More people are subscribing to Netflix and Amazon than pay-TV in a historic power shift

NetflixNetflix series ‘The Crown.’
  • For the first time ever in the UK, more people are subscribing to Netflix and Amazon than pay-TV services, like Sky.
  • It’s a historic power shift, which shows that Netflix and Amazon are no longer just challenger brands.
  • Their investment in original shows, like “The Crown,” has been game-changing.

There’s been a historic power shift in the way people are watching television in the UK.

For the first time ever, more people are subscribing to Netflix, Amazon, and other online video services, than pay-TV providers, including Sky.

The UK’s media watchdog Ofcom published the data in its Media Nations report on Wednesday.

Ofcom said there were 15.4 million subscriptions to “over the top” (OTT) services such as Netflix, compared to 15.1 million pay-TV subscriptions for satellite and cable platforms like Sky,which is at the centre of a giant bidding war between Comcast and Fox.

The graphic below shows how Brits fell in love with Netflix, Amazon, and Sky’s online video service Now TV – with many households owning more than one subscription.


And Ofcom’s research shows it is Netflix and Amazon’s investment in original content that is mostly responsible. Nearly 40% of Netflix subscribers turn up “to watch original series,” Ofcom said, based on a survey of 3,324 people.

Netflix boasts British-made shows including “The Crown” and “Black Mirror,” while Amazon has benefited from splashing the cash on content like Jeremy Clarkson’s “The Grand Tour.” In Amazon’s case, extra perks such as free delivery remain the biggest draw for 51% of people who subscribe to its Prime offering.

But pay-TV operators like Sky and Virgin Media need not be too alarmed just yet. Ofcom said 71% of those with a Netflix, Amazon, or Now TV sub are also pay-TV customers. Sport is seen as an important reason for this, with Sky and BT dominating the UK market for Premier League rights, for example.

“Today’s research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television,” said Ofcom CEO Sharon White.

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