Online Streaming Vs Cinema

3rd December 2022

Disney+ and Netflix subscription numbers have hit an all-time high, but so have the prices of cinema tickets. Conversations have started, and gossip has been shared, but one question is still unanswered, are online streaming platforms killing our cinemas? Katie Owen reports.

It's 5:30 on a frosty winter evening, and I am trying to figure out if I should leave the house, go to the cinema, and watch Black Panther: Wakanda forever, or if I should stay in and wait an extra seven months to watch the same movie on Disney+.

Questions run through my head, "is it worth it? How much are the tickets? is it cheaper to go or cheaper to stay?"

Disney Plus Vs Netflix

Disney Plus is known amongst many millennials and Gen-Z as the most popular online streaming service available today.

The streaming service was launched in November 2019 with a subscription price of £4.99 per month or £49.99 per year. Since the launch, the price has been changed to £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year, which is where it stays as of November 2022.

It is unknown if the price change was due to the rise in cost of living or if it was just due to the demand of the online streaming service.

The streaming service has seen a huge incline in its subscription numbers. According to Walt Disney, as of August 2022 within the 64 countries where the service is available, there are 152.1 million subscribers. That number compares to the 26.5 million subscribers the service had within the 1st quarter of 2020.

Within the UK's version of Disney+, there are over 3400 titles available with only more being added per month.

The rise in Disney+ subscription numbers

Netflix is another well-known streaming service. The streaming service was launched in The UK in 2012 with a subscription price of £5.99 per month. Since the launch, the price has been changed to £10.99 a month for their standard package, which is where it stays as of November 2022.

This price change is another change that is unknown whether it is related to the cost of living crisis or if it is due to the demand of the online streaming service.

Netflix has many different packages with different prices and various levels of special additions.

They have a Premium package which allows HD viewing, Ultra HD viewing and the ability to watch on 4 screens at the same time. The premium Package costs £15.99 a month.

Another package they have is a Standard Package which allows HD viewing and the ability to watch on 2 screens at the same time. The Standard package costs £10.99 a month.

They also have a Basic package which costs £6.99 a month; however, the basic package does not come with any special additions and only allows you to view on 1 screen at a time.

The online streaming service launched their new basic package called ‘Basic with Ads’ on November 3rd, 2022. The package offers the same as the original basic package but only costs £4.99 a month and shows 5 minutes of advertisements per hour.

Netflix has seen a huge incline in its subscription numbers. According to Netflix, as of the 2nd quarter of 2021, the streaming service had 209.18 million paying subscribers within the 190 countries where the service is available. That number compares to the 30.6 million subscribers (about the population of Texas) the service had in 2012.

The UK's version of Netflix has over 6,024 titles available with only more being added per month.

Social Media

Twitter has been a social media platform where most of the discussions about the cinema Vs streaming debate has taken place.

Mia Moore, a screenwriter and comedian has been very vocal about her opinions on the online streaming Vs cinema debate.

On November 22nd, 2022, Mia tweeted “Rubs me entirely the wrong way that Hollywood barely started diversifying before streaming could kill the theater experience

I love going to the movies. I love seeing unique stories with an audience.

When tans cinema hits, you're gonna watch it alone while you browse twitter”

The tweet has racked up 873 likes and 47 tweets. 12 people responded to her tweet, agreeing with her and promising to not use their phones when watching one of Mia Moore’s movies.

Miss Moore went on to create a thread of tweets confessing that she herself was guilty of being distracted by her phone whilst watching a movie at home.

Via a poll on Instagram, I asked people how they watched Marvel's 2022 movie, Thor: Love and Thunder.

Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder was in the cinema from July 7th, 2022, before being added to Disney+ on September 8th, 2022

11 people, between the ages 17 & 31, answered the poll, with 64% saying they used Disney+ to watch the Marvel film and 36% saying they visited their local cinema.

How did people watch Marvel's latest movie, Thor: Love and Thunder?

Twitter seems to be the platform that many people are using to talk and share their thoughts on the Cinema Vs Streaming debate.

Ticket prices

The UK has seen a large rise in the average cinema ticket price, especially since the latest cost of living crisis.

According to the UK Cinema Association, back in 2000, the average cinema ticket price was a measly £4.40 but since the multiple rises in the cost of living, the prices have risen £3.12, resulting in the tickets today being an average of £7.52.

Before it was declared that there was a cost of living crisis within the UK, the average cinema ticket price was £6.25, which means that the ticket prices have jumped up an extra £1.27 due to the crisis.

An example of the cinema tickets jumping up in price would be the Broadstairs cinema The Vue.

As of autumn 2022, The Vue cinema in Broadstairs changed their ticket prices and their seats. All their seats are now recliners with a swivel lap table and the ticket prices are now from £7.99. This means that their lowest priced seats are above average within the UK.

Their standard seats, which of course are the seats with the best view, now cost £9.99, with no change in price for children or concessions.

Who would want to spend £10 to see a movie that could and most probably will end up on Netflix, Disney+ or Prime Video? Especially since the monthly cost of each online streaming service is well under the price of £10.

