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UK: Netflix soaring while Amazon (Lovefilm) suffers

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Netflix have shown strong growth in membership over the past 6 months, with an increase from 10% to 14% of UK online users now with a subscription. This is in contrast to the newly rebranded Amazon Prime Instant Video, previously Lovefilm Instant, which has dropped from 8% to 6% over the same period. Loyalty to the Netflix scheme is also on the rise, with the proportion of subscribers committing to only a free trial reducing from 39% to 25% of total subscribers. These new figures are from media research experts Decipher from their bi-annual media consumption tracker called MediaBug. 

The current success of Netflix can be attributed in part to their presence on Virgin TiVo. Mediabug’s TV VOD ‘Share of Usage’ metric counts Virgin Media’s own On Demand content at 10% share of total UK TV VOD usage. However Netflix on TiVo has now itself garnered a 5% share. Netflix are adopting this strategy all over the world and you can read what a positive impact this partnership is having with cable operator Waoo! and why Com Hem believe such intregrations work well for both parties. 

The new figures keep Netflix the biggest online subscription VOD service in the UK, however more recent entrants are also making their presence felt. Sky’s Now TV service has grown steadily to claim 3% of online consumers, whilst new service Wuaki has arrived on the radar with just under 1%. And with a flurry of new devices also arriving on the scene such as Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku, there are no shortage of options for consuming content from a variety of vendors for Pay and Free To Air homes alike.

Specific findings from MediaBug Wave 4 include :

  • Sky On Demand has the largest share of usage of all TV Video On Demand services: It is no secret that Sky has been rapidly expanding its base of broadband connected set top boxes. Combine that with a large expansion of their video on demand library and they have the biggest share of usage, with 24% of the TV VOD market; and that is excluding any usage of the PSB content that is also on there. BBC iPlayer follows, with a 16% share from its cross-platform range of services and apps, which include Sky On Demand.
  • Tablets have now overtaken smartphones in video consumption: Tablet ownership has been growing steadily for a number of years. As of Wave 4, they have surpassed smartphones in the number of consumers who use them to watch video regularly. Smartphones, in the meantime, have flatlined. There is no indication that tablets are slowing down, having also past the 50% mark in general ownership.
  • Both Sky and Google launch new OTT devices: Two new devices to arrive recently have been the Now TV box and the Google Chromecast dongle. Edging into a crowded device landscape, they both offer new ways to get VOD content to the TV screen. 2% of the online population now own a Now TV box,  and Chromecast owners are expected to be more than 100K.
  • Older generations still not engaging with new technology: Despite the flurry of new innovations and behaviour, much of the activity is still confined to the 16-34’s. For older age groups, VOD and EST behaviour still drops off dramatically.

Director of Decipher Media Research Dr. Hamish McPharlin said: ‘These findings really show that the battle for dominance in the Video On Demand space has reached fever pitch. Whilst Netflix is ahead in the online arena, and Sky leads on the TV, the volume of new entrants end up pulling audiences in all directions. The intensity will have to abate at some stage, and in the end, it is the vendors that can provide the best content and the most elegant integration with existing devices and services that will prevail’.

Now in its third year, the bi-annual tracker is based on an online consumer survey of 3000 UK consumers, and reports on how new technology is impacting media consumption. A free download of highlights from the latest report is available here

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