London, Britain’s growing appetite for services,

such as Netflix and Amazon Prime has seen the number of subscribers

to streaming services overtake those signed up to pay-TV providers

such as Sky, BT and Virgin Media for the first time.

The total number of subscribers in the United Kingdom (UK) to

the three most popular online streaming services in the UK � Netflix,

Amazon and Sky’s Now TV � hit 15.4 million at the end of the first

quarter this year. At the same time, the number of subscribers to pay-

TV packages reached 15.1 million, according to a report published by

media regulator Ofcom.

The milestone marks a major competitive shift in the TV industry

as the rise of the global internet firms and changing viewing habits,

especially among younger viewers, is putting increasing pressure on

the UK’s traditional pay-TV and free-to-air broadcasters including BBC,

ITV and Channel 4.

The Ofcom report found that the total pay-TV revenues of Sky,

Virgin, BT and TalkTalk fell for the first time in the almost a decade in

2017 to Pound 6.4bn.

By contrast, the dramatic increase in the popularity of the Silicon

Valley streaming services in the UK fuelled a 28% surge to Pound 2.3bn in

what Ofcom terms online audio-visual revenues. Within this,

subscription on-demand revenues � mainly viewers paying for Netflix

and Amazon � leapt by 38% to almost Pound 900m.

Growth has been explosive: in 2012, the year Netflix launched in

the UK, subscription on-demand revenues were just Pound 52m.

While Netflix and Amazon spend more than $10bn (Pound 7.6bn)

annually on content, with a significant proportion on original content

such as Stranger Things, the Ofcom report found that spending by the

UK’s main free-to-air channels on homegrown shows hit a 20-year low:

the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 spent Pound 2.5bn on UK-made

shows last year, a 28% fall on the peak of Pound 3.4bn in 2004.

The report pointed out that the rise of co-productions, often with

companies including Netflix and Amazon, had gone some way to

bridging the fall in spending.

Ofcom highlighted the growing trend among those aged 16 to 34

to skip the traditional pastime of watching scheduled broadcast TV. The

majority of viewing by this group is non-broadcast content, which

includes watching streaming services, catch-up and on-demand TV.

YouTube makes up the highest proportion of non-broadcast viewing in

the age group, the British Guardian newspaper reported.

Source: Oman News Agency