Almost half (49%) of premium digital pay-TV customers in the UK are watching less than a fifth of the channels included in their TV packages, according to new research by uSwitch.com, the independent price comparison and switching service.
And yet, the average yearly spend for premium pay-TV is £508, or £42.30 per month, with almost a third (32%) spending more than £50 a month. A quarter (25%) of Sky customers and 28% of Virgin Media customers pay more than £60 a month per household for their packages.
TV customers signed up to Sky, Virgin and BT say that, on average, they only watch a third (33%) of the channels included in their packages. Almost four in 10 (37%) watch less than 10% of the channels on offer, while 71% are watching less than half of the channels they pay for, suggesting many people may be signed up to the wrong service for their telly watching habits.
TV series and box sets have proved most popular on pay-TV, with 54% of customers naming these as their favourite genre to watch, closely followed by films (51%). Less than a third (32%) of viewers say that they watch sports most, falling to 26% among 18-34 year olds and rising to 36% amongst viewers aged 55 and over.
Almost two thirds (64%) of UK adults have paid for TV in the past 12 months, either with a premium digital service or a streaming service. The younger generation is more likely to pay for TV, with 71% of 18-34 year olds having paid for a service in the past year. The jury’s still out for the older generation, however, which is divided in its attitudes towards paying to watch TV. Just 56% of people aged 55+ have paid for TV in the past year.
However, younger viewers are opting for TV streaming services as a cheaper alternative, with a quarter (26%) of 18-34 year olds having used one in the last year compared to just 6% of people aged 55 and over. Netflix is more popular with women than men, while Amazon Prime and Now TV are more popular with men than women.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, TV and broadband expert at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s irksome to have to flick through dozens of channels you never watch. If you’ve found yourself sitting on the sofa questioning whether you’ve made the wrong decision to sign up to a bells and whistles pay-TV package, you know it’s time to look at other options.
“Providers have recognised our appetite for greater flexibility when it comes to both content and payments and are responding accordingly. Sky Q, Virgin’s V6 and Netflix allow you to download some content and watch it on the move, while Sky is now advancing on streaming services with its Now TV Combo available on monthly rolling contracts.
“There are households who would get the most out of a full on premium pay-TV package – big families or young professionals sharing are prime examples – given the need for content to suit different tastes and requirements. Just consider your viewing habits and look out for good introductory deals. It’s also wise to note when your contract ends so you can switch package or provider to take advantage of another deal.
“There’s plenty of room for greater flexibility in the pay-TV market – especially when it comes to simplifying cancellation. And, with the younger generation craving more flexibility, providers will have to listen and keep up with their demands.”