21-year-old Hospitality supervisor, Charlotte Langan says that her new cinema habits are purely down to the price "I've got Disney plus; I've got Netflix and I use BBC iPlayer. I love going to the cinema. but the main reason [I don't go to the cinema] is it's very expensive and it's not just when you get there, it's getting there as well." she said

I was thinking about it, and the price for a ticket is very similar to the price of like a monthly subscription to Netflix or Disney plus"

"There are some films that come out, for example Marvel Films, I'll always go and watch a Marvel film when it comes out unless I don't have the time to go.

If it's a film that's been hyped up on like Tik Tok and it's just a [future] Netflix film, then obviously I'm only gonna watch it on Netflix.

I think there are some films that need to stay in the cinemas, but. I think I would go [to the cinema] if I didn't know a film was on. I probably wouldn't go and watch it like that. I wouldn't read the website and say 'oh. Yeah, I'll go watch that' if I haven't heard anything about it"

Filmmaker Billie Melissa, based in New York, voiced her opinion on the Cinema Vs Streaming debate. “I don't think that it's online streaming that's killing cinemas. I think it's the expense” she said.

Billie also shared how she felt guilty charging soaring prices during her time working in a London based cinema “I used to work in a cinema in Leicester Square and tickets to go there were like 20 pounds and I felt guilty asking people to pay that because it's so expensive and especially now like in the time that we're living in, where everything is rising in price”

“Plus, it's just not fair to ask someone to spend their weekly food shop on a ticket to see a film, and I think that streaming gives you that access a lot better, in the sense that you're paying £10 a month so you can watch whatever you want with no restrictions.

When you've got like literally thousands of releases, it's really easy to kind of justify what we're spending.” she said.

The price of tickets may have risen, but that does not stop everybody. Some people, like 65-year-old Nuala Payne, and 26-year-old Jonathon Bridges go to the cinema for the experience.

65-year-old cinema lover Mrs. Payne believes that the experience of going to the cinema is better than watching a movie at home "There's nothing like going to the cinema and watching a movie on a large screen. To watch a movie at home, it's only as big as the television you own" she said

"If I see something on television that I've missed at the cinema, I think - Oh it would have been so much better at the cinema and it would have gone given the chance

I'm an elderly lady and I live in fear of going online, so I don't use any online streaming services" she added

26-Year-old, Film enthusiast, Jonathon Bridges from London, goes to the cinema for the experience and for movies that will leave an impression. “I go for something that's a leave an impression

and I'm not necessarily talking, you know, explosions and superheroes and all that, I'm being taken away more by a certain sense of style and trust in the quality” he said.

Jonathon “I think that if I'm just looking for something engaging, that's showing me something new, something different, and at the end of the day, it's the same with any artist. I’m looking to have my imagination taken away.”

There's nothing like going to the cinema and watching a movie on a large screen

—Nuala Payne

What does the future of cinema look like?

Shaun Obanion, an independent film producer, writer and script consultant says that he thinks that online streaming is killing cinemas “It started at the top of the pandemic with day and date releasing,

When Warner Brothers announced that they were going to release all their movies on the same day in theatres and on their platform and when Disney Plus dropped excellent movies like Pixar’s Soul right to Disney Plus, that was part of this sort of Exodus from cinema.” he said.

Obanion also says that the pandemic had a play in the downfall of cinema “you had the 1/2 punch of a pandemic keeping people home. Then people got comfortable, I think with the idea of watching these movies in your house and it's kind of been going that way for a long time in my opinion.

Now you have people texting during the movie or talking during the movie as if they're in their living rooms. I think at some point we started to lose manners. I think the people that go to the cinema are people like myself. I'm in my late 40s, we're the ones that grew up with it. As a teenager, I used to stand in line for 2 hours to get into a movie when we didn't have reserved seating.

I still love the experience, so I will be one of the last holdouts I'll Still go to cinemas for movies” he added.

Shaun also shared what he think that future of cinema will be like “What I think is probably the future of my industry is we're going to see a shrinkage instead of there being multiplexes with like 18 screens or 10 screens or whatever. We're going to start to go back to the one screen cinema House most likely and those movie theatres cinemas. Will probably be owned. In large part by companies like Apple or Netflix,” he said

“So, I think you know. We're just going to see a sort of regression to an older way of doing it. The prices may go up, and again I will still be somebody who goes out for a certain movie” he added.

Sir Steve McQueen CBE, was also interviewed by The Telegraph about the future of cinema “Whatever happens, cinema has to survive” he said

“I have to sort of, I imagine, face up to the situation that things are changing. But I think that cinema experience can never be taken away” Sir McQueen added.

Audiences are coming back to cinemas

According to IBC, in April 2022 at the cinema exhibitors CinemaCon, John Fithian, CEO of the US Theater Owners trade body NATO went so far as to claim that: “Simultaneous release is dead as a serious business model and piracy is what killed it… evolving periods of exclusivity maximize revenue and increase perceived value to consumers. Theatrical windows grow our entire industry.”

