If you’ve been enjoying the golden age of streaming, it’s time for a reality check. Major platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+ are rolling out price hikes and new subscription tiers that could significantly impact your monthly budget.
Then, in 2024, even more companies (like Amazon’s Prime Video and Paramount+) are planning potential price hikes and the inclusion of adverts within the streamed content.
Gone are the days when a single subscription could grant you access to a world of entertainment for a modest fee. As streaming services become increasingly indispensable in our daily lives, understanding these changes is crucial.
This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the recent and upcoming price hikes across the various streaming platforms in the UK.
So, if you want to keep enjoying your favourite shows without breaking the bank, read on.
Netflix: Setting The Trend For Price Hikes
Netflix, the American streaming giant, has recently announced another round of price hikes for its UK subscribers. This comes less than two years after the last significant increase.
The new pricing structure, as of October 18, 2023, is as follows:
The Basic Plan: This plan, which is only available to existing subscribers who signed up before it was discontinued, will see a £1 increase, taking it from £6.99/month to £7.99/month. This plan allows you to stream content in HD (720p) on one device at a time, without adverts.
The Premium Plan: This plan will go up by £2, from £15.99/month to a staggering £17.99/month. It allows you to stream some content in UltraHD (4K) on up to four devices at a time, without adverts.
The Standard with Adverts Plan: This plan remains at £4.99/month and lets you stream content in Full HD (1080p) on two devices at a time, but with adverts (and without the ability to download content for offline viewing).
The Standard Plan: This plan remains at £10.99/month and allows you to stream content in Full HD (1080p) on up to two devices at a time, without adverts.
The price hike has been met with some controversy, especially considering the backdrop of rising living costs across the UK.
However, Netflix justifies these increases by pointing to its significant investments in content, including original series, films, and even live sports events. In fact, Netflix spent over $17 billion on content last year alone.
Moreover, Netflix has been cracking down on password sharing this year.
If you’re found sharing your Netflix password outside your immediate living environment, you’ll receive an email warning you that continued sharing will incur additional charges.
Specifically, each “Extra Member” you add to your account will cost an extra £4.99 per month.
With the new pricing, Netflix has become one of the most expensive streaming services in the UK, especially if you opt for the Premium Plan. Therefore, it’s worth considering whether the content and features justify the higher costs.
Disney+: A Pricey Revamp
Disney+ is not just increasing its prices next week (at least for some) – it’s also overhauling its offer in the UK.
Historically, Disney+ launched in the UK in March 2020 with a price of £5.99 per month or £59.99 per year. The price was increased to £7.99 per month or £79.90 per year in 2021.
From November 1, the platform will introduce a new ad-supported tier called “Standard With Ads,” priced at £4.99/month, with Full HD (1080p) content and up to two concurrent streams (but no downloads).
Additionally, a “Standard Without Ads” tier at £7.99/month will be launched, with Full HD (1080p), two streams – and the ability to download content for offline viewing.
The existing single tier that we’ve known so far, will transition to a “Premium” tier priced at £10.99/month. As it does today, it will support 4K/HDR video, Dolby Atmos sound, and up to 4 concurrent streams.
The introduction of ad-supported tiers is a strategic move by Disney+ to remain competitive and open up new revenue streams.
However, this also means that subscribers who wish to continue enjoying an ad-free experience, in 4K, will have to opt for the more expensive “Premium” tier.
Existing subscribers will continue with their current plan (soon to be renamed “Disney+ Premium”), but will have the option to switch to the new Standard tiers.
However, existing subscribers will only keep their current pricing until December 6. After that, they will be billed the new price starting from their next billing cycle (unless they switch to a different tier).
And, if all that’s not enough – Disney+ is now following Netflix’s lead by cracking down on password-sharing. This effectively means a price increase for those who share their account with friends or family.
Apple TV+: The Underdog Gets Pricey
Apple TV+ has also joined the bandwagon of streaming services increasing their prices in the UK this week.
The service now costs £8.99 a month, up from the previous £6.99.
New subscribers will be charged the new prices immediately, while existing subscribers will see the change on their next billing date.
Apple TV+ launched in November 2019 at a price of £4.99 per month, with a one-year free trial offered to those who purchased new Apple devices.
The price then jumped up to £6.99/month in October 2022 – and now we’re up to £8.99.
