LONDON: Ill tidings for Virgin Media and BSkyB, the US-controlled duopoly that dominates the UK's pay-TV industry. A study (TV 3.0: The Digital and Internet TV Report) published Wednesday by Continental Research, indicates that one in five Britons intend to dull their economic pain by spending less on pay-TV. 

The study surveyed a representative sample of 1,022 adult Britons in August, 18% of whom plan to reduce spending on TV services over the next twelve months' while a further 6% do not intend to subscribe to additional services, such as movie and sports channels.

Comments Continental Research associate director Tim Barber: "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 many people are looking to save money yet further by cutting back on their monthly subscriptions for additional TV channels and services." 

But the credit crunch and looming recession are not the only factors that have reversed the trend toward subscription-TV.

Another major influence is the rise and rise of the subscription-free Freeview digital platform, which at the end of 2007, had 16.7 million installations in UK homes. It is owned and run by five shareholders: the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Arqiva and (paradoxically) BSkyB. 

And the duopoly now face another serious competitor, FreeSat, jointly owned by the BBC and ITV, which launched in May and now offers over 130 subscription-free digital TV and radio channels, some with high definition programmes.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff