Cut-price Disney+ offer drives summer surge in streaming subs

Cut-price Disney+ offer drives summer surge in streaming subs

Disney+’s “£1.99 for three months” campaign drove a significant boost in new subscriber adds across all streaming services this summer amid a longer-term trend of rising prices.

Kantar’s latest Entertainment on Demand survey, published today, revealed that Disney’s streaming service, which is set to launch a cheaper option with advertising in the UK next month, roughly tripled its rate of acquisition in September.

New subscribers over the period analysed (July-September 2023), “overwhelmingly” cited Disney’s campaign advertising £1.99 for three months as the reason why they signed up.

This helped Disney+ lead among streaming for gaining new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) customers in the third quarter of the year, with a share of 22%.

Apple TV+, meanwhile, ranked second in new subscriptions with a 15% share. Apple often promotes limited free-trial offers for its services, such as Apple TV+, Apple Fitness and Apple Music, for customers who buy new devices such as iPhones (which usually launch with new versions each September).

While Kantar’s report highlighted the success of some new Apple TV+ series such as Hijack (starring Idris Elba) and established favourites like Ted Lasso, it warned that “churn rates remain high”.

Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar, said, “Subscribers are consistently impressed with the quality of Apple’s shows, but they still don’t yet have the back catalogue to sustain viewing once those hero shows have been watched. It’s why shows like Friends and The Office continue to hold such value, as subscribers are often happy to fall back on familiar favourites whilst they wait for the next big thing — Apple doesn’t yet have that fallback option, and it’s telling in its churn numbers.”

Just under four in 10 (38%) of people who joined Apple TV+ this quarter were at one point previous subscribers, which is higher than its rivals.

Overall, the number of British households with at least one SVOD service increased by half a million from the previous quarter to 19.8 million.

The UK market leader Netflix claimed the top 3 most enjoyed titles over the quarter: The Witcher, The Lincoln Lawyer and Virgin River.

However, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video saw subscriber counts remain relatively flat over Q3. In order to generate additional revenue, Netflix launched an advertising tier towards the end of last year, while Prime Video plans to launch its own ad platform.

The report also noted the “rapid growth” of Fast (free ad-supported TV) services, with 16% of households already accessing these types of services on a regular basis. The launch of the public-service broadcaster successor to Freeview, Freely, will allow the more traditional broadcasters to compete on an even playing field when competing for advertiser spend, Sunnebo noted.

He said: “While the streaming Giants venture into uncharted territories experimenting with ad-tier and subscription models, a fresh contender has entered the arena, poised to transform the UK streaming landscape and challenge the dominance of the US-based services.”

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