Five things we know about Netflix

I’m a telly addict. Of course I am; I work for Thinkbox. I subscribe to Sky (full works), Netflix and Amazon Prime/Film, and my living room is designed around my 50” LED TV. All I need is a reclining lazy boy chair and I’m there.

My viewing experience has never been better, and some recognition for this must go to my Subscription VOD services. I’m a big fan of US drama and some weeks, when in the middle of a good series, I reckon Netflix or Amazon Prime account for over 70% of all my viewing. However, when I’m not in the middle of a series, they account for 0%. Netflix to me is like a channel: when it’s got content at the top of my viewing hierarchy, I’m there; when it hasn’t, I’m not.

SVOD is a hot topic and the two most common questions I’m asked are:

  1. Is Netflix a threat to TV?
  2. Is it the future for all TV viewing?

It would be churlish not to answer:

  1. No, Netflix is TV. It’s high quality, premium content. It’s like the BBC (ad free), but entirely on demand and with a few specific types of content. It makes the overall viewing experience better. I think it’s great for TV.
  2. No. It doesn’t satisfy all viewing need-states, its content is limited, and it’s not universally appealing. It can’t overcome these issues without ramping up subscription costs to an unappealing level and, anyway, UK broadband pipes are a long way off being able to satisfy our demand for TV content entirely through IP.

But, these are my opinions. So to prevent this blog from becoming a pet hate – a set of conclusions drawn from a sample of one – here’s what we know about Netflix, based on quantitative data, which is representative of the population as a whole.

  1. Netflix accounts for less than 2.2% of total video viewing in the UK

    I can’t tell you exactly how much it accounts for because Netflix is very guarded about those figures. But, by combining BARB data, which tells us the volume of non-broadcaster TV viewing time, with OFCOM’s Digital Day study, we can estimate how much SVOD is watched in the UK across all platforms and devices. So Netflix is a chunk of the 2.2% alongside Amazon Prime and other SVOD services.

  2. It accounts for no more than 3.7% of 16-24s’ video viewing

    Unsurprisingly, Netflix is more popular with younger viewers – always the most enthusiastic about new forms of video.

  3. Netflix homes tend to be telly addicts (like me)

    BARB’s wondrous Viewing Report has shown that households that subscribe to Netflix are much more likely to also have Sky or Virgin, subscribe to Movie and Sports packages, own three or more TV sets and have a massive TV in their living room (a screen that’s 50” or bigger). In short, they are telly addicts who want TV in all the ways they can get it. Netflix is not an alternative, it is an addition.

  4. ‘Digital natives’ aren’t huge fans of Netflix

    Strange you might think, but BARB has shown that households that don’t own a TV set (or at least don’t own up to having one) are less likely to subscribe to Netflix. These are the households you would assume consume their video via broadband on tablets and laptops etc. But they must be choosing video services other than Netflix. It makes sense given it is people who are massive fans of TV that are most likely to also have Netflix.

  5. In the 15% of UK homes that have Netflix, SVOD accounts for 16% of their video viewing

    BARB’s Viewing Report showed that 14.1% of UK households subscribed to Netflix at the end of 2014. Based on this and our estimate of SVOD consumption across the population as a whole we can calculate that in Netflix homes, viewing to SVOD services averages about 40 minutes a day. This means it accounts for 16% of their total video consumption (assuming Netflix homes watch the same amount of video as the average UK home).

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