British Viewers Pay Most for Premium Pay TV, Says Ofcom Report
LONDON – British viewers who want premium content pay TV -- think soccer and Hollywood movies -- pay more than anyone else for the privilege, according to a report released on Thursday.
The media regulator Ofcom, in its ninth annual international communications market report, detailed that U.K. viewers pay north of $100 (£66) a month for the "best offer" premium pay TV subscription -- defined as including the "best package of top league football" as well as films and high definition TV.
That subscription is more than double the $44 German viewers are asked to stump up for the same level of content.
Of the six nations compared by Ofcom, the U.K. landed at number one in the cost rankings, with Spain ranked second at $80 (£49), followed by the U.S. at $77 (£47), Italy at $66 (£40) and France at $57 (£35), according to Ofcom's extensive report collated from figures from July 2013, a month before the start of the Premier League soccer season.
The arrival of BT Sport in the U.K. market will be closely scrutinized to see if it results in better deals for the consumer as it takes on BSkyB, the satellite operator in which Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has a 39 percent stake. Next year's Ofcom report will likely offer data on the subject.
Ofcom's report is quick to point out that for basic TV packages, the U.K. is second only to Italy in terms of being the cheapest at getting a good deal on basic pay TV packages, at $26 (£16) a month.
The report also underlines that comparing the value-for-money element of pay TV deals between countries is not straightforward. For example, British pay TV subscribers receive 410 channels in their premium package, Germans get half of that and most of the other countries surveyed have access to a quarter.
Across all pay TV services, the U.K. was the second most expensive country surveyed.
But Ofcom also reported that mobile and broadband services are cheaper for Brit consumers than across continental Europe and the U.S. with the competitive U.K. cell market, with a large number of virtual operators, such as retail giant Tesco, cited as helping boost the number of offers.
"Consumers are are not just benefiting from cheaper deals. They are also getting much more for less, as the quality and range of telecoms services has expanded hugely," said Ofcom director of research James Thickett.