to a service and then, once you have watched the shows you want to see, end your subscription until you need it again.

“If you are going to sign up for a free trial, put a note in your calendar for when it runs out, otherwise you could forget to cancel and find yourself paying a monthly subscription for a service you never watch, like that gym membership you can’t bring yourself to cancel.

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