Corinna Downing, Co-Owner of Broadstairs' independent single-screen cinema 'The Palace' says that not all cinemas are having a negative business impact from the growth of online streaming platforms like Disney+ and Netflix. “The story is different for independent cinemas than it is for commercial chains. COVID and streaming have actually had a positive business impact for us” she said.

The Palace has not had an easy recovery since the covid pandemic, "It's been a relatively slow recovery to pre-COVID numbers, but actually our numbers now are higher than they were pre-COVID overall as an average.” said Corinna.

Downing also revealed that because The Palace is an independent cinema, they choose what they show on their screen, "When we took on The Palace, our reason for starting it was to offer something different so that people would kind of get a sense of the character of the kind of cinema we are" she said.

"We gave it [Showing blockbuster movies] a go a year ago when everything was different and it didn't really work out,

If someone wanted to see something which wasn't a huge blockbuster, whether it be a superhero or whatever, then they would look to us, and we would give it.

The sort of films that we want to show are less likely to have value to the big streamers. So, the only place to see them will be at The Palace" she added.

The Palace cinema shows films that can not be found on any online streaming platform easily. An example of the films they show is the 1946 Christmas classic ‘It's A wonderful life’ directed by Frank Capra. They are also hosting a silent Sunday Laurel & Hardy Triple Whammy, showing 3 films starring Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy.

Corrina says that the palace has a limited number of generations within the audience at The Palace cinema “Our audiences tend to be families and then sort of the early 20s up so kind of you know, independent teenage visits. And going into kind of earlier student visits those people unless they're really kind of film heads. So, it's certain kind of age groups that like the palace” she said.

Palace Cinema, Broadstairs - Credit: Geograph

Generational differences

Different generations enjoy unique styles of movies, it becomes more obvious the more you investigate into the cinema Vs Online streaming debate.

During July 2022, Finder carried out a nationwide survey based on online streaming platforms. They questioned 2002 adults from the age of 18 upwards throughout Great Britain.

During the survey, they found many interesting statistics on British citizens' usage of online streaming platforms.

According to Finder UK, 9 out of 10 brits have used a streaming platform within the last 12 months.

Finder UK also say that as of august 2022, 58% of all households within the UK are subscribed to at least one online streaming platform, which is up 5% from 2020.

Netflix was found to be the most popular streaming platform within the UK and over 62% of Brits have used Netflix at least once.

Even though Disney+ was only launched in November 2019, According to Finder UK, 33% of Brits have used Disney plus within the past year.

The study also covered the differences between generations.

The survey showed that 73% of millennials, 67% of Generation X, 66% of Generation Z, 52% of baby booms and 31% of the silent generation all use Netflix. However, only 47% of millennials, 32% of Generation X, 48% of Generation Z, 16% of Baby Boomers and 6% of the silent generation use Disney +

During their study, Finder UK also found out that 4% of Millennials, 8% of Generation X, 1% of Generation Z, 18% of Baby Boomers and 37% of the silent generation, do not use any online streaming platforms at all.

Illegal streaming

Finder UK’s study also showed that there was illegal activity happening within Britain.

According to Finder UK, over 2.25 million brits have used an illegal streaming service to watch a television show or a movie.

Almost 1 in 20 Brits opted to not attend the cinema or pay for an online streaming service to watch both television and movies.

2 million people (about the population of Nebraska) in the UK (just under 4%) used an illegal streaming service to stream a sporting event at least once in the past year. Of the same people, 1.25 million (2%) watched at least one premier league match within 12 months, on an illegal streaming service.


Disney Plus has a 15% discount available to students across the UK, however, Netflix does not have any student discounts available within the UK.

Netflix does have some agreements with universities across North America and offers the students at University of Arizona a six month trial period and then a free year.

The 15% Disney Plus student discount is available through the UNiDAYS app, where many more student discounts can be found.

Local cinemas such as Cineworld and The ODEON cinema also have student discounts available. Cineworld’s student prices are around £2 less than the standard adult price, all you have to own is a valid student ID card. Students with a TOTUM card will be able to save 25% off tickets at the ODEON.

It is hard trying to find reasons why I should attend the cinema instead of waiting to watch Wakanda Forever on Disney+.

To watch Wakanda Forever once at my local cinema, The Vue, would cost me £9.99 without snacks or drinks and to watch it 30 times or more at home, it would only cost me £7.99.

When I don't think about ticket prices, there are still trivial things that come into play, such as dressing appropriately for public eyes and the prices of food inside the complex. If I were to stay in, I could wear my captain America onesie, no one would judge, and I could order Mcdonald's straight to my front door.

The price is the main reason why I'm going to stay home and wait for the movie to arrive on Disney plus. However, my pure laziness and want of being comfortable and cosy is the second reason.

I have answered my question about whether to watch Wakanda forever at the cinema or not... Although after all this investigating, the big question is still unanswered 'Is online streaming killing cinema?'