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Recession to hit U.K. pay TV hard

Subscribers will downgrade, cancel

The global credit crunch looks set to impact Blighty’s pay TV market, dominated by News Corp’s BSkyB and rival Virgin Media, according to a London-based research firm.

Continental Research, which specializes in tailor-made studies for a variety of clients, found that a quarter of the 1,022 people who took part in an online survey are considering either downgrading their subscription packages or canceling them.

But in tough times, not all services will suffer.

Continental found that 15% of those surveyed have turned to Freeview, the digital terrestrial platform that only requires the initial outlay for a set-top receiver, while 13% plan to get it in the next year because they are worried about the economic outlook.

Tim Barber, associate director of Continental, said: “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.

“What is interesting about this research is that it suggests that many people are looking to further save money by cutting back on their monthly subscriptions for additional TV channels and services.”

Video-on-demand offers like the BBC iPlayer also could thrive in a challenging economy.

“With new ways of watching TV available, the credit crunch could be the impetus that causes a significant change in people’s viewing behavior,” Barber added.