Today, Ofcom has announced that TV streaming services – such as Netflix, Amazon Prime TV and Now TV – now have more subscribers in the UK than traditional paid satellite/cable services. Combined subscriptions to streaming services reached 15.4 million as of Q1 2018, while paid TV subscriptions is at 15.1 million.
Along with these findings, Ofcom also reported that the amount of time people spend watching broadcast TV continues to decline. In 2017, the average daily viewing time was recorded to be three hours, 22 minutes. That's down nine minutes since 2016, and 38 minutes since 2012.
With that data then, it's no surprise that it seems people's viewing habits – especially young people – are shifting to online services. The total average viewing time on all devices is five hours, one minute, with about a third of that being to online content. But in 16 to 34 year olds, more than half of their average viewing time is spent watching streamed content. Alarmingly, Ofcom found that on average, people in this age bracket watch almost an hour of YouTube a day.
Talking to the BBC, Ofcom's chief executive Sharon White expressed her belief that British broadcasters really need to change the way they operate in order to compete with the rising success of online streaming services. She said "we'd love to see broadcasters such as the BBC work collaboratively with ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 so they have got that scale to compete globally."
BBC News reports that the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have already had early conversations about the possibility of working together to create a combined streaming service with the potential to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime TV. Whether such a thing will come to fruition currently remains a mystery, but considering the shifting trend to online media, it seems a likely step that broadcasters will eventually have to take to remain relevant.