Netflix has had a significant impact on streaming in the United Kingdom and all over the world. The streaming service was launched in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolf when the entertainment industry was way different from what it is today.
This was when movie night meant getting a VCR player and a cassette. But thanks to technological advancements, Netflix launched a DVD rental service and is now the leading streaming service in the world by subscriber numbers.
You only need a fast internet connection and a Netflix subscription to watch your favourite shows, films, and documentaries. The streaming platform licenses most content but is venturing into original content production. Also, Netflix users have the freedom to watch content on various devices.
Today, subscribers can watch shows unavailable in their region. For example, want to stream Netflix UK in the US? You only need a VPN like ExpressVPN to switch locations and watch content blocked in your region. Also, you can stream Netflix simultaneously on different devices such as mobile phones, smart TVs, and tablets when subscribed to a Premium account.
Netflix has dramatically impacted British streaming history, and here are the changes that have taken place over time.
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History of Netflix in the UK
Netflix launched in the UK as a streaming service on January 9, 2012, and experienced fast subscriber growth amid competition from the well-established Sky Go. Fast forward to 2022, and Netflix has 17 million subscribers, according to data from Statista, while Sky Go’s subscriber numbers stand at about 13 million.
Worldwide, Netflix is the largest streaming service with over 160 million subscribers, and this number will grow when it launches the cheaper ad-supported plan.
The success came after years of experimenting with new ways to acquire and keep subscribers. For example, Netflix struck deals with different electronic companies in 2009 to run Netflix on smart devices and gaming consoles. This strategy proved successful and played a crucial role in Netflix’s entrance into Europe, especially the UK, in 2012.
The streaming platform allows subscribers to choose their favourite shows or Movies from an extensive content library at a monthly fee.
How Netflix Has Changed Streaming in the UK
Netflix has changed streaming over time in the United Kingdom by coming up with innovations that overhauled how people consume content. Let’s take a look at how the streaming service managed to do this:
The Rise of Binge-Watching
Unlike paid cable TV channels, where a new single episode drops weekly, Netflix releases an entire season in a single day. When releasing new episodes of its show, Netflix drops all episodes at once, which means users can watch an entire season in one sitting, which is brilliant.
When it acquired Breaking Bad, a big hit in the US, Netflix realized how crucial this is. UK streamers already knew Breaking Bad was a big hit and Netflix increased its popularity in the country by adding the first three seasons before the fourth. This allowed UK subscribers to get up to speed quickly.
Binge-watching has changed how we consume content in the UK, as long gone are the days when people sat together in the living room to watch TV.
Now viewers can stream on various devices from anywhere, even lying in bed. Watching multiple shows in a single sitting is the preferred way of watching shows in the UK.
Niche Content for Viewers
Traditional TV aired content to appeal to a broad audience, and this method worked for many years. However, this has changed over time thanks to streaming services like Netflix.
The streaming platform realized the importance of offering subscribers precisely what they wanted, and the only way to do this was through Big Data. The company used content ratings, number of views, customer feedback, and even IMDB ratings.
Now, Netflix analyses data gathered from subscribers to know the genres and talents to chase to meet demands.
However, Netflix improved its algorithm to understand its subscribers better and give them what they want. Netflix’s recommendation system is second to none and identifies viewing habits and the behaviour of similar users to find the content of interest.
Move to Original Netflix Content
In 2013, a year after its UK launch, Netflix ventured into content production to create original shows, films, and documentaries. This was a calculated move because the streaming giant used customer data to create appealing content.
The streaming giant developed a different approach than other networks to entice subscribers. Instead of releasing a pilot show and continuing production based on the metrics, Netflix offered contracts to produce an entire season or two.
This was risky, but the streaming service struck gold with shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, The Crown, etc. Investing in original content gave Netflix a loyal fanbase leading to profitable returns.
That’s why the streaming giant increased its content spend in the UK by 50% in 2020 to cross the $1 billion mark. Not only is Netflix producing more content in the UK, but it’s providing an opportunity to extend the UK culture globally.
Shows like Top Boy, Troy Fall of a City, Man Vs. Bee, Peaky Blinders, Sex Education, and I Am a Killer are British productions. This means UK streamers can binge on locally made shows and films when they want to watch something relatable.
A Shift in Top-Rated Programs
Entertainment programs used to dominate the UK entertainment scene with shows like The Eurovision Song Contest. But genres have shifted, and entertainment shows have lost their appeal thanks to streaming services like Netflix.
Netflix releases catchy reality TV shows like Dated & Related, Love Is Blind, Iron Chef, Too Hot to Handle, etc., to the UK audience.
The Decline of Broadcast TV
The decline of broadcast TV is not unique to the UK but worldwide as streaming has changed how people consume content and changed viewing habits. The vast majority of the British public has switched to streaming.
For example, the latest data from Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB) shows that 66.9% or 19.1 million homes in the UK have access to an SVOD subscription.
It’s clear most people in the UK prefer streaming compared to traditional broadcast TV.
Streaming services like Netflix have changed how people consume content in the UK and worldwide. Not only can you binge-watch content on your favourite device but choose the content you find appealing. This gives you the freedom to watch whatever you want, whenever you want.
Netflix manages to stay on top because they know what you want when you want it and on what device. Also, the company takes risks when creating new original content and is bold enough to change the business model. We can’t wait for what Netflix has in store for subscribers in the UK and worldwide.