Netflix is way ahead of Amazon Prime in the UK

A crowning achievement.
A crowning achievement.
Image: Netflix/Alex Bailey
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UK productions like The Crown are paying off for Netflix. The streaming-video service is well ahead of its nearest rival, Amazon Prime Video, in the UK—the world’s fifth-largest media market (paywall).

Nearly 7.5 million UK households subscribed to Netflix as of the third quarter of 2017, about 80% of the households that subscribed to at least one subscription-video-on-demand service overall, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (pdf), which conducts regular surveys about the UK’s TV landscape. By comparison, 3.84 million households subscribed to Amazon, the survey found.

Amazon did grow its base more than Netflix, year over year, with a 51% rise in the third quarter. Netflix’s grew 23%. But Amazon’s rise appears to be leveling off, as it had the smallest quarter-on-quarter growth of the streaming services measured this period.

Netflix had a head start in the UK. It launched there in 2012, after licensing local favorites like Top Gear, The Only Way Is Essex, and The Inbetweeners. It continued to load up on popular British shows, like Skins, Luther, The Office, and Torchwood, and eventually began producing series locally, too. Also in 2012, Netflix ventured into original programming with shows like House of Cards. It later scooped up Black Mirror from Channel 4, licensed shows like Peaky Blinders as Netflix originals abroad, and bankrolled productions like The Crown, which is one of its flagship global series. 

Amazon launched Prime Video in the region a few years later in 2014. It bought LoveFilm, a local Netflix competitor, which it rolled into Prime. The subscription was bundled in with a Prime shipping membership in the UK and Germany, and released alongside Amazon Video, where users can buy or rent individual titles, similar to platforms like iTunes. Last year, Amazon used The Grand Tour, an offshoot of the BBC series Top Gear, to kick off its expansion of the service globally. That hasn’t seemed to do much for UK audiences, given the latest numbers.

Both Netflix and Amazon have a deep library of US and global TV shows they aren’t easily streamed in the UK, which makes them a draw for local subscribers, too. Netflix has popular shows like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Fargo, and Riverdale. And Amazon Prime has series like Mr. Robot, Preacher, and The X-Files revival.