Rural households are nearly twice as likely as Londoners not to have Netflix and similar online video services, a new poll has shown, prompting a warning that poor broadband is creating a national “streaming divide”.
A YouGov poll of 2,000 people showed that 26 per cent of those in countryside areas did not use at least one video streaming service, compared to just 14 per cent in the capital.
Netgem, the company which commissioned the research, said the low numbers of streaming was likely linked to the fact rural households tend to have slower broadband connections that struggle with people watching video content online.
The findings came as the Government pledged to roll out ultra-fast “gigabit-capable” broadband connections across the country by 2025.
The poll asked respondents how many streaming services they currently used or are subscribed to, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Disney+ and others.
Scotland was found to have the highest levels of people not streaming online, with more than a quarter (28 per cent) saying they did not use a single service.
Other areas with high levels of people unable to stream were the East Midlands and south-west England, where 24 per cent did not use a single service, and the east of England, where it was 21 per cent.
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Overall, only 20 per cent of people in urban areas did not use a single streaming service, compared to 22 per cent of people in towns and 26 per cent in the countryside.
Netgem, a company that provides streaming and Freeview services, said that the particularly low levels of streaming in Scotland were likely linked to the fact that about a quarter of the country (24 per cent) currently have slow internet speeds of less than 15mbps.
In London, less than one per cent (0.82 per cent) of people cannot get internet speeds greater than 15mbps.
Streaming services such as Netflix say their services can be used on internet speeds as low as 3mbps. However, people with slow connections will often find streaming takes up such a large amount of their bandwidth that it hinders internet speeds for other users in the household.
Following the findings, Shan Eisenberg, CCO at Netgem UK, said: “Today’s findings show that there is a clear link between slow average broadband speeds and lack of uptake in streaming services.
“Varying broadband speeds across the country, especially in rural areas, could be leading to an emerging streaming divide.”
The Government has currently pledged to roll out connections that can reach up to 1,000mbps to 85 per cent of the country by 2025, and has earmarked £1.2 billion in that time to help providers get cable in the ground in harder-to-reach and remote rural areas.