It comes as no surprise that figures recently released in the UK show a surge in streaming during the coronavirus lockdown. Incredibly, UK adults passed as much as 40% of their time watching screens during lockdown and the amount of time spent using paid streaming services doubled during April. The annual study carried out by media watchdog Ofcom found that at the height of the lockdown, adults spent an average of six hours and 25 minutes watching television.
More than 12 million people subscribed to a service, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+, which they had never used before and a quarter of those people had previously never paid for any service. Expectedly, with the relaxation of lockdown, there has been a slowdown in the number of new subscribers and Netflix has warned that it will slow further. However, research from GlobalData suggests that the number of streaming accounts globally will surpass traditional pay-television subscriptions by the end of this year.
This is largely due to the huge increase in the amount of streaming services available. For a long time, the market was dominated by just a few companies, such as those mentioned above. However, there are now many media companies, such as Comcast, setting up their own subscription services.
As with any increase in consumer choice, there is bound to be greater confusion. This has led to an even larger use of comparison sites, such as StreamingWars, which aim to bring readers comprehensive reviews of the various services on offer. There are numerous differences between streaming services that customers need to consider, for example, they may or may not have video on demand (VOD) libraries, live channel streaming, multi-device support, ultra-high-definition streams, etc. StreamingWars helps customers choose the right service for them based upon these criteria and more.
While Netflix may have issued a very public warning about a slowdown in subscriptions, it seems as if people’s viewing habits have not changed very much since lockdown restrictions were eased. At the end of June, the amount of time viewers spent watching television each day dropped by less than an hour. Furthermore, in an additional boost to the streaming industry, a study published in March by Grabyo found that 74% of customers plan to cancel their traditional pay-TV subscriptions within five years in favor of subscription video on demand services.
There is a multitude of reasons for this, most of which are obvious. Viewers enjoy being able to choose when they watch specific programs and the ability to binge-watch entire seasons without having to wait for weekly episodes. In addition, streaming services are continually falling in price and this trend is likely to continue as more arrive on the market.
Overall, it seems that while the coronavirus pandemic may have given an immediate boost to the streaming industry, even without the imposition of a lockdown, the industry looks set to thrive over the coming years. This is excellent news for consumers, as it can only result in larger choices and greater affordability and viewing pleasure.