Thousands cancel Netflix or Prime Video as UK cost of living soars

The UK streaming boom is officially over after the number of homes with services such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ fell in the first quarter, as the cost of living crisis forced hundreds of thousands of streaming fans to slim down their subscriptions to just a few favourites.

Almost 800,000 UK households cancelled their subscriptions to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video between April and June, as the cost of living crisis forces streaming fans to cut back on the number of services they pay for to just a few favourites.

The number of homes with access to at least one subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service fell from 19.57m in the first quarter to 19.19m at the end of the second, a net decrease of 382,000, according to the latest survey by the Broadcast Audience Research Board (Barb).

The UK survey figures follow two quarterly reports of subscriber losses from Netflix – which has had tens of billions wiped off its market value after losing 1.5 million customers so far this year – the first drop in sign-ups in a decade for the UK’s most popular paid-for streaming service.

Between April and June 206,000 households dropped their subscription to Netflix, which has put its subscription price up twice in the past two years , taking the streamer’s UK customer base down from 17.29m to 17.08m.

Netflix- which spends $17bn (£14bn) making and licensing shows annually, including more than $1bn in the UK, it’s biggest market for productions outside the US – is home to hit shows including Stranger Things and movies such as the Ryan Gosling blockbuster The Gray Man.

Amazon’s Prime Video, which is bringing in its own price rise for British customers from September, reported the steepest decrease among the most popular SVOD services in the UK.

The number of UK homes with access to Prime Video, which is accessible as part of Amazon’s Prime subscription service, fell by 589,000 quarter-on-quarter from 13.35m to 12.76m.

Sky’s Now TV dropped from 43,000 homes, taking its subscriber base to 2.07m households at the end of the second quarter.

“The numbers we report today show SVOD services aren’t immune as households work hard to make ends meet,” said Justin Sampson, the chief executive of Barb.

“We don’t ask households why they choose to add or drop subscriptions, although the sharp increase in energy prices in March/April must have been a catalyst for people to review all their monthly outgoings.”

However, it was not all doom and gloom for the UK streaming sector. Disney+, which continues to show growth globally, added 91,000 homes in the second quarter to take its customer base in the country to 6.62m homes.

And Apple TV+, which stunned its much deeper-pocketed and more popular rivals by becoming the first streaming service to win a best picture Oscar for Coda earlier this year, added 43,000 homes to take its UK subscriber base to 1.61m.

In April, research from Kantar Worldpanel showed that the number of UK homes that had at least one paid-for streaming service had fallen by 215,000 in the first quarter, marking the end of a decade of almost uninterrupted growth.

Barb said it recorded a small net drop of 100,000 households with access to subscription streaming services in the third quarter last year, and has only ever recorded one further drop in quarterly numbers since it started its quarterly Establishment Survey in 2014.

“Our latest data confirm other sources which have reported declining subscription levels for SVOD services during the first half of 2022,” said Sampson.