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Ofcom: streaming services overtake pay TV subs

The number of subscriptions to streaming services have overtaken traditional pay TV subscriptions for the first time.

The finding is part of Ofcom's latest Media Nations report, published today.  Its research found that UK subscriptions to the three most popular online streaming services – Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky’s Now TV – reached 15.4 million in Q1 2018, overtaking the number of traditional pay-TV subscriptions offered by the likes of Sky, BT and Virgin, at 15.1 million.

Ofcom researchers also found that spending on UK public service television, covering the main five channels, has fallen to a 20 year low. Combined, they spent £2.5bn last year on original, UK-made programmes - £1bn (28%) less than the 2004 peak of £3.4bn.

At the same time, people are spending less time watching television: average daily viewing on the television set fell by nine minutes in 2017 – and is down 38 minutes since 2012.

The report highlights a shift within the UK television industry, driven by the rise of the major global internet companies and the changing habits and preferences of UK audiences.

Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: 
“Today’s research finds that what we watch and how we watch it are changing rapidly, which has profound implications for UK television. We have seen a decline in revenues for pay TV, a fall in spending on new programmes by our public service broadcasters, and the growth of global video streaming giants. These challenges cannot be underestimated. But UK broadcasters have a history of adapting to change. By making the best British programmes and working together to reach people who are turning away from TV, our broadcasters can compete in the digital age.”