Futuresource: Disney, Netflix, Amazon Added More Than 6 Million SVOD Subs in U.K. Through June

With European adoption of subscription streaming video driving subscriber growth among American platforms such as Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, new data from Futuresource Consulting suggests the aforementioned services have added more than six million combined subs in the United Kingdom through June 30 — including four million alone for Disney+.

“Disney’s timing was impeccable with Disney+ launching on the first day [March 24] of full lockdown,” analyst David Sidebottom said in a statement. “Our forecasts indicate that the service will account for a significant proportion of the growth in the U.K. SVOD sector in 2020.”

Despite the sub growth, 2020 continues to be a volatile year for the British video and TV entertainment industry, with a lockdown boom that has played to the strengths of content hungry consumers, offset by challenges around consumer retention in the second half of the year, particularly for those reliant on monthly subscriptions, as the U.K. begins to open for business again.

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London-based Futuresource projects 2021 will see a 10% increase in video/TV entertainment consumer spending, topping £10 billion total spend on video for the first time driven by increased consumer choice and continued investment in the industry.

“A strong slate will help the box office recover and in turn provide a major boost to the home video sector,” Sidebottom said.

Beyond content delivery, the U.K. continues to make its mark as a global content production powerhouse. Major investments in studio facilities planned in and rolling out from 2020 to 2023 will further enhance the region’s reputation and feed digital services with a growing range of quality content.

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Futuresource forecasts the overall video and TV entertainment sector will reach £11.3 billion in consumer spend in 2024. This will help drive total sector revenue and U.K. exports, which can be reinvested into the industry.

“The polarization of fortunes in 2020 means overall video and entertainment revenues are set to fall this year, but there is massive potential waiting around the corner,” Sidebottom said.

‘Dolittle’ Returns Atop Weekly U.K. Home Entertainment Chart

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Dolittle edged back to the top spot on the U.K.’s weekly Official Film Chart (packaged media/digital) through July 1. The movie entered the chart at No. 1 in June. The Robert Downey Jr. starrer bested Emma. (Universal) by 193 unit sales, bumping Warner Home Video’s Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn to the third spot.

Emma. features Anya Taylor-Joy as the eponymous character in this 2020 adaptation of Jane Austen’s comedy of manners.

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Dark Waters (UPHE) is the only new entry on the chart at No. 4 via digital downloads only. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Dark Waters details the real-life case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals.

Previous chart topper 1917 (eOne) drops to fifth, and Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog slips a spot to sixth.

The Invisible Man (UPHE) leapfrogged 11 spots to seventh, marking its Top 10 debut. The movie stars Elisabeth Moss, whose character’s abusive ex (who is invisible) supposedly took his own life.  But she suspects his death was a hoax.

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Jumanji: The Next Level staves off falling out of the Top 10, climbing two spots to eighth. Disney’s Onward drops to ninth, and Frozen II returns to the countdown in 10th.

U.K. Daily Internet Usage Tops 4 Hours

Internet use in the United Kingdom is surging. Adults in the U.K. now spend more than a quarter of their waking day online with myriad services such as TikTok and Zoom, according to new data from Ofcom, the region’s regulator for the communications services.

In April, during the height of the coronavirus lockdown, U.K. adults spent a daily average of four hours and two minutes online. This was up from just under three and a half hours in September 2019. With people looking for new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and fit during the pandemic, video-sharing and video-calling services surged in popularity.

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TikTok, which allows users to create and share short dance and lip-sync videos, reached 12.9 million U.K. adult visitors in April, up from just 5.4 million in January. Twitch, the live-streaming platform for video gamers, saw an increase from 2.3 million adults to 4.2 million.

The number of people making video calls doubled during lockdown, with more than 70% doing so at least weekly. Houseparty, the app which combines group video-calls with games and quizzes, grew from 175,000 adult visitors in January to 4 million in April. But the biggest growth was seen by Zoom, the virtual meeting platform, which grew from 659,000 users to reach 13 million users over the same period — a rise of almost 2,000%.

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Ofcom found that 90% of adults, and almost all older children aged 8-15, with access to the Internet used at least one of these platforms (YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok) in the past year, with many doing so several times a day. About 32% of online adults now spend more time viewing video-sharing services than broadcast television.

“Lockdown may leave a lasting digital legacy,” Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s director of strategy and research, said in a statement. “The coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online, with millions of people using online video services for the first time.”

The study shows that, before the pandemic, many people were moving away from more established forms of communication — particularly landline calls and SMS text messages — and adopting newer methods.

In the 12 months to February, more people were sending daily text messages using online messaging platforms (52%), such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, than using SMS (41%) or email (26%). Daily use of online voice calls (31%) was only slightly lower than mobile calls (38%).

