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Amazon wins 49% of new TV streaming customers in run-up to Christmas

Mark Sweney Media business correspondent
·3-min read

Amazon proved more popular than Netflix in the run-up to Christmas as live Premier League and international rugby helped it attract half of all new UK subscribers to streaming services in the final quarter last year.

There were almost 1.3m new subscriptions to services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, which includes access to Prime Video as well as perks such as free delivery on purchases, as bored Britain turned to streaming in record numbers to stay entertained during the pandemic.

In the final quarter Amazon attracted 49%, or more than 635,000, of all new subscribers to paid streaming services – which also include Sky’s Now TV, and BritBox from ITV and the BBC – according to the latest research from the data firm Kantar. That total was almost three times the number of new subscribers to its nearest rival, Netflix, which took 17%. Its autumn crowd-pullers included The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit in the Christmas quarter.

Amazon’s strategy of offering live sport – a genre Netflix has ruled out – alongside general entertainment proved a winner as the retail giant looked to increase subscriptions to Amazon Prime in the key festive retail season. Amazon broadcasted 20 live Premier League games, the second of three seasons under its current deal, as well as the Autumn Nations Cup rugby competition involving the home nations and teams from Fiji, France, Italy and Georgia. The global hit TV series The Boys and the Borat film sequel also fuelled a surge in subscribers.

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“In the fourth quarter 1.3 million British households took out a new video streaming subscription, and Amazon’s Prime Video captured almost half of these,” said Dominic Sunnebo, senior vice-president at Kantar’s Worldpanel operation. “Amazon’s increasing focus on live sports continues to pay big dividends.”

The research also revealed the impact of the arrival last March of Disney+, which launched under the best possible conditions as the UK went into lockdown. It attracted more than 50% of total new UK subscribers in the first quarter, powered by Star Wars TV series spinoff The Mandalorian and films such as Frozen 2. However, growth slowed considerably as the pandemic wore on, with the streaming service attracting 15% of new subscribers in the final quarter.

Overall, for the full year, Disney+ drew the largest proportion of new UK subscribers, 38% of the total, with Amazon’s Prime Video taking a quarter and Netflix 19%.

Kantar’s research also found the fourth quarter proved to be the best of the year by some distance for new subscribers to BritBox, which took a 5.2% share of total new sign-ups, which was attributed to the return of satire Spitting Image.

Most popular shows on UK subscription streaming services in the fourth quarter 2020

1 The Crown – Netflix
2 The Queen’s Gambit – Netflix
3 The Mandalorian – Netflix
4 The Boys – Amazon Prime Video
5 The Undoing – Sky’s Now TV

Source: Kantar

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