Households cancel streaming services to cut costs, report says

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The rising cost of living in Britain has led to households cancelling their streaming subscriptions, new research suggests.

A total of 1.51 million services were canned in the first three months of 2022, market research firm Kantar said.

It said more than half a million cancellations were attributed to "money saving", with households budgeting for higher prices and energy bills instead.

About 58% of Britain's homes now have at least one paid streaming service.

The height of coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns saw surges in subscriptions for platforms such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

But researchers said the proportion of consumers planning to cancel subscriptions stating the primary reason as "wanting to save money" had risen to its highest ever level at 38%, up from 29% in final three months of 2021.

Kantar said households were "starting to seriously prioritise where and how their disposable income is spent".

Dominic Sunnebo, global insight director at Kantar's Worldpanel Division, added that the latest research would be "sobering" for the industry.

"The evidence from these findings suggests that British households are now proactively looking for ways to save," he said.

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Researchers said Amazon Prime's thriller series Reacher was the most-watched title in the first three months of 2022, followed by Ozark and Inventing Anna on Netflix.

They said that although "churn" rates increased almost across all streaming platforms, there was a "clear difference" in the number of cancellations seen outside of Netflix and Amazon.

"Netflix and Amazon can be seen to be hygiene subscriptions for Brits; the last to go when households are forced to prioritise spend," Kantar said.

"Disney, Now TV, Discovery+ and BritBox all saw significant jumps in churn rates quarter-on-quarter."

Besides mounting cancellations, the early months of 2022 saw the lowest ever rate of new subscribers, Kantar said.

In January, Netflix said it added 18.2 million members last year - roughly half the number who subscribed in 2020.

Investors had hoped that pace would start to pick up again, which sent the company's share price down almost 20% at the time.

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The company admitted that new competition from the likes of Disney, Apple, Amazon and HBO was starting to have an impact.

Kantar said advertising was "an obvious route for driving revenue growth, but one Netflix has historically strictly shied away from".

"However, Netflix chief financial officer Spencer Neumann added fuel to the fire by saying in March 'it's not like we have religion against advertising'," its Entertainment on Demand study said.

"Data across Great Britain shows Netflix subscribers' attitudes to advertising are softening, with 44% now stating they don't mind seeing on streaming services if it makes them cheaper, a significant rise from 38% at the same point in 2021."