The UK has a problem. We are involved in a raging love affair with our favourite subscriptions that has left us completely hooked on getting our monthly fix. And with subscription options ranging from the absurd to the mundane and everything in between from weddings to home décor, pets, food and even laundry detergent there really is something for everyone.
Physical subscription boxes are big business and range from small side hustles being run from kitchen tables to household names like Hello Fresh. But it’s digital entertainment subscriptions that have had the biggest impact on how we live our lives. According to Finder.com over 46% of UK households now have access to streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and NowTV. These types of subscriptions are now firmly rooted in popular culture and are as much a part of our watching habits as the BBC or ITV.
Here’s a quick roundup of some of the best entertainment subscriptions that we just can’t do without:
I’ll start with the obvious, Netflix landed in our lives in 2012 and is one of, if not the most popular streaming platforms around, boasting 9.5 million subscribers in the UK, and 158 million worldwide. With thousands of movies and TV shows available to watch whenever and wherever, as well as an ever-increasing level of high-quality original content, it’s not hard to see why so many people are happy to pay the monthly tab that starts from £5.99 for the most basic package. Netflix is a no brainer.
Amazon owned, this monthly audiobook subscription is perfect for lovers of the written word that perhaps struggle to find the time to pick up a paperback. The appeal here is clear with membership starting at £7.99 a month you can be transported by the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry, Emelia Fox and David Suchet to far-off worlds and places while in the car or doing the washing up. And with Audible’s latest move into original podcasts, there’s even more reason to listen in.
This handy little subscription works like a library card. Subscribers are able to borrow up to 10 books at a time from over one million book titles, audiobooks and magazines — downloadable to either the Kindle or Audible apps on any device you choose. At £5.99 a month this may feel like a subscription too far but if you love to read, buying just one or two books from Amazon would cost more than this unlimited option. The only downside is that not every book that’s available to buy on Amazon is included.
Born in Sweden in 2006, Spotify gave us a brand-new way to listen to our favourite tunes — quite unlike the clunky pay-as-you-go format Apple was using. Spotify feels like an all-inclusive holiday where you could drink as many cocktails as you want safe in the knowledge that there will be no nasty surprises when it comes to the final bill. It offers multiple options for individuals, families and students and has recently launched a version of the app dedicated to kids under 12. You can even listen for free if you can bare the ad breaks. Beyond that, Spotify has gained reputation for just being really cool, with its quirky ad campaigns, personalised playlists, and wellness hook-ups like Headspace — so it goes way beyond just your basic music app.
So, what does this mean for consumers and the businesses that seek to meet their needs? These subscriptions have changed how we buy and consume entertainment. The proliferation of individual choice means that people are personalising their media consumption. It is no longer the case that one size fits all.
Businesses need to be able to offer a menu of options to a diverse range of consumers and adapt rapidly to their changing habits. These media megaliths have to be driven by what the data tells them and be very perceptive about changing consumer needs. They must respond, adapt or die — RIP Blockbuster!
With once insurgent, now established players like Netflix and Amazon Prime producing new original content at rate of knots and new players like Disney Plus entering the market every five minutes, consumers will have even more choice in the future. This subscription addiction is going nowhere anytime soon. Bring it on.