Apple TV+ is one of the few streaming services that don’t have a cheaper ad-supported tier – so it’s certainly possible we’ll see one introduced sometime in the future.
The platform has been gradually carving a niche for itself with original programming like Ted Lasso, Silo and Foundation.
However, the price hike could deter potential subscribers, especially given the platform’s relatively smaller content library compared to giants like Netflix and Disney+.
Prime Video: Ads Are Coming
Amazon’s Prime Video is planning a significant change for 2024 – the platform will introduce limited adverts for its UK audience.
Those who wish to continue watching without adverts will have to pay more, although the exact cost for this new ad-free tier in the UK has not yet been disclosed (but we know it’s going to be $2.99/month in the US).
Prime Video has been part of Amazon’s Prime membership, which costs £95/year and includes other benefits like free delivery.
The introduction of ads marks a departure from Prime Video’s original value proposition of an ad-free experience.
While Amazon assures that the ads will be “meaningfully fewer” than those on traditional TV, the introduction of any adverts could be a sticking point for subscribers.
And for those who prefer an ad-free experience, this effectively amounts to a price increase, much like the recent changes with Disney+.
Paramount+: The New Kid On The Block
Paramount+ is the latest platform to announce upcoming changes to its subscription tiers.
However, while the new Premium and Ad-supported tiers have been confirmed for several international markets, it’s still unclear when or if these changes will come to the UK.
Currently, Paramount+ costs £6.99/month or £69.90/year in the UK.
The platform has not changed its price since its UK launch 15 months ago. However, with the upcoming international changes, the question looms: Are we headed towards pricing changes in the UK?
The Premium Plan is tailored towards providing a higher-quality viewing experience, supporting 4K UHD, HDR10, and Dolby Vision for HDR (4K is currently not available at all on Paramount+ in the UK).
The ad-supported tier aims to strike a balance between subscription revenue and advertising earnings. If these changes do make their way to the UK, it could significantly impact the platform’s pricing structure.
Sky’s NOW: Expensive Yet Stable, For Now
While other streaming services are hiking their prices, Sky’s NOW service (formerly known as NOW TV) remains an exception, at least for the time being.
Currently, NOW offers its Entertainment and Cinema packages at £9.99/month each.
Add the NOW Boost for an extra £6/month, which provides Full HD streaming and removes the adverts, and you’re looking at a monthly cost of £25.98.
This makes NOW one of the pricier streaming options in the UK, even without recent price increases (and without taking into account the £34.99/month Sky Sports membership) – although they usually offer discounted prices.
Even though the service has maintained stable pricing for a considerable period, its initial high cost means it’s far from a budget-friendly option.
As of now, there’s no indication that NOW plans to adjust its pricing, but given the industry trend, a future increase wouldn’t be surprising.
Final Thoughts: The Streaming Landscape Amid Rising Costs
The UK’s streaming landscape is in a state of flux, with a growing number of households embracing subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming services despite rising costs.
According to Barb’s latest data, 67.3% of UK homes had access to an SVOD service in Q3 2023, up from 65.9% in the previous quarter.
While Netflix and Amazon Prime Video continue to dominate, being accessible in 58.2% and 45.3% of UK homes respectively, newer entrants like Disney+ and Apple TV+ are also gaining ground.
Interestingly, Sky’s NOW service, one of the pricier options, saw a slight drop in its reach, indicating that its high cost might be a deterrent for some – which might also explain why it did not join the price-hiking party this year (so far, at least).
As prices continue to climb, consumers are faced with increasingly difficult choices. The value proposition of each service is now under greater scrutiny, forcing us to weigh the benefits against the rising costs.
One thing to remember is the flexibility that TV cord-cutting allows. Unlike pay-TV contracts (such as the ones you sign with Sky, Virgin Media and BT), streaming services don’t usually come with long-term commitments.
Therefore, most people don’t need ALL the streaming services ALL the time. You can subscribe to Netflix for a couple of months to watch the new shows you’re interested in – and then easily cancel.
Next month, you can jump on the Disney+ bandwagon for a month or two. Then switch to Paramount+. And then, maybe you go on holiday and cancel everything for a month.
As we head into 2024, we can only be certain of one thing – the price increases will, unfortunately, continue.
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