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Support for pay TV declines as recession continues

by David Mercer | 9月 20, 2012

It might be assumed that if you ask people whether they want to pay for something or get it free that the answer would be a slam dunk. Surprisingly, in fact, there are actually some people who recognise that they should pay for television rather than relying on advertising or public service funding to provide it free-of-charge (or free-to-view as the television world calls it).

In our ConsumerMetrix survey we have been asking people for the past three years how strongly they agree with the statement: No one should have to pay for television; all programmes, including all sports and movies, should be available to everyone and supported by advertisements or public funding.

The latest ConsumerMetrix report shows that there is a strong majority in both the US and Europe who agree with this opinion. Nearly half of Americans, and more than 70% in France think all TV should be free to view. There are also minorities who disagree: a quarter of Americans and 10% of French and Italian viewers.

It is also interesting to track the changes in the data over time. Since 2010 we have seen a significant increase in the number of UK respondents who agree that all sports and movies should be available free-to-view: the proportion agreeing with the proposition has risen from 49% to 54%, while the percentage disagreeing has fallen from 32% to 23%. This gives a net increase in support for free TV which is equivalent to more than 8 million people.

There have been less marked changes in other countries as well, notably in Germany, where the acceptance of pay TV has actually increased. One explanation is that Sky’s marketing campaigns and acquisition of premium content rights in Germany is actually persuading many Germans, who have been supposedly reluctant to adopt pay TV for many years, that direct payment is a justifiable business model.

In the UK we have seen Sky’s acquisition of new pay TV customers slow to a crawl in recent quarters: our survey suggests that personal financial circumstances have a lot to do with attitudes towards pay TV and therefore are likely to be having a direct effect on Sky’s business. Like everyone else Sky will be hoping that the economy turns round sooner rather than later so that these effects can be minimised.

David Mercer

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