Six in ten UK households use streaming services

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019
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Households to spend £600 million extra per year on streaming services as Apple TV+, Britbox and Disney+ take on Netflix and Amazon Prime

  • Six in ten households[1] currently use streaming services, paying £12.50 a month on average[2], with two thirds having a Netflix subscription[3]
  • Disney+ will soon join Apple TV+ and BritBox in the battle against Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV in the UK
  • Households to pay an extra £600 million a year — an additional £3 a month[4] — for streaming channels, with Disney+ most likely to win subscribers[5]
  • Superhero series Loki on Disney+ is the most anticipated show on the new channels, with Star Wars drama The Mandalorian second[6]
  • Three quarters of viewers think the explosion in the number of streaming services will mean watching their favourite shows will get more expensive[7], and one fifth fear they will miss out on the best content[8]
  • offers a guide to help fans decide which services to use and empower them to not be afraid of switching between services.

Households are ready to pay an extra £600 million a year for streaming TV subscriptions as Apple TV+ and Disney+ take on Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV in the battle for UK viewers[4], according to new research from, the price comparison and switching service.

Six in ten households (61%) currently watch streaming services, rising to more than three quarters (77%) of 18- to 34-year-olds[1]. But it isn’t just the younger generations who are streaming, with more than four in ten (41%) over-55s also signed up to at least one provider[1].

One fifth (21%) of viewers only use free services, sticking to apps like BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub, but those who pay for subscriptions fork out £12.50 a month on average[2]. One in ten (9%) pay £31 or more a month[2] for multiple subscriptions

Consumers say they will budget £15.50 a month, an increase of £3 a month, for streaming subscriptions once the new services have been launched. And the extra content looks like it will convince more viewers to pay for subscriptions, with only 4% planning to stick to free channels in the future — down from 21% who currently do so[4].

When it comes to trying to keep costs down, consumers have a number of tricks up their sleeves to avoid paying for multiple subscriptions. One in five viewers (22%) said they would sign up for a free trial, binge-watch popular shows and then cancel before paying for a subscription, while a similar number (22%) said they would borrow a friend’s login details to catch up on exclusive films and programmes[9].

Netflix is currently the most watched service, used by two thirds (67%) of streaming fans, with the BBC iPlayer in second place with 58%, and 44% of viewers enjoying Amazon Prime[3].

Viewers use streaming services more than five times a week on average[10], typically watching 7.8 hours of TV and films a week[11], while one in 20 (6%) pay for a streaming subscription they never use.

Despite Apple TV+ and BritBox launching earlier this month, and with Disney+ set to follow in March 2020, more than half of consumers (51%) expect that market-leader Netflix will continue to have the best content[12].

Of the new entrants to the market, Disney+ was most popular, with one in ten (9%) viewers set to pay for a subscription, while Apple TV+ was backed by 6% and BritBox was favoured by 5% of streaming TV users[5].

The growth of the number of new subscription services has lead to three-quarters (74%) of consumers fearing that watching their favourite shows is about to get a lot more expensive[7]. And a fifth (19%) believe they are likely to miss out on their favourite shows in the future as a result[8].

While Apple TV+ have been pushing their exclusive shows, one third (36%) of streaming users haven’t heard of any of the new programmes , and a similar number (35%) are not excited about them[6].

Superhero series Loki was the series viewers were most excited about, with Star Wars show The Mandalorian second, and Marvel Comics programme Hawkeye coming third[6]. All three will be exclusive to the Disney+ service. The most eagerly awaited Apple TV+ show was The Morning Show[6]. is helping consumers decide which services to subscribe to with its exclusive web-based tool. The guide lets TV fans select which programmes they are most keen to watch, then recommends which services to subscribe to for the greatest number of shows for the best value.

Dani Warner, streaming expert at, comments: “Some telly addicts might feel like a kid in a sweet shop at the thought of all the streaming services that will soon be available to them.

“But the increase in competition created by the Streaming Wars may have a downside for consumers, who could find their favourite shows are scattered across countless subscriptions that, once combined, may cost far more than people are willing to pay.

“In a few years, we may look back fondly on a time when we could watch Friends, The Avengers films, The Office and much more with just one Netflix subscription fee.

“Binge watchers need to get savvy and no longer just sign up to a service for life, but instead embrace streaming switching: sign up to a service and then, once you have watched the shows you want to see, end your subscription until you need it again.

“If you are going to sign up for a free trial, put a note in your calendar for when it runs out, otherwise you could forget to cancel and find yourself paying a monthly subscription for a service you never watch, like that gym membership you can’t bring yourself to cancel.

“For those unsure which services they need, hop onto uSwitch and click the shows you want to watch. It will then tell you the services you need to sign up to.“


Opinium surveyed a sample of 2,005 UK adults from the 18th to 22nd October 2019. Results have been weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria.

  1. Respondents were asked ‘Do you watch television and/or films using a streaming service?’ 1227 people said ‘Yes’. 1227 out of 2005 = 61%. The Office for National Statistics reports there are 52,403,344 people aged over 18 in the UK. 61% of 52.4 million = 32 million adults who use streaming services.
  2. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘How much do you currently spend on streaming services per month? Do not include any individual film rentals in this total, only subscription costs.’ 21% of the 1227 respondents who use streaming services said they only used free services. The average amount for those who used paid-for services was £12.50 a month.
  3. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘Which streaming services do you currently use?’ 67% selected Netflix, 58% selected iPlayer, 44% selected Amazon Prime.
  4. Respondents who plan to use streaming services in the future were asked ‘How much will you budget a month to spend on streaming services once all of the upcoming streaming services have launched?’ 4% said they would only use free services. The average amount for those who planned to have at least one subscription was £15.50.
  5. Respondents who use streaming services were asked ‘Which services do you plan to have subscriptions for once all new channels have launched? Please select all that you plan to have subscriptions for.’ 9% planned to have a subscription to Disney+, 6% to have Apple TV+, and 5% to BritBox. 30% said they didn’t plan to have any subscriptions.
  6. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘Which of the following programmes exclusive to new streaming services are you most excited about?’ 4% said ‘Loki’, 3% said ‘The Mandalorian’, 3% said ‘Hawkeye’, 2% said ‘The Morning Show’. 35% said they weren’t excited for any of these shows. 36% said they hadn’t heard anything about any of these shows.
  7. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘Do you think the explosion of streaming services will result in more expense for viewers?’ 74% said they thought it would result in more expense.
  8. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘Many streaming services are losing popular content as content producers launch their own ‘channels’. Which of the following statements do you agree with in relation to this? Please select all that apply’. 19% selected ‘I’m worried that I might not be able to watch my favourite shows’.
  9. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘How will you get access to programmes and shows that you’d like to watch, on channels you don’t want to sign up for?’ 22% of all respondents replied ‘Sign up for a free trial and binge-watch popular shows’.
  10. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘How often do you use the streaming services you pay for?’ 6% replied ‘Never’. The average figure for others was 5.3 times a week.
  11. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘How many hours of streaming TV and films do you watch every week, on average?’ The average figure was 7.8 hours.
  12. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘A number of new streaming services will be launching in the coming months. Which one of the following do you think will offer the best content?’ 51% replied Netflix, 18% replied Amazon Prime. 8% said Disney+, 5% said Apple TV+, and 5% said BritBox. 51% + 18% = 69% who thought that Netflix and Amazon Prime would be the best.
  13. Respondents who used streaming services were asked ‘Do you think the explosion of streaming services will result in the following?’ 60% selected ‘more choice for viewers’. 61% selected ‘more confusion for viewers’.