71% of pay TV customers watch fewer than half their channels, yet spend over £500 a year

7 Dec, 2016

Almost half 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.

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 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 of the channels included in their packages. Almost four in 10 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 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.

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.