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90% of UK Households Pay for TV, Video or Cinema

by User Not Found | Jun 28, 2012

Following this week’s eForum conference on free versus pay TV this week’s ConsumerMetrix Bulletin highlights a few key datapoints relevant to the debate. The full report has been made available for complimentary access.

As a number of speakers noted, including Sky’s Adam Kinsley, Head of Policy, the lines between pay and free are increasingly blurred. And if we broaden the question to consider people who pay in any way for video or television content, we can see that “pay TV” in the traditional sense is only one part of the story, albeit a very important one.


Our own ConsumerMetrix data suggests that only 10% of UK households have not paid for any form of television, online video or cinema visit during the past 12 months. We have segmented the UK TV household base into those who use a traditional pay TV service (61%), those who take a free TV service (typically Freeview, and a smaller number of FreeSat) but say that they also make some form of additional payments for television, which might include pay-per-view, additional subscriptions or other services. We are left with 33% of homes who say they use only “free TV”, but 7% are accounted for by people who also go online to buy video services, and another 16% who visit the cinema. These figures allow for people who have performed these activities at least once during the past year.

This survey wave did not include purchase or rental of DVD or Blu-ray discs, so the 10% estimate may be even lower if these were included. On the other hand, like most surveys, we are only including households with internet access: if we expanded to these households, which are presumably less likely than average to pay for television services, and by definition would not be using online video, the overall picture might shift a little towards genuine free-only households.



Nevertheless the point seems clear: many households are paying for video and television content in a number of ways, even if they prefer not to subscribe to a traditional pay TV service. The inclusion of cinema may be stretching the point a little, since the theatre experience cannot easily be replicated in-home, although this might suggest that there should still be growth potential in the home pay movies market if the experience can be improved. Sky’s new Now TV service, which launches in the near future, is clearly targeted at many of these pay TV refusenik households which nevertheless have money to spend on video services.

David Mercer



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