Life without Satellite or Cable TV

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This month our contract with Sky a UK satellite TV provider comes to an end. We have now decided to cancel and although I am a huge TV fan, I am excited for life after Satellite TV.

Before the broadband and On Demand explosion the only way to watch a lot of good TV seemed to be through Satellite and Cable, but sadly for those in that business those days are over. I think Satellite and Cable TV is no longer a must have and that it is a convenience purchase more than anything now.

Lots of options

We live in a world now where there are so many boxes and sticks you can plug in to your TV to access a range of content with no subscription required. There are also a range of TVs which have internet, streaming and On Demand built in and then there is the old fashioned way of just putting a HDMI cable in to your laptop to connect it to the TV, which works just as well for the cost of a few pounds for a cable on Amazon.

I am a subscriber to Netflix, which I can watch on the TV and not only this but I can watch a host of On Demand services from various channels as well through the TV. So although I will lose out on some programmes and content, I have enough so I won’t get bored. Then if all else fails there is always Freeview if I want to watch TV in the traditional way again, which is something I rarely do these days.

For those that are less scrupulous than I, I am sure there are many non-legal ways out there on the Internet as well to watch other content you normally have to pay to view. Not only this but most streaming platforms security is weak so allows many log-ins at the same time from one account, so friends and family can share accounts so that not everyone has to pay for it.

A bit of work

I enjoy the features Sky has like live pause, record and series link but these features aren’t enough to keep me and by doing a bit of work myself I can get round these issues. I just have to wait to watch things On Demand and make sure I watch things in a certain time period before they disappear from the On Demand service.

So my advice this week is – if you want to save money, try living without Satellite or Cable, I think you will be surprised how much TV you will continue to watch and how little you will pay.

Getting the best out of the Internet and TV revolution

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My wife and I are always looking at ways in which we can make our money work harder for us. One thing we both recently did is move away from our iPhones. When we both recently had to upgrade we chose phones that did everything we would want but at a fraction of the monthly cost, saving us a good £40 per month and £480 per year. That money would afford us a brilliant holiday, a home improvement or many other great things.

Cutting ties

Now we have cut our ties with our iPhones we are starting to look at our TV and Internet packages. Our contracts are up in January with our current provider and we are determined to move away to lower our costs. We are currently with Sky because my wife and I are big sports fans, so we got it for the football and the F1 mainly. Since we have been with Sky however they have lost a lot of sporting rights and prices have continued to go up.

So the first thing we are looking at doing is getting our Internet and TV possibly through two different providers. Yes there are great deals out there to have them combined but the problem is you are then tied in to both services and if you start having problems with one you have to keep paying for both until your contract ends.

The other thing we are thinking of doing is purchasing a Freeview+ Box or a Youview box. Yes they are expensive but after that upfront cost everything you view is free and you are not tied in to a contract. These boxes also let you pause, rewind and record TV, these are the features my wife and I most love about Sky. Yes these options won’t have all the sport we want but they will have highlights, some games and some races. I remember growing up not having all the sports channels, I just think I got too used to having them as an adult but now I have realised that I am happy to go back to not having them.

Options

An exciting development is that there are many more specialised streaming options out there at the moment with many media companies having their own subscription service like Netflix so you can buy smaller packages, which are more closely tied to your interests. For instance I am a subscriber to the WWE Network, which I watch a lot and I hear other big players are following suit soon like Disney. I would rather pay for 3 or 4 four small subscriptions to things I like rather than one subscription to 200 channels, most of which I have no interest in.

I think its time for us all to become more media savvy. To pay for what we want and not for what we don’t. Don’t just let your contracts roll on month after month, think about what you want and get out of them if you don’t want to be in them. If you want a better deal, make it happen. My advice if you re happy with the service you have but not the price is to ring the provider up and try negotiate a better deal. The market is more competitive than ever and companies want to keep your custom, use this to your advantage.

Selling the game

It’s been a bad news week this week if you are a fan of what many people call the national game of England, that being football (or soccer for my American readers).

The TV rights to screen games from our biggest league ‘The Premiership’ have been sold to Sky and BT for a staggering £5.136bn, which is 71% above the amount they paid for TV rights last time they were sold. Here is a news story about this development:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31379128

The clubs in the leagues are probably rubbing their hands together, as this sale of rights means more money will filter through to the clubs, which will make their balance sheets look healthier give them capital to build stadiums, ability to buy new players and more chances to secure loans or credit.

I think the clubs and the league will be the only winners though. To access football matches legally in the UK through Sky and BT, you either have to have a paid subscription or pay for their other products and services. Both Sky and BT are businesses and need to make money from these deals, so that leaves the fans in a bad place.

The Rich get richer

I’m sure the money the clubs make through these deals will keep some fans happy though, as some will use the increased revenues to buy big name players to excite and entertain their fans. These players will get paid a ridiculous amount of money and may or may not bring success to their club. Whilst the wages of the super rich footballers I’m sure will increase with this deal, I’m sure the average earnings of the fans that pay their money to support them won’t increase at anywhere near the same rate.

