As multiple streaming services prepare for an intensifying battle over European subscribers, British-made content continues to surge.
Streaming households in the UK subscribed on average to 1.4 services, a figure that has been consistently rising since 2013 as consumers cut the cord and opt for a mosaic of online services.
Non-UK streaming companies spent £970 million producing shows and films in the UK last year, a 40% increase from 2017. New tax relief schemes for UK-made film and series content ratified in 2016, solidified Britain as the premier hub for filmed entertainment.
Netflix announced it would boost UK spending by another £400 million over the next year to produce an increasing number of series content. Since its recent production surge, Netflix has made about 50 television shows and films in the UK. Netflix’s spending in the UK is second only to that of the US in size.
Of the $15 billion Netflix plans to spend on content over the next 12-months, $8 billion will be spent on content production and licensing outside the US.
Netflix is slated to produce or co-produce 225 television shows and films in just Europe this year, at a cost exceeding $1.7 billion. This massive production output is a 57% increase from 2018.
This content bonanza and bidding wars between buyers are driving up prices for shows. Netflix estimates that UK production costs have soared 30% in the last year.
Netflix Takes Over
Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Sky’s Now TV account for 97% of streaming subscriptions in the UK.
Netflix surpassed Sky in the UK in terms of subscribers for the first time in 2019. The victory makes Netflix the most widely subscribed to media platform in the UK.
Sky has been the king of the PayTV market in the UK for over three decades. Its pay satellite subscriptions had hovered around 10 million since 2012 when Netflix first launched in the UK. However, the rate of fleeing subscribers has started to accelerate over the last few years. Sky lost around 60,000 pay satellite subscribers in 2018.
In March 2019, the BBC and ITV announced a partnership to launch Britbox in the UK following its success in North America, where it has gained 700,000 subscribers since launching in 2017. However, the challenge will be integrating BritBox with their other online offerings, ITV Hub+ and the BBC iPlayer.
Europe’s Last Stand: Never known for adapting to changing markets, European companies are now forced to forge alliances in hopes of staying relevant after the well-timed onslaught of Netflix in Europe.
Disney+ is set to launch in the UK in early 2020, following its US launch on 12 November 2019. It’s not clear what will become of their existing UK subscription service, DisneyLife, which is priced at £4.99 and offers access to over 450 Disney films.
However, it was revealed that Disney+ would be similarly priced to DisneyLife, at just $6.99 a month in the US when it launches in November, which is likely to be replicated at £6.99 in the UK. The service is set to launch in every major market within eighteen months from its US debut.
READ MORE: Netflix expanded its global production footprint with a ten-year lease at the U.K’s Shepperton Studios. Disney, which launches its Disney+ streaming platform in November, has also leased prized production space in a deal with Pinewood Studios.
Amazon is secretive about its Prime membership numbers; estimates place the total number of UK subscribers around 2.2 million. Prime subscribers get automatic access to Prime Video, Music, and Reading. Despite the add-on status of Amazon Prime Video, in the UK, Germany, Sweden, and Austria, video-only memberships are available at £7.99 a month.
Independent producers in the UK reaped record revenues in 2018. According to industry researcher PACT, producers made £3 billion last year, which is a 10% increase from the prior year.
In a statement, Netflix said the UK sector would be a big beneficiary of a “whole new world” of streaming competition when rivals such as Apple and Disney launch their standalone platforms.
Public service broadcasters, US cable networks, and streaming companies are driving the production boom in the UK, which shows no signs of slowing.