A new survey carried out by broadband provider Pure Telecom, finds that 55% of TV licence holders aged 30 and under are planning to, or considering, stopping payment of their licence due to increased viewing of online content.
Back in May of this year, proposed plans to extend the annual €160 TV licence fee to owners of devices over 12 inches in size were scrapped when Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, claimed that the scheme would be too costly and too difficult to enforce.
It appears that the plans, which were proposed in response to the public’s changing viewing habits as well as to similar changes made over in the UK, were ditched prematurely, as this new data suggests that more and more people are abandoning traditional TV in favour of viewing content online through streaming services.
Viewing habits are changing for good
The survey found that currently, the average consumer spends 6 hours 36 minutes watching streamed or online content each week. This trend is even more pronounced with younger audiences, with those aged 30 and under consuming 8 hours 47 minutes of online video per week.
The research found that people living in Donegal are the heaviest consumers of streamed and online content, watching 10 hours 18 minutes each week. That is followed by those living in Meath (9 hours 13 minutes) and Galway (7 hours 53 minutes). Those living in Cavan spend the least time on streaming sites, watching only 3 hours 12 minutes per week.
The TV licence loophole
Under the current law, any household with a TV set is required to pay the €160 licence fee, however, the charge does not apply to those who view all their video content via laptops, tablets or smartphones - and many are taking full advantage of this loophole.
Pure Telecom’s research found that in total, 43% of Irish TV licence holders are planning to, or considering, ditching their TV licence solely due to an increase in online viewing. The research found that one-in-10 Irish adults have already stopped paying the TV licence, rising to 17% in the 30 and under age group.
Maybe don’t ditch the TV set just yet...
Given that so many quality, competitively priced, online content streaming platforms have become available in the last number of years including Netflix, Amazon Prime, Volta and Sky’s latest offering NOW TV (not to mention all of the great free TV network online players like RTE Player, TV3 Player and Channel 4’s All 4) it’s not surprising that people are turning to the internet rather than traditional TV providers to watch telly.
That being said, it can’t be ignored that by ceasing to pay your TV licence fee you are also forfeiting the legal right to watch that content on your TV set and you’ll be confined to watching content on your laptop, tablet or phone - screens which are more often than not, a lot smaller than an actual TV set. This might be a reasonable solution for some, but for many, a smaller screen diminishes the overall viewing experience. Do you really want to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the weeny 5-inch screen of your phone, for example?
Smart TVs which allow you to access apps like Netflix, meaning that you can stream online content on your TV set and if you don’t have a smart TV you can turn your regular set into one pretty easily using a plug-in streaming media player. We wrote about a few of our favourite ones a few weeks ago.
So, if online streaming is your thing, and you love your big TV set; ditching the TV package contract might be a better option to save money rather than ditching the TV licence - here at bonkers.ie we’d be reluctant to say goodbye to our TV sets just yet!
One thing’s for sure, you’ll need a decent broadband connection
Of course, the driving reason behind the rise in popularity of online streaming services, apart from price and content availability, is the widespread accessibility to high-speed broadband connections; if you’re going to stream and binge-watch an entire TV series, you’re going to need a broadband connection that can handle it.
Commenting on the findings of their survey, Paul Connell, CEO of Pure Telecom, said: “The quality of content produced for online platforms has been steadily rising to the point where it is now at least on par with – and in many cases it outshines – what is offered on traditional television channels.
“As people become increasingly reliant on Internet-driven content, we are committed to providing a lower cost, fast and reliable home broadband service that is essential to delivering high-quality viewing experiences for our customers.”
As always, don’t forget to compare
If you’re interested in watching more online content and you’re in the market for a new broadband contract, before you decide on any provider, make sure that you have compared deals to make sure that you are on the best plan for your needs. For instance, there’s no point in signing up for a competitively priced deal if they can’t deliver on speed! Find your best broadband deal on bonkers.ie now.