Households paying £8m a year for channels they don’t watch

Freeview commissioned the study.
Freeview commissioned the study.
Share this article
Have your say

TOO many consumers are paying monthly fees for television channels they do not watch, according to new research from the Post Office and Freeview.

People in the UK spend £8.1 million a year on television, home phone and broadband bundles – yet are often not watching the extra channels they pay for.

Most households paying a monthly fee for superfast broadband are not using the internet enough to make the fees worthwhile.

The research reveals that des­pite 13.7 million homes paying for extra TV channels, three- quarters (75 per cent) of their viewing hours are spent watching free-to-air channels.

The average monthly spend on bundles is £49 with almost half of this (£22) being spent on paying for extra TV channels.

Older generations are getting some of the poorest value for money. The average bill for over 65s is £51 per month, yet they watch just one hour of TV per day on paid-for channels and use the least amount of data per month (12Gb). In comparison, 18-24-year-olds spend £41 per month but use 24Gb of data.

People may also be paying too much because they are not aware of the number of popular programmes available for free.

According to the latest figures, 972 of the most highly-rated programmes shown on UK TV between January and June last year were available to people who had a television or a set top box which gave them the full range of free-to-view channels.

The survey reveals TV viewers in Edinburgh spend 74 per cent of their viewing time watching channels also available for free, while Glaswegians spend 64 per cent of their TV time watching channels which are also available for the price of a set-top box.

The study reveals that consumers are signed up to broadband speeds far beyond their needs.

The majority (77 per cent) of people with a television, phone and internet package said they mainly used their connection for surfing the web, e-mailing and social networking – activities that only require speeds of 5 Mbps – yet the average speed people are paying for (29 Mbps) is more than five times higher. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) do not use all the broadband capacity they are paying for.

Hugh Stacey, the head of Post Office HomePhone and Broadband, said: “While bundles can be tempting, this report shows they provide far more than the average person needs and 
millions of people are clearly paying for services they never use.

“Consumers need to carefully align what they need to what suppliers are offering as part of their bundles.”

Guy North, marketing communications director at Freeview, said; “Paying a seemingly small monthly fee to have access to hundreds of TV channels as part of a bundle deal may seem appealing, but the reality is that the vast majority of people are paying for channels they’re not likely to watch.

“Viewing figures show that 97 per cent of the most watched TV programmes are already available without subscription, so people shouldn’t have to spend money subscribing to TV when they don’t need to.”

A spokesman for uSwitch said: “It is amazing how much you can save when you stop paying for things you don’t need.”