Premium TV takes a hit from credit crunch

Survey shows 18% plan to cut spending on channels

LONDON -- The credit crunch is likely to see people switching off premium television and tuning in to free television, according to research published Tuesday.

An online survey of more than 1,000 people conducted by Continental Research indicates that 18% "plan to reduce their spending on TV channels" in the next 12 months.

And 6% have now decided not to sign up to additional services as a direct result of concerns about the economic slowdown.

The results, published in a report titled "TV 3.0: The Digital and Internet TV Report," are bad news for subscription-based TV channels, which are already taking a financial hit from declining advertising revenue.

In this environment, Freeview comes out as a real hit with cash-strapped TV fans. 15% have already got Freeview as a result of their concerns about an economic downturn, and 13% plan to get it in the next year for the same reason.

"One of the truisms about how consumers respond to a challenging economy is that they go out less and, therefore, by implication spend more time at home, watching TV," Continental Research associate director Tim Barber said.

But he said it shows that "many people are looking to save money yet further by cutting back on their monthly subscriptions for additional TV channels and services."

He added that the research suggests that Freeview is going to benefit from consumer worries about the credit crunch at the expense of some of the paid-for services.

"With new ways of watching TV now available, the credit crunch could actually be the impetuous that causes a significant change in peoples' viewing behavior," Barber said.
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