The pandemic appears to have sped up the adoption of online services to keep in touch. More than 70% people in the U.K. are now making video calls at least weekly, up from 35% pre-lockdown. This trend is particularly noticeable among older Web users; the proportion of online adults aged 65+ who make a least one video-call each week increased from 22% in February to 61% by May.

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Speeds to No.1 on U.K. Official Film Chart

Packaged media proved to be the perfect spark to push Paramount Home Entertainment’s Sonic the Hedgehog to the top of the U.K. Official Film Chart through June 17.

The video game adaptation entered the chart in April at No. 3 when it was released on digital download early due to the COVID-19 crisis. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Bloodshot returned to the chart in the fifth spot following its release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K UHD.

Bloodshot, which stars Vin Diesel, was first released digitally in March, two weeks after its theatrical bow. Entertainment One’s Oscar-winning war drama 1917 jumped to No. 2, while the previous week’s No. 1, Dolittle (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment) fell to No. 3, and Disney’s Onward dropped to No. 4.

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Sony Pictures’ Bad Boys For Life finished No. 6, while the studio’s Jumanji: The Next Level remained strong at No. 7. Sony Pictures’ Little Women came in at No. 8, while Disney’s Frozen II followed at No. 9, and Universal’s Cats fell four spots to No. 10.

Foreign Films ‘Internment,’ ‘16/03’ and ‘Coffee in Winter’ Among Titles Due on DVD Aug. 11 From BayView

Foreign films Internment, 16/03 and Love Is Cold as well as the U.K.’s Coffee in Winter and Moments of Darkness are among the titles coming from BayView Entertainment on DVD Aug. 11.

Internment (2018) is a drama set in Albania during communist rule. The Kulla family struggles as they are forced by government agents into internment. For Artur, the family’s son, things get more complicated when his girlfriend Frida is forced into an engagement with a high ranking operative. They continue to be subjected to cruel punishment when the arrival of a repatriated family friend complicates matters further.

In 16/03 (2017), haunted by the chemical attacks that claimed the lives of his family, Aryan, a Kurdish sniper, flees his homeland in search of a better life in the United Kingdom. Aryan begins to work in the film industry as a model of an asylum seeker but when an action scene goes horribly wrong and is attacked by terrorists, he is blamed as an insider. As the public outcry mounts against him, Aryan stands alone with only his English girlfriend believing his innocence. Detectives start to dig deeper into Aryan’s past and find evidence of his past military training, which adds more weight to the public’s desire for vengeance.

In Love Is Cold (2018), at the dawn of the 1999 handover of Macau to mainland China, two students (Endy Chow, Michael Tong) find themselves caught up in murder, pursued by mobsters and the police alike. When one of the student’s father tries to send her back to the Mainland, the true story is revealed.

Two other films from the United Kingdom are also coming to DVD Aug. 11, Coffee in Winter and Moments of Darkness.

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Coffee in Winter

In the dramatic romance Coffee in Winter (2020), Rod’s always lived life in accordance with his Indian culture and his family’s expectations: graduate, get a good job and get married. Hoping there’s more to life than this, he decides to quit his job as an I.T. professional and study a masters in photography. Hema, his sympathetic wife, encourages and supports him. When the semester begins, Rod meets a young and free-spirited German girl, Kim. Her passion for art and life inspire him to become more than the sum of his family’s expectations. They meet often, taking photographs, sharing ideas and discussing life over coffee. Caught up in the atmosphere of the city’s mellow nightlife, Rod finds himself moving further away from his traditional life.

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In Moments of Darkness (2020), after his recent release from prison, AJ tries to get his life back on the right track. However, his efforts are met with equally frustrating results as he struggles to find work. With his family and friends reluctant to get too close, he finds himself isolated and defeated. Eventually finding work as a night watchman in an old 19th century town hall, AJ becomes relentlessly haunted by disturbing events of his past as he starts losing his grip on reality. With his immediate future seeming uncertain, he’s left to piece together what is left his fractured life.

Pluto TV Tops 100 Channels

ViacomCBS’s ad-supported VOD platform, Pluto TV, has reached 101 channels with the addition of reality show “Secret Dealers” and “Crime Investigation Australia.”

“Dealers” showcases homeowners faced with the decision whether to sell or keep their family heirlooms. “Crime Investigation Australia” uncovers the country’s most horrific crimes.

“Since launching a year and a half ago with only 13 channels in the U.K., 100 channels was a first goal to offer viewers a healthy, diverse line-up,” Olivier Jollet, managing director Europe at Pluto TV, said in a statement.

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Pluto TV launched in the U.K. in October 2018 — the first foreign territory outside of the U.S. Pluto TV is currently available in the U.K. via Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, Now TV and in the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, among others.

Report: Brits Want Their SVOD for Free

British rock band Dire Straits famous 1985 song “Money for Nothing” mocks pretty boys getting “their chicks for free.” New data from tech company The Trade Desk suggests British consumers love subscription video-on-demand — they just don’t want to pay for it.

