Netflix extends lead as back-catalogue content drives UK SVOD growth

netflixNetflix is by far the most popular paid-for video-on-demand service in the UK, and is increasing its lead, while BBC iPlayer is the most used among all VoD services, according to the latest edition of Ofcom’s Communications Market Report.

According to the survey, 23% of UK adults used Netflix on average each week this year, up 10 percentage points since 2014. The next most popular paid-for service, Amazon Prime Instant Video, was used by only 7%, up two percentage points since 2014. Sky’s Now TV is used by 4%, according to the survey, up from 1% in 2014.

In total, 26% of adults view paid on-demand services, up eight points since 2014, with growth being driven primarily by the 16-24 age group. Fifty-seven per cent of this group view paid VoD services, up 24 points over two year.

The Ofcom report cited the BARB Establishment Survey’s figures showing that five million homes had a Netflix subscription at the end of last year, compared with 1.5 million Amazon subscribers and 781,000 Now TV customers.

According to the survey, access to TV and film library content is the main reason for subscribing to SVOD services. Some 31% of Netflix subscribers cited original content made by the provider as a reason to sign up, compared with 19% of Amazon users and 9% of Now TV customers.

Only a minority of SVOD subscribers said they signed up because the service was cheaper than pay TV – 15%, 12% and 22% for Netflix, Amazon and Now TV respectively. Three quarters of SVOD users also had a pay TV subscription in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Breaking Bad was the most popular SVOD title, followed by Orange is the New Black, with Sons of Anarchy, Narcos and The Walking Dead making up the remainder of the top five.

BBC iPlayer remains the most popular VoD service overall, watched by 32% of adults in 2015. Sixteen per cent of UK adults said they had used Netflix in the last 12 months in 2015.

Sixteen to 24 year-olds watched more recorded, on-demand and online content than live TV this year – 59% against 36% in terms of time spent on each. Some 59% of adults used a VoD service in 2015, up 2% year-on-year.

The UK broadcast TV industry grew by 3% in 2015 and was worth £13.6 billion (€16.2 billion) in revenues, up 3% in nominal terms on the previous year. Pay TV subscriptions contributed £6.2 billion in revenues. The BBC spent £2.6 billion on TV in 2015, down 4% year-on-year.

Commenting on the findings, Tom Williams, CEO of TV user experience specialist Ostmodern, said that the rise in subscribers paying for SVOD services should act as “a wake-up call” for the industry. He said there were opportunities for broadcasters to launch new VoD platforms or extend existing services to include back-catalogue content that catered to their specific audience and niche that viewers would pay for.

Haydn Jones, account managing director of technology provider Fujitsu’s media team, said that the finding that Netflix was pulling ahead of Amazon highlighted “how important it is for media companies to provide consumers with content that meets their very specific demands and is personalised to their individual tastes” and said it was “vital that media companies invest in data analytics to give them a complete view of their audiences”.

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