Rising SVOD Fees Drive UK Subscriber Churn, Opinium Finds

Dan Meier 14 June, 2022 

Price increases are driving SVOD subscriber churn in the UK, according to research conducted by Opinium and commissioned by VideoWeek.

The nationally representative survey of 2000 UK adults found that 61 percent would unsubscribe from a streaming service if the price increased to the point that it no longer felt like good value. The figure is higher among viewers over 55 (77 percent) yet still significant for the 18-34 (51 percent) and 35-54 (58 percent) demographics.

Those who have already cancelled their Netflix subscriptions cited rising prices (23 percent) and the need to cut back on spending (26 percent) as the cause. The next most stated reason was boredom with the platform’s offering (15 percent) – a similar proportion for those leaving Amazon Prime Video (14 percent) but much lower for Disney+ (7 percent). For Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+, one-third of cancellations came at the end of the trial period.

The study also suggested that a quarter of subscribers would leave their respective services if they introduced adverts, rising to 34 percent for Apple TV+ members. Meanwhile 30 percent of Netflix and Amazon users said they would expect an ad-supported tier to be free or cheaper than the current offering.

Quid Game

In terms of the most popular streaming services, the report reveals that 39 percent of UK adults pay for Netflix, closely followed by Amazon at 37 percent, with Disney+ trailing on 18 percent. Around 38 percent of Netflix and Disney+ subscribers said they signed up due to the appeal and value of their content libraries, while Apple tends to attract people wanting to watch particular shows (32 percent).

Asked what type of content would make them sign up to a streaming service, Netflix and Amazon users favoured crime (43 and 44 percent respectively), new/exclusive movies (44 and 42 percent), and documentaries (42 and 40 percent). These genres also proved popular among Disney+ subscribers, with comedy (39 percent) and entertainment (36 percent) scoring highly as well.

In addition, 37 percent of respondents said they would consider cutting their TV/film subscriptions as the cost of living rises. This was the second-most likely expense to be curtailed after eating out at restaurants (54 percent).

“Raising prices is a risky business in the current climate,” said Chris Carey, Head of Music, Media, and Entertainment at Opinium. “The most likely cause of someone leaving a subscription would be if the price went up enough to no longer feel like good value (61 percent). Subscription services are already at risk from circumstances beyond their control, with 45 percent of paying subscribers saying they would cut back on their subscription if they needed to cut back on expenses. In both instances, 18-34 year olds were less likely than older consumers to change their subscription for financial reasons, but more likely to unsubscribe if there wasn’t a specific show they wanted to watch.”

Expect the inexpensive

These findings from Opinium reflect the nation’s suppressed appetite for SVOD payments amid the cost of living crisis. At the end of streaming-heavy lockdown periods, Netflix made headlines when it lost subscribers – almost a quarter of whom (in the UK) blame rising membership fees. In response the company announced plans to introduce adverts to the platform, along with similar moves by Disney+. And while 24 percent of respondents threaten to unsubscribe if shown ads, streamers will be reassured by the 31 percent who would expect to pay less for an ad-supported tier, which will presumably be true of the AVOD offerings.

Similarly Apple’s strategy is borne out by the results; one-third of Apple TV+ subscribers would be turned off by adverts on the platform, which has no current plans towards advertising and attracts a high proportion of users looking to watch a particular show. Where Netflix and Disney+ draw viewers via vast content libraries, Apple has a low volume of high-profile titles spearheaded by the multi Emmy-winning Ted Lasso.

Meanwhile the popularity of crime, documentaries and exclusive content among Netflix viewers explains the prevalence of True Crime originals on the platform, crowned by the likes of Tiger King and American Murder: The Family Next Door. According to Ampere Analysis, Netflix is expected to release over 398 original titles this year – and since Netflix makes more documentaries than any other genre, 2022 is unlikely to see a shortage of appealing programming.

However, with 37 percent of UK consumers placing streaming services in the firing line, it remains to be seen whether stomach-churning content can reverse subscription-churning woes.

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About the Author:

Reporter at VideoWeek.
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