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The problem with the TV rights deal is that it starts a domino effect on the money earned and spent by those in the game, as it filters from Sky to the Premier League, then to the clubs and then to the players. People are already speculating that this TV deal may be the catalyst for the record transfer fee and wages for a player to be broken again. Even though the money coming in may be going up, the costs for the TV providers and the clubs I think will be going up significantly in the next 4 years because of it.

Business

Sky and BT will need to claw their outlay back and this is where I think the fans are going to be hit in the pocket. The easiest way for them to do this is by increasing the costs for their subscriptions and to increase the lengths of contracts you have to commit to in order to watch the games.

The next way they will claw their outlay back is through advertising. I think we can expect to see more on screen advertising during games and coverage, more paid for advertising on their online and social media streams, then finally probably more advert breaks or longer advert breaks in the build up, half time and post match.

Open Letter

Last year I blogged my ‘Open Letter’ to the football world which can be seen here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/open-letter-to-football-teams-players-staff-and-tv-companies-that-screen-football-in-the-uk/

Following on from this weeks news, I think this problem that I blogged about last year is only going to get worse. Sky and BT will be more desperate than ever for more advertisers and higher spending advertisers, so all I can see is betting adverts around football increasing.

Aggressive advertising

More betting adverts, more aggressive betting advertising and closer links between TV companies and betting companies will only see more people betting on football, which I think is a problem. Again (as I did in my blog last year) I stress that I am not anti-betting but I think for a good percentage of people that an aggressive advertising assault encouraging them to bet, could lead them in to financial problems and addictions.

We need to remember that it’s the betting companies that make the most from gambling, not the customers. Betting companies, like Sky and BT need to make a profit and for betting companies they will have to make more money to afford price hikes in advertising costs.

Pressure

With more at stake than ever for Sky and BT the pressure to make more money has been increased. The boards and shareholders will want to see returns on their investments and I am sure if these deals aren’t as successful for them as they had hoped, that it could have massive implications on their companies and their staff.

Inflated bubble

To fund what is becoming an ever over inflated bubble it will be the fans that lose out. I think for long-term success it is important to get as many people watching the game as possible, but all I can see long term is people turning away from the game. It won’t happen overnight but if we continue at this rate for the next 20 years, I dread to think what the sport will be like.

Betting and the Beautiful Game

One thing I have noticed a lot this last year is the dangerous world of sport betting and the connection it has with the beautiful game (football or soccer if you are American) in the UK.

It used to be if you wanted to put a bet on a match that you would have to go to a betting shop. Now you have hundreds of free apps at your disposal for your phone, tablet or computer that will let you bet at a push of a button and from the comfort of your own home.

I think this is very dangerous, as now betting has become a convenience thing with no stigma attached to it. With the craze for game apps, has betting online through apps become a new game for some?

Alongside the rise of betting apps has been a rise in the connection between televised football and betting. First it started with betting companies paying for TV adverts around football matches, then it moved to betting companies sponsoring the programmes, now it’s moved to a point where on some games the betting adverts are on the screen when the players come out and you have live odds appearing.

This isn’t just happening for the evening games this is happening for the afternoon kick offs too. Many children and families are watching these games, yet the TV companies seem to care very little. Every year TV companies seem to be pushing the boundaries and finding new ways to advertise gambling as part of the programme, to either increase the money they get from betting companies or to keep their money and not lose them to a competitor.

Throughout any live game you are being enticed to bet. With live odds being shown before kick off and at half time. This is coupled with lots of betting promotions including free bets, cashback and the ability to cash out at any time. Not only do you have all this but you also have a million and one different things you can bet on throughout the game. This is before talking about the fact that you have the ability to bet on practically any game happening anywhere in the world.

The message put across is that betting and football go hand in hand. A message that says betting is part of the experience and will help you enjoy the game more. I remember seeing one betting advert of some lads walking to a football game and they were on their phones putting a bet on and coming home to check how they have done. I have also seen other adverts which are designed to make you laugh and to show that betting is great fun, are these messages we want our children to hear?

Not only are TV channels tightly linked to betting firms, lots of football clubs are too through sponsorship. First we have shirt sponsorship, then we have constant adverts on club websites and their social media feeds. Football clubs are supported by many families, with most clubs seemingly wanting to attract the family market and this is why it is dangerous. Now any 13 year old kid with access to the internet can see that the club they support, supports gambling and is encouraging their fans to do so. Betting on your team is now seen as a way to show your support and your allegiance.

If smoking and alcohol were promoted this excessively around football programming people would be up in arms but for something which can be equally addictive and bad for your health no one seems to care.

Football is a game which can capture the imagination and bring such a feel good factor. It is a game where clubs want to build allegiances with its fans in a band of brothers sort of way, but if the clubs really cared about their fans why would they want to risk their financial and mental wellbeing? To me that doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do.

I think the rise of betting sponsorship shows that the TV companies and football clubs will put their revenue streams ahead of their viewers and fans, whom without they couldn’t do what they do, as no fans means no business.