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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Speiser

Point Topic's UK TV and Broadband Services Quarterly Research

Since March 2022, Point Topic has commissioned YouGov to conduct surveys on the take-up of bundles TV services, fibre to the home/premises (FTTH/P) access amongst subscribers, the impact of TV/streaming services on consumer decision-making, take-up of broadband packages by tier speeds, Internet service provider (ISP) market shares, ISP churn rates, along with consumers' propensities to change ISPs for bespoke bundled TV and broadband services. This market research provides insight into the UK consumer's pay-TV and broadband consumption and preferences in the context of an increasingly competitive full fibre network provider sector with a wealth of online video and TV content offerings readily available.


Fieldwork research carried out online by YouGov on behalf of Point Topic. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+):


  • 8-9 November 2022 - Total sample size, 2033 adults.

  • 1-2 March 2023 - Total sample size, 2099 adults.

  • 5-6 June 2023 - Total sample size, 2041 adults.

  • 8-11 September 2023.  Total sample size, 2058 adults.

  • 11-12 December 2023. Total sample size, 2062 adults.

Please note that the results reported are representative of Q4 2022, Q1 2023, Q2 2023, Q3 2023, and Q4 2023.  Where datasets are missing for certain quarters this will be due to the nature of the survey questions put forth to the participants. Point Topic has created each survey question set with uniformity in mind, however, given the nature of the marketplace, questions have been altered on a quarterly basis accordingly. When referring to FTTH/P[1] statistics in this report the results have been filtered to those respondents who have indicated they are subscribing to a full fibre broadband connection.

 

Key findings

  • 47.2% of survey respondents were on a ‘perceived’ FTTP broadband connection up from 42.8% in the previous quarter;

  • Technology jargon still proving elusive for consumers with 26.1% of respondents not knowing which type of broadband access technology they were using;

  • BT, Virgin Media, and Sky still dominate the marketplace, but ‘Other’[2] full fibre ISPs are gaining ground with a 12.2% share in Q4, up from 7.3% y-o-y.

  • Take-up of a TV/video and broadband bundled service was down from 39.1% in the previous quarter, but showed an improvement from 34.3% y-o-y, but it still holds sway with consumers when looking to change providers;

  • Virgin remained the most popular ISP amongst survey participants throughout the year with 38.6% of respondents in Q4 taking what they believe to be an FTTP-supplied bundled service;

  • 25 – 100 Mbps speed tier packages regardless of via FTTP or non-FTTP connection remained the most popular for both standalone or bundled services.

 

‘Full fibre’ and gigabit-capable technology take-up

At the end of Q4 2023, 80%[3] of the UK had access to gigabit-capable broadband services and the overall FTTP coverage was 18.7m premises (58.4% of the UK total), up by 15.4% year-on-year.[4]   We asked survey participants,  ‘For the following question, by 'full-fibre to the home (FTTH)' we mean broadband technology which uses fibre connections directly into the home, offering higher speeds. Is your MAIN home broadband service full-fibre to the home (FTTH) technology?’


Nearly half (47.2%) of survey respondents were subscribing to what they believed to be an FTTP service up from 42.8% in the previous quarter and 36.8% y-o-y .  However, around a quarter (26.1%, down 2 ppts from Q3 and 35.5% y-o-y) still do not know what broadband access technology they are using.  See Figure 1 below for survey respondents’ take-up to FTTP services since Q4 2022.

 


These figures are inline with Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2023 report which stated that up to May 2023, take-up of services over gigabit-capable broadband networks, as a proportion where they are available increased to 42%, with full fibre take-up reaching 28%.[5]  


However, it should be noted that survey respondents who stated that they subscribed to a Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) ‘full fibre’ service are likely being served by its predominately DOCSIS 3.1 cable network that covers around 16.7m premises with its FTTP network footprint covering around 3.6m premises.

 

VMO2, BT, and Sky ticking the consumers’ boxes, but smaller players making headway


As with overall consumer fixed-line broadband market trends, the top three major players – BT, VMO2, and Sky – were the main suppliers of FTTP services to survey respondents.  Figures 2 and 3 below provide a comparison by ISP of take-up to FTTP packages along with total market shares by provider for all types of access technologies as reported by survey respondents.