In a recent survey, 70% of respondents said they wouldn’t spend more than £20 monthly ($25) on streaming services, a decline of £5 ($6.26) compared with a separate survey in September 2019. The research company contends the change in consumer attitude could result in a revenue loss of approaching £100 million ($125 million).

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“While people want access to a variety of premium content, there’s a limit on how much they’re willing to pay. And with purse strings tightening, it’s time to think about how ad-funded models could benefit consumers, as well as supporting multiple streaming services,” Dave Castell, GM of inventory and partnerships at The Trade Desk, said in a statement.

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As a result, Castell believes the limit on SVOD subsciption spending is a boon to ad-supported VOD, including services such as ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV.

“This data reveals a clear willingness among U.K. consumers to accept advertising if it means accessing their favorite shows for cheaper prices, or for free, but it’s vital that it’s done right,” the analyst said. “Ads must be creative, relevant and appropriately timed to keep consumers content. In doing so, streaming platforms can generate the revenue they need to keep creating the engaging, entertaining TV that Brits clearly crave, without charging the bill back to them.”

U.K. SVOD Market to Double Subs in Five Years

It’s a SVOD market in the United Kingdom — regardless of the coronavirus pandemic. New research from GlobalData contends growth in subscription video-on-demand is set to double over the next five years. The total number of SVOD subscriptions is expected to increase from 22.4 million to 44.6 million. Total market revenue is projected to also double to £3 billion ($3.6 billion) in 2024 from £1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) last year.

While the London-based research firm agrees there will be some positive impact on SVOD adoption from COVID-19, it expects this to be outweighed by a combination of lockdown-driven adoption and consumer take-up of new services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, Acorn TV and BritBox, among others.

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“Prior to COVID-19, the SVOD market in the U.K. was experiencing a high rate of growth, with no sign of plateauing,” Joel Cooper, senior director, telecoms market data and intelligence, said in a statement.

The U.K. market has traditionally been dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, with Comcast-owned Sky’s Now TV in third place. GlobalData now believes Disney+’s impact is expected to be particularly pronounced given its brand power, breadth of premium content and low price.

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In the U.S., Disney+ acquired about 25 million paying subscribers just two months after launching in November 2019, equivalent to around 10% SVOD subscriber market share.

“SVOD in the U.K. is a long way from saturation point,” Cooper said. “The market represents a clear opportunity for existing players as well as potential new entrants.”

Early Digital Releases Push ‘1917’, ‘Onward’ Atop Weekly U.K. Home Entertainment Chart

Sam Mendes’ Oscar-nominated World War I movie 1917 replaced Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as the top-selling weekly home entertainment release in the United Kingdom through May 13. The Universal Pictures movie is distributed by Hasbro’s Entertainment One in the U.K.

In the second spot was Disney’s Onward, which entered The Official Film Chart rankings eight weeks early on digital due to the coronavirus’ upending retail distribution schedules. Rise of Skywalker completed the podium.

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The Official Film Chart is a weekly rundown of the U.K.’s favorite films bought on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital download and is compiled by the Official Charts Company, based on sales across a seven day period through outlets including mail order, entertainment shops, supermarkets and download stores.

Rounding out the Top 20 selling titles of the week in order included JoJo Rabbit (2C Studios); Birds of Prey (Warner Home Video); Frozen 2 (Disney); Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment); The Gentleman (EIV); Spies in Disguise (Disney/Fox); Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Home Entertainment); Knives Out (Lionsgate U.K.); Playing With Fire (Paramount); Spider-Man: Far From Home (SPHE); Joker (Warner); LeMans ’66 (Disney/Fox, known as Ford v. Ferrari in the U.S.); Rocketman (Paramount); Avengers: Endgame (Disney/Marvel); Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment); Midway (Lionsgate) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (SPHE).

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‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Remains Top 2020 Disc Debut in the U.K.

Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker maintained its No. 1 ranking as the top-selling weekly DVD/Blu-ray Disc release through April 29 in the United Kingdom, according to new data from the Official Film Chart.

With 235,500 combined unit sales from DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD this week, Rise of Skywalker topped by 5,000 discs the previous 2020 weekly record set by Downton Abbey in February.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s Jumanji: The Next Level (2) holds on to the previous week’s position, as Disney’s Frozen II (5), Paramount Home Entertainment’s Sonic The Hedgehog (6), Blue Story (8), Lionsgate U.K.’s Knives Out (9) and DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls (10) slip from their previous places.

Three new entries on the week’s Top 10 included Warner Home Video’s Birds of Prey in the third spot.

Other top-selling packaged media releases included Disney’s Spies in Disguise (4) from Fox, and the boxed set release Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (7).