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70% of Brits have pay-TV or VoD subscription

Nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) Britons online now report their household pays a subscription to watch live broadcast or on-demand programming, according to Nielsen’s Global Video-on-Demand Report.

The most popular TV subscription format in the UK is satellite (e.g. Sky), cited by 37 per cent of respondents. Cable (e.g. Virgin and BT) is the next most popular format (24 per cent), narrowly ahead of VoD (or online service) providers (20 per cent) such as Netflix and Amazon. British take-up of VoD providers is below the global average (26 per cent).

Further encouraging news for satellite and cable providers is that British subscribers are only half as likely (15 per cent) as the global average (32 per cent) to be planning “cord cutting” — replacing their satellite/cable contract with an online service.

“The increasing popularity of online-only TV services will continue to put pressure on the likes of Sky and Virgin, but a wholesale replacement of these traditional subscription players is unlikely,” says Nielsen executive vice president of digital for Europe, Terrie Brennan. “For most UK viewers, online VoD and traditional subscription services are complementary, so we’re more likely to see “cord shaving” – consumers choosing slimmer subscription packages from the traditional players, rather than cancelling them outright.”

UK less demanding for VoD

Nielsen’s Global Video-on-Demand Report, which polled more than 30,000 online respondents in 61 countries, reveals only half (51 per cent) of Britons online watch some form of VoD programming (be it long- or short-form content) compared to 65 per cent of respondents globally.

Among British VoD viewers, 35 per cent watch VoD at least once a day, compared to 43 per cent globally.

The type of content viewed in the UK using on-demand services contrasts markedly with that viewed in most other parts of the world. Britons are more likely to watch TV programmes (74 per cent) on-demand than films (64 per cent). Whereas, globally, many more people use VoD to watch films (80 per cent) than TV programmes (50 per cent). The contrast is similar across Europe (77 per cent vs. 39 per cent).

Brennan concludes: “In Britain, the cord-cutting wolf is being kept from the door by a combination of a relatively smaller appetite for on-demand content and traditional pay TV’s superior content library in terms of live sports and the earlier availability of premium TV series and films.”

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