Moneywise users rate traditional TV channels over online subscriptions

3 August 2018

Moneywise users prefer set-top box subscriptions and free-to-air TV channels to online subscription services, our latest poll results reveal.

In light of news from telecoms regulator Ofcom that online streaming services, such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, have overtaken traditional forms of viewing for the first time, Moneywise conducted a poll to find out how our readers watch television.

The findings show that over a third (37%) use subscriptions to paid-for set-top box services, such as BT, Sky TV, and Virgin Media.

However, a narrow majority - at 38% - opt for the more money-saving choice of free to air Freeview channels. With digital aerials now ubiquitous and most modern television sets including Freeview channels, the only cost associated with this form of viewing is the TV licence. Currently, the TV licence costs £150.50 annually for households that watch or record live television channels and/or use BBC iPlayer services on any device. However, if you’re aged 75 or over, the TV licence is free.

In comparison to Ofcom’s findings, a much smaller proportion of Moneywise readers use online streaming services, with just 9% watching online licence-fee based services, such as BBC iPlayer and ITV, and just 6% using paid-for online subscriptions, such as Amazon Prime, Netflix or NOW TV.

Worryingly one reader comments: “I object to the BBC licence fee, but cannot afford other subscriptions because of it.” A typical annual Netflix subscription costs between £60 and £120 depending on the package chosen. Meanwhile, an Amazon Prime subscription costs £80 a year and includes next-day delivery and access to special online offers from the retailer.

If you never watch live television or don’t use services such as BBC iPlayer, you don’t need to pay the licence fee. Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are therefore a potentially big money-saver. And with these services growing and adding new content all the time, they could be a great option for savvy households who want to watch programs and movies affordably. Although another cheeky reader says: “I just watch through the neighbour’s window!”

See the poll results below for a full breakdown of how Moneywise readers watch TV.

Moneywise users rate traditional TV channels over online subscriptions


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Your para on Freeview implies other providers might not need a TV licence. However, everyone in UK has to pay TV licence to watch any form of TV. Any subscriptions (Virgin, Sky, Netflix etc) are in addition to the compulsory TV Licence, and are stuffed with advertising.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I use Freeview, as I am not prepared to pay the exorbitant rates for pay per view. A third of us viewers are Old Age Pensioners and cannot afford to pay for Sky Etc., I tried Virgin and found their Broadband very poor and was astounded to find I only had around 30 free Channels and was expected to pay for all other Channels including some that were free on Freeview. Tell your viewers to make sure they know what they are signing up to on TV packages !! I am extremely annoyed that the BBC has lost so much Sport, such as Golf, Cricket, Formula 1, when we were promised that they would NOT give up any of the major sports to Pay TV. I love watching Golf, Formula 1, among others that we have lost, do'nt the Beeb realise, that most of their daytime TV watchers are 'Old Age Pensioners' who love to watch Cricket Etc., ? Regards Peter J Newbey.

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