*BT Group includes BT Consumer, EE, and Plusnet

**Virgin Media O2’s gigabit-capable connectivity is delivered through DOCSIS 3.1 and FTTH/P technologies

†Others include figures for Hyperoptic, KCOM, Shell Energy Broadband and ‘Other’


VMO2 and BT remained nearly on par in terms of FTTP market shares amongst consumers over the past several quarters, but VMO2 topped the table with 30.6% of participants subscribed to what they perceived to be a Virgin ‘FTTP’ service in the fourth quarter.  This is up from 28.8% in the previous quarter but down from 33.9% y-o-y.   


Just over a quarter (25.5%) of respondents were subscribing to a service supplied by BT Group’s main retail brands, i.e. BT Consumer, EE, and Plusnet.  BT Group has shown a solid performance over the year but saw a 5.1% decrease y-o-y.  Which, given the level of overbuild by AltNets, consistently solid performances by other larger players over the past several quarters, will see BT banking on its biggest rebranding and shake-up of its consumer division in a decade - the  ‘New EE’, which will serve as its retail flagship brand. 


However, as displayed in Figure 3, BT Group has dominated over the past year in terms of the total proportion of subscribers amongst survey respondents.  Coming in with an overall average of 31.0% of consumers subscribing to either a copper-based or full fibre service.  This was followed by VMO2 averaging around 21.0% (20.6%) and Sky with 19.8%. 

 

*BT Group includes BT Consumer, EE, and Plusnet

†Others include figures for Hyperoptic, KCOM, Shell Energy Broadband and ‘Other’


Sky, who leverages Openreach’s network, remained the third largest FTTP provider with 16.8% of respondents taking full fibre service, but its growth remained static y-o-y and only increased by 1 ppt in the quarter.  Considering the cost of living crisis and that Sky remains toward the higher end of the pricing scale, its unique TV offerings and premium content have helped to stabilise its performance in a challenging sector.


‘Other’ full fibre ISPs, which include Hyperoptic, KCOM, Shell Energy Broadband, and numerous smaller AltNets, had a static performance q-o-q coming in at 12.2% down from 12.4%, but up from 7.3% y-o-y.   These suppliers also saw an increase of 2 ppts y-o-y in overall market shares with 11.6% in Q4 2023.


Vodafone, which promotes itself as ‘the UK’s largest full fibre provider with speeds of up to 910 Mbps’[6] due to reselling agreements with both CityFibre and Openreach, saw its FTTP share increase to 7.4% up from 4.6% in Q3 2023 and 3.6% y-o-y.   It averaged an overall market share of 6.1% throughout the year for all technology accesses.


Amongst our survey respondents, TalkTalk’s FTTP share declined from 7.8% in Q3 to 6.1% in Q4 and down from 6.5% in Q4 2022.  It averaged a 7.7% total market share of all technology accesses as it struggled with a turbulent year in its Consumer Direct fixed-line segment whilst it continues to grapple to get its ~£1bn mountain of debt in order[7].   


Only 1.6% of respondents did not know who their ‘perceived’ FTTP provider was, which is up from 1.1% in the previous quarter, but down from 1.4% at the close of Q4 2022.  The total fixed-line segment had a similar trend with 2.6% of participants not knowing which ISP they subscribed to up from 1.9% q-o-q, but down from  6.2% y-o-y.

 

Take-up of bundled broadband and TV services Q4 2022 – Q4 2023

With an unprecedented amount of TV/video content, subscription video on demand (SVOD) and free ad-supported TV channel streaming services available across several platforms are consumers swayed by taking a bundled service?   


In short, yes. Having a curated TV/video and broadband service still holds an appeal to more than a third of our survey participants.  In Q4 2023, 38.3% of survey participants subscribed to a bundled service compared to 52.1% who did not.  Take-up of a bundled service was down from 39.1% in the previous quarter but showed an improvement from 34.3% y-o-y.  Q2 2023 saw the strongest uptake amongst respondents with 42.7% subscribed to a bundled service (see Figure 4 below).

 


 

VMO2 dominating bundled TV/video and ‘full fibre’ broadband services


Distilling the data down even further by those respondents who were taking a bundled service with a ‘perceived’ FTTP connection, VMO2 remained the most popular ISP amongst survey participants throughout the year (Figure 5) with 38.6% of respondents in Q4 2023 taking what they believe to be an FTTP-supplied bundled service. 

