Netflix and HBO, Sherlock and Broadchurch. They say it’s a new golden age for TV, and that we’ve never had more choice. I kind of agree, but that quality and choice comes at cost.
I’ve always loved TV, so much so that just before I started working at the BBC 12 years ago I found a school book by a five year old me with a page entitled “When I’m 25 I want to…”. You’ve guessed it, I wrote I wanted to work at the BBC. Or something to do with animals (?!). Anyway I may have moved on from my behind the camera career, but I still love that not-so-box shaped box in my living room.
You can’t really say there’s nothing to watch anymore. If anything there’s too much! But for me the problem is there’s no one-stop-shop.
If I want to watch The Walking Dead (Fox), Better Call Saul (Netflix’s new Breaking Bad spin off), Broadchurch (ITV) and Fortitude (Sky Atlantic) this week, I potentially need to pay separately for four different services.
So is the golden age costing us more cash?
The licence fee is essential
The TV Licence isn’t just for BBC shows. Unless you don’t watch any live TV, and that includes recording on your Sky+, you must have a TV Licence. As bad as *Boredchurch* or Dr Who have become, and as little live TV I do watch, there are some shows, especially sport, which aren’t the same on catch up. So a TV Licence is a minimum.
But the really big shows are all missing.
If you want to watch shows like Sky One’s Modern Family or the “best drama on TV*” ( *according to me) The Walking Dead on Fox, you’ll need to pay for some extra channels on Sky, Virgin, BT or Talk Talk. As long as you don’t add on movie and sport packages, it’s easy to get a decent deal tied in with your broadband so it doesn’t cost too much.
You’re tied to an extra payment every month, but that’s not too bad. Unless you want Sky Atlantic.
Only subscribers to Sky can watch dramas like Game of Thrones, True Detective or Mad Men. That’s a must have for me! Non Sky peeps will have to pay an extra £7 a month for Now TV for these top shows.
Add on the streaming services.
Plenty of people sign up for Amazon Prime or Netflix for the free trials but never get around to cancelling. For £6 each a month, it’s not bad value for one, but if you’re subscribing to both are you really making good use of them? There’s so much to watch it’s impossible.
So what’s the total cost?
Let’s say you get your internet through BT, don’t pay for sports or movies but want all the extra channels and choice. You’ll pay at least £5 a month there on top of your phone and broadband. Netflix (£6), Amazon Prime (£6) and Now TV (£7) bring the total to £24. Over a year that’s a massive £288. Adding on the TV Licence brings it to £433.50, or £36 a month all in.
Is it worth it?
For me, the price isn’t right. And many pay much more than that with extra sport and movies.
But there are plenty of ways you can cut the cost. My total for this year should be less than half that at around £181, or £15 a month all in. Without the licence that’s just £3 a month.
How have I done that?
I’ve got a decent Talk Talk deal which essentially gives me free YouView to record shows. Pre-buying cut price Now TV vouchers at a fraction of the price gives me my premium channels (i.e. Sky Atlantic) for roughly £3 a month.
I *borrow* my sister’s Netflix log in for their big dramas, saving £84 a year. That just leaves Amazon Prime. You’re allowed a free trial every 12 months. Between the two of us, that’s two free trials a year, and we can just binge watch those shows in those months!
I’m pretty happy with what I get for what I pay, and it shows how being clever with your cash doesn’t need to bring tears to your square eyes.