European subscription market still lucrative opportunity despite affordability concerns

Price hikes, password-sharing crackdowns, and a cost of living crisis are deterring European subscribers from spending more on subscription services – but not by as much as one might think.

Appetite for subscriptions remains high, with 60% of British consumers saying they’d sign up to more subscriptions if they could afford it, according to a new report from UK payment processing company Bango.

Even a tax on streaming services introduced in several European countries doesn’t seem to have deterred consumers from subscribing, according to Bango. Its report is drawn from a survey of 5,000 subscribers across UK, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy.  

Although they spend less than counterparts in the U.S. - €696 ($754) compared to €863 ($935) - one in five European consumers are likely to add another subscription to their list soon in order to watch the Paris Olympics.

The average European subscriber has 3.2 subscriptions, while the average American subscriber has 4.5. Note that in Bango’s report ‘subscriptions’ includes SVOD alongside subs to other services, from retail and gaming to food boxes.

Despite high cost of living concerns, UK subscribers are now spending €68 ($74) per month on subscription apps and services every year — on top of standard bills such as TV, phone, and internet. One in eight are paying more than €117 ($127) a month for their subscriptions, amounting to €1400 ($1,510) per year. That’s the highest in Europe, per the report.

British consumers are also the most likely to have a subscription which they always keep and never pause or cancel. Almost two-thirds (60%) can’t afford all the subscriptions they want. Nearly half (45%) have canceled due to recent price hikes, with 28% discouraged by the introduction of ads.

Paul Larbey, CEO of Bango said, “The UK consumer’s appetite for subscriptions now adds up to a material chunk of monthly household spending. While there is a clear appetite for subscriptions, affordability is a key concern.”

Across Europe, about 60% of consumers also say they can’t afford all the subscriptions they would like. Yet over a quarter (28%) said they don’t actually know how much they spend monthly on subscriptions.

After services like Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix introduced cheaper advertising tiers nearly a third (31%) of subscribers have downgraded while 28% have canceled altogether.

Nonetheless, about a quarter of Europeans have actually upgraded their subscription and 76%believe paid subscriptions should never display ads.

Tax on streaming

In 2020, France implemented a tax on streaming services, often referred to as the ‘Netflix tax’ or ‘streaming tax’. This levy requires streaming platforms to contribute a percentage of their revenue - potentially as high as 5.15% - generated in France to the French National Cinema Center (CNC). Funds collected are used to support French film and television productions, ensuring the continued growth and promotion of local content.

Germany, Belgium and Italy have passed similar legislation.

“It’s a lengthening list of regulations designed to protect regional media and promote service transparency in the face of the US streaming monopoly,” said Larbey. “While it’s been reported as a controversial move in France, it hasn’t undermined the growth of the subscription market in the region.”

Of respondents to Bango’s survey 31% said they would object to the introduction of a France-style tax on streaming services in their country.

And 94% of French subscribers have continued to pay for their music subscription services since the introduction of the 2024 music-streaming tax, which saw Spotify raise its prices locally.

Market subscription breakdowns


Subscribers in France pay an average €65 ($70) for subscriptions per month. This is despite French subscribers having the least number of subscriptions (3) compared to four other countries in the survey.

Crackdowns on password sharing have seen a third (33%) of subscribers now pay for a service they used to access for free. French subscribers are apparently open to paying more for a service that fits their needs, per this survey.

Bango European subscription spending graph 2024
Average annual subscription spending by country.  (Bango)

In fact, notes Bango, “they’d be willing to pay the most of all European countries for an all-in-one content hub.”


The average subscriber pays €60 ($65) per month. For service providers, the introduction of advertising would appear to be the least popular tactic when it comes to improving affordability, with almost a third (31%) of subscribers canceling as a result. Of respondents in Spain, 81% said paid subscriptions should never include ads – more than any other nation in our survey. 


With an average monthly spend lower than that of its European neighbors, subscribers in Germany appear the least likely to cancel following price hikes and the introduction of ads. That said, over half (53%) say they can’t afford all the subscriptions they want, per the survey. German subscribers are also the most likely to lose track of how much they spend on subscriptions, with roughly 1 in 4  paying for a subscription they’re not currently using. 


Italians pay the least on average per month for their subscriptions at €50 ($54). They are the most likely to cancel a subscription following a price increase and the most likely to downgrade to an ad-supported tier. Nearly 60% said they can’t afford all the subscriptions they want, yet almost a third (30%) pay for a subscription they aren’t currently using. Despite price sensitivity, Italian subscribers wouldn’t object to a France-style streaming tax being introduced.

More work needed to reduce subscription friction

“Even in the face of increasing regulatory hurdles, the European subscription market remains a lucrative opportunity for subscription services,” said Larbey. 

But more can be done to reduce friction, not least because most European subscribers (65%) feel there are too many subscription services to deal with.  Just under half (46%) are “annoyed” they can’t manage all of their subscriptions in one place.

“Fed up with the complexity of managing so many subscriptions, many subscribers just stick to one or two key services,” commented Larbey. “Others have abandoned the market altogether and turned to online piracy instead.”

To back that up Bango highlighted a 2022 study by the EU’s Intellectual Property Office revealing that the number of users across the continent accessing illegal content  declined between 2017 and 2021 then reversed when digital piracy increased by 3.3% in 2022. The report blamed disjointed services and a lack of legal, all-in one options for content.

Bango is using the report to argue for telcos and other service providers to aggregate more subscription services under their roof. That serves Bango’s interest because it provides a platform for telcos to bundle subscriber payments, including help power Verizon’s +play aggregation hub in the U.S.

To be fair, there does seem widespread consumer appetite for change.

Half of Europeans in the survey said they want the ability to pay multiple subscriptions via one monthly bill. Over half (58%) want one app to manage all of their subscriptions and accounts. In Spain, it’s as high as 67%.

“European subscribers have made it clear that, just like in the US and Australia, they want telcos to offer these all-in-one content hubs,” Larbey said. “And they’re willing to pay for it. European telcos are already creating subscription-based deals but few combine subscriptions outside SVOD. Mobile and broadband providers are primed to take the next step into offering all-in-one content and subscription management platforms, moving from bundling to what we call ‘Super Bundling’.”