Can Amazon Prime, Netflix and the streamers survive the UK’s recession fears?

On demand video consumers are planning to unsubscribe from their streaming service favourites as they rein in spending.

The number of British households signed up to streaming platforms has slumped so far this year, as more cash-strapped viewers trim their subscriptions to cut costs.

The number of homes subscribed to at least one video streaming platform fell to 16.1 million between January and March this year, down from 16.91 million during the same period last year, according to data from market research firm Kantar, which analysed data from platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.

Seven per cent of homes cancelled at least one subscription in a “post Christmas cull,” meanwhile only four per cent took out a new subscription. 

The total number of lost subscriptions hit 167,000. 

“It’s often the case that consumers take out Prime Membership with Amazon in Q4 for the fast and free delivery service and at the same time utilise the Prime Video service for entertainment over the Christmas holidays, before cutting back the next quarter,” said Dominic Sunnebo, Global Insight Director at Kantar.

But Amazon — which accounted for over 40 percent of any new subscribers — suffered only a one percentage point drop in subscriptions. 

Netflix saw a drop in subscriber numbers despite launching a cheaper service, according to Kantar.

The streaming giant took steps last year to boost subscribers and bat away competition, including a new ad-supported price tier. But any new subscriptions under a cheaper tier were offset by more people cancelling their subscription to cut costs, according to Kantar. 

Netflix is also more expensive than other streaming platforms, with a premium subscription costing £15.99 per month in the UK. An Amazon Prime membership fee costs £8.99 per month in the UK, while Paramount+ costs £6.99 per month.

“When people have two of three streaming platforms, it’s going to be the more expensive one that goes. These streaming companies have to do more to stay sticky,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Earlier on Wednesday, Neflix said it added 1.75 million subscribers globally in the most recent quarter — down from the 7.66 million added in the last quarter and short of analyst forecasts of 2 million — and reported a rise in membership to 232.5 million.

Streaming platforms are coming under increased pressure globally to hold onto subscribers as cash conscious consumers reduce the number of services they are subscribed to.

New players are still entering the market. In the US, Warner Bros. recently announced that it would introduce a new streaming service, Max, which will launch in May.

“With another competitor entering the market, its putting streaming players under more pressure to come up with bit hits to keep eyes on screen and stop the drift away to rivals, which is an expensive business,” said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown.

She added: “At the same time the cost-of-living crisis shows little sign of abating with inflation staying stubborn and fresh rate rises expected, so households will be under even more pressure to trim expenditure wherever they can.”

In Britain, ITVX, the UK broadcaster’s streaming platform, clinched five per cent of new subscriptions after rebranding from ITV Hub last year. Disney+ got 9.2 per cent of new subscribers, Netflix took 8.9 per cent, while AppleTV+ got 8.3 per cent, according to Kantar.

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