Streaming surpasses Pay TV in UK

UK regulator Ofcom’s new Media Nations recently reported 15.4 million streaming subscribers in Britain at the end of March, edging out traditional pay-TV customers, at 15.1 million, for the first time.

The finding is tipped at a wave that’s likely to come elsewhere.

“The U.K. is now among the first international markets to follow the trend from the U.S.,” said Tony Gunnarsson, principal analyst at London-based Ovum has told Variety. “We’re seeing the same trend across a few other markets, including the Nordics, Australia and New Zealand. Looking ahead, most mature international markets are heading this way.”

But broadcasters in Britain, France and Germany are among those looking to band together to create over-the-top offerings to counter the so-called FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google).

SKY, which has been at the centre of a takeover battle between Comcast and 21st Century FOX, is trying to get in with its own streaming service, NOW TV and is banking on consumers signing up for multiple services. More than 70% of SVOD customers in the UK also take traditional pay TV, and more than half subscribe to more than one streaming service, generally Amazon and Netflix.

You can read more at Variety.


  1. I have noticed Foxtel have been promoting the On Demand streaming option a lot more with ads advising how to connect the iQ to the Internet and with a lot of shows stating you can also stream on demand. Looks like Foxtel maybe headed to be a streaming only service in the future ?

  2. And this trend will continue. A few months ago I subscribed to Netflix and viewed very little Free To Air since. I tend to watch the nightly NEWS and that’s about it. My dad cannot wait for the NBN to arrive at his suburb because he’ll sign up to Netflix A.S.A.P. Commercial networks here in Australia only have themselves to blame. Wall to wall reality nonsense and now their incessant need to repeat, repeat, repeat.

  3. The UK’s FTA TV offerings are inconsistent as far as quality is concerned but then commercial TV also has a lot of regional broadcast areas to cover as well, so streaming would be a natural fit especially during the winter months. Subscription fees are another matter, the days of the set top box are counting down along with monthly contracts, that is why sports is so important for SKY and BT TV in the UK as it is here for Foxtel,

  4. To be honest, I’m a little surprised it hasn’t already happened here, with our relatively low Pay TV penetration rate (~30%, vs the UK’s ~54%) – especially since it’s streaming subscribers (with possible multiple per household) vs Pay TV (more likely 1 per household).

    Though I guess the fact that the big international streaming players brought mediocre offerings, and the rest are basically FTA/Pay TV catch-up services under a thin disguise of 2nd-run / lesser-rated content, has put a damper on local uptake.

    • BT rolled out FFTN, (that will be upgraded to FTTP by 2030), quickly in the UK with much cheaper prices than the NBN. That has helped drived streaming in the UK. The NBN is only at 50% here, and expensive. The US also has crappy broadband outside of the major cities which has capped Netflix’s growth.

      • I know the official narrative (parrotted by both sides of the argument here) is that the UK & everywhere else has “much cheaper prices [or faster speeds, or just generally better all round] than the NBN”. The argument falls apart as soon as you actually compare them though – e.g. BT’s basic 50Mbps fibre plan @ £32 (AU$56.75)/mo intro discount rate or £52.50 (AU$93.20)/mo standard rate, vs Telstra’s $69/mo (standard rate). Doubly so if you consider them as a % of average earnings.

        And they’re comparable plans – BT’s 2nd level up vs Telstra’s bottom level. BT’s basic £32/£45.50 per mo ‘broadband’ plan? Drop that average 50Mbps down to 10mbps. Most people here are already doing better on ADSL or wireless…

        BTW, BT is only guaranteeing 10mbps availability by 2020…

        • Since the NBN declared a moratorium on Rudd & Conroy’s financial restraints and discount ed VCV, and the ACCC started enforcing speeds, congestion where speeds slow on the NBN are slowed has fallen from 6.5 hours a week to 8 minutes a week. Note that Telstra price is after the price for 50Mbs was dropped to the old price 25Mbs price. A basic plan in the UK is usually 40/20 MBs and is a lot cheaper than that if you shop around. Australian ranks 18/23 Developed Nations for Broadband price. Read the S&P report out this week for why.

    • It already happened long ago, if you include piracy sources. That’s something else the report acknowledged. However they were only reporting legitimate sources such as netflix.

      There are 2 things that have slowed the adoption here of streaming:
      – a slow and expensive NBN
      – a reluctance from the public to take up the offline downloads feature available on Netflix or Stan for when they have slow fixed broadband

      Our mobile costs are among some of the lowest per gigabyte costs in the world now, but there is a perception they are very high.

      • Also many people believe (incorrectly) that 8mbps isn’t fast enough for streaming, but actually that will give you a perfect 1080p picture (so long as nobody else is using it)

        On YouTube, the bitrate of 2k streaming is 8mbps and 15mbps for 4k

        Not that Joe Public actually cares that much about the picture quality in my experience. It’s only tech-heads and videophiles that care.

        • Picture quality is everything, And i am neither a Tech-head or videophile ( whatever that is )
          No point buying big screens and watching analogue pictures.

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