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End of the television?

TV providers scramble to offer the best deals as many people are ditching TV sets for laptops, by Christian McCashin.

Modern TV viewers are shunning the box’ more and more in favour of online streaming, box sets and catch-up services.

And many are even ditching TVs altogether and switching to their laptops.

Nearly a quarter of TV viewers - 23%-said they watch programmes via the web or different broadcast services as well as on a traditional TV set, according to a recent Television audience Measurement Ireland study.

A broadcaster price comparison company even said a third of its own staff don't own a TV, and as TV providers scramble to come up with new offerings to keep viewers engaged, Dermott Jewell, of the Consumers' Association of Ireland, said it is the perfect opportunity for consumers to take advantage" of the "cut-throat' market and snap up some great deals.

There is such strong competition between the different providers to grow their market share that a high speed broadband-only service can now be snapped up for as less than €500 a year, while TV, phone and broadband packages start at less than €700 for a year.

In the past month alone, there was the launch of Sky Cinema, the announcement for eir sport, and Virgin Media's acquisition of UTV Ireland.

Simon Moynihan, of switching service bonkers.ie, said a straw poll revealed that a third of their staff doesn't have a TV and use computers and tablets instead.

‘You can get pay-per-view items on Youtube, for example," he said. "If you're an eir broadband customer you can get eir sport for free and you can watch via the web or if you have Sky TV and eir broadband they will set it up so you can watch those channels for free."

Even without signing up to a broadband or TV package, viewers can access the Saorview digital service, which offers nine channels free to-air. The broadcast distributor also offers a combi package, which includes UK channels and increases the total number to 100 channels.

And while companies are fighting to offer the best deals, Mr Jewell said it is a great time to grab interesting deals.

“There are some great deals out there at the moment. The long established companies are moving heaven and earth to try and retain and hold on to the customers they have," he said.

“In the run-up to Christmas, the TV providers in particular are going to come up with some offers to try and outdo each other."

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