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Disney+ becomes 3rd most popular streaming service

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Staff Writer

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Disney+ is now the third most popular subscription streaming service in the UK, according to new data from Ofcom.

The media regulator’s latest report highlights just how much the home entertainment landscape has changed since the coronavirus lockdown. As people across the UK followed official health advice to stay home during April 2020, they kept themselves informed and entertained by spending six hours and 25 minutes each day on average – or nearly 45 hours a week – watching TV and online video content – a rise of almost a third (31 per cent) on last year.

The biggest factor behind this increase was people spending twice as much time watching subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video – one hour 11 minutes per day on average in April 2020. The trend was even more pronounced among 16-34s, who streamed for an average two hours each day.

Ofcom’s Media Nations 2020 report also finds that an estimated 12 million UK adults signed up to a new video streaming service during lockdown, of whom around 3 million had never subscribed to one before.

Silver streamers widen their viewing. A third of 55- to 64-year-olds, and 15 per cent of people aged 65 or over used subscription streaming services in the early weeks of lockdown – up from 25 per cent and 12 per cent respectively before the pandemic.

Some of these were older viewers who previously watched only broadcast TV. One third (32 per cent) of 55-64 year olds, and 15 per cent of people aged 65+ used subscription streaming services in the early weeks of lockdown – up from 25 per cent and 12 per cent respectively before the pandemic.

Disney+, which launched on the first day of the UK’s lockdown, made an immediate impact. The new service attracted 16 per cent of online adults by early July, surpassing NOW TV (10 per cent) to become the third most-popular subscription streaming service behind Netflix (45 per cent) and Amazon Prime Video (39 per cent).

Among children aged 3-11, Disney+ was used in a third of homes (32 per cent) by June – overtaking BBC iPlayer, which saw use among these children fall from 26 per cent to 22 per cent during the spring.

Broadcasters’ video-on demand services have also seen some success in lockdown. Dramas Normal People and Killing Eve helped BBC iPlayer attract a record 570 million programme requests in May 2020 – 72 per cent higher than in May 2019. Similarly, Channel 4’s on-demand service, All 4, generated 30 per cent more views among 16-34s in the first two weeks of lockdown; and viewers spent 82 per cent more time on ITV Hub.

But the boost to the PSBs’ audience figures during peak-lockdown was short-lived, as the pandemic interrupted production of soaps, major sporting events and entertainment shows. By June 2020 their combined monthly share of broadcast TV viewing fell to 55 per cent, its lowest level since August 2019.

The question now is whether the changes to viewer behaviour will stick – and Ofcom suggests the adoption of streaming services will continue after lockdown. The overwhelming majority of online adults signed up to Netflix (96 per cent), Amazon Prime Video (91 per cent) and Disney+ (84 per cent) said they plan to keep their subscriptions in the months ahead. Similarly, more than half of UK adults (55 per cent) say that they will continue to spend the same amount of time watching streamed content in future as they did during lockdown.

Indeed, as lockdown measures eased towards the end of June, the uplift in viewing to video streaming services and other non-broadcast content held steady, at 71 per cent higher than the year before.[6] In contrast, by the end of June, traditional broadcast TV viewing[7] declined from its peak in early lockdown – falling 44 minutes to 3 hours 2 minutes per day

That trend also suggests that Disney+ will continue to make inroads into a crowded streaming landscape, and may well be able to hold on to its place as the third most popular subscription platform – not bad going for a service that only launched a few months ago.

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