 


*BT Group includes BT Consumer, EE, and Plusnet

**Virgin Media O2’s gigabit-capable connectivity is delivered through DOCSIS 3.1 and FTTH/P technologies

†Others include figures for Hyperoptic, KCOM, Shell Energy Broadband and ‘Other’


VMO2 offers consumers the option of a traditional satellite dish or cable-based TV 360 service along with its IPTV-based flexible monthly rolling contract Stream service which was launched in Q2 2022. Both services sell premium Sky TV channels including entertainment and sports packages. 


VMO2 and Sky have marked their firm shift away from traditional satellite or cable-based TV services[8], over the past several years, essentially serving as aggregators of other streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and free TV channel services.  The launch of Sky Glass (all-in-one smart TV and streaming service) back in 2021, followed by its no so originally named Stream Wi-Fi-based service in Q3 2022, marked the clear shift within the market to IPTV. 


Table 1 below provides an overview of bundled entry level FTTP speed tiers and TV/video pricing for the top five providers as of Q4 2023 and shows that there is little between them in terms of service extras for the consumer.

*Virgin Media O2’s gigabit-capable connectivity is delivered through DOCSIS 3.1 and FTTH/P technologies

With all providers offering relatively the same TV service – mostly through agreements with Sky and its sister-brand NOW, budget-savvy consumers will most likely be cherry-picking their TV/video content services that are easy to cancel and do not leave them locked into lengthy contracts.


Faster speed tiers also appear to be a hard sell for ISPs as many consumers see FTTC superfast speeds of up to 100 Mbps being more than capable of supporting a typical household’s bandwidth demands.

 

TV and broadband bundled services speed tiers, FTTP versus non-FTTP

During Q2 and Q3 2023, we asked respondents, ‘What broadband speed package do you subscribe to?’.  Table 2 below shows that the majority of consumers subscribed to a broadband service with downlink speeds between 25 Mbps – 100 Mbps regardless of the access technology. 

 


However, worth noting is that over a quarter of participants whether taking an FTTP or non-FTTP package did not know which speed tier they were on.  Our latest figures showed that 29.5% of Q3 2023 respondents on an FTTP service were unaware of their speed compared with 27.0% taking a copper-based service.


We see a similar picture when distilling this data even further.  Looking at the speed tiers for those respondents who knew they were subscribing to a bundled TV and broadband package that was not via FTTP technology nearly half (46.2%) were on a superfast tier.

 


Amongst our respondents there was a 4 ppt increase over the two quarters in 101 Mbps+ bundled packages going from 11.0% to 14.9% respectively.  In Q2 2023, 60.1% of respondents subscribing to the faster speed tiers were taking a service from VMO2, compared to 46.0% of those in the following quarter.

 

Opportunity for ISPs to secure new subscribers with right curated TV and broadband bundles

With consumers becoming more budget-conscious and ISPs dealing with higher overall operational expenditure, the fixed-line broadband and TV market has become a challenging place for operators to see a return on investment and higher ARPUs.  However, there is some manoeuvrability for ISPs to capitalise on bundled packages if they can strike the balance of being a reduced-price premium content aggregator.


We asked survey participants, ‘Imagine that a broadband provider was to offer you all/most of the video channels you would like to watch as a bundled subscription, with one bill covering all of the services and devices you use.  How likely, if at all, would you be to change broadband provider to receive the above bundle?’

 


Despite nearly half (48.9%) of participants in the Q4 2023 survey stating they would be unlikely to change, 33.1% (up from 30.6% y-o-y) would be likely to consider the move.  In the same quarter, 18.0% were unsure or did not know, down from 23.0% in the previous year. 

However, ISPs attempting to increase their bundled subscriber base will have an uphill battle and will need to offer huge incentives along the lines of tariff price freezes and inclusive subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) subscriptions. 


According to Barb’s latest Establishment Survey for Q4 2023, 18.8m UK homes (65.4%) had access to a SVOD service in Q4 2023, a decrease from 19.3m (67.3%) in Q3 2023[9].  The top SVOD services (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, and Paramount+) all saw quarterly decreases in UK household penetration, as consumers reigned in their spending and opted for ‘free’ on demand services provided by BBC iPlayer, All4, and ITVX.


The UK TV/video content marketplace has become saturated with choice and SVOD suppliers will also be navigating the same challenging conditions as ISPs.  Strategic agreements amongst studios and the sharing of previously-exclusive content across SVOD providers will make the streaming market a treasure trove of content for the consumer, but how ISPs act as stand-out aggregators of these services will prove challenging.

 

Influence of TV/video content on consumers changing ISPs

To gauge ISP churn rates along with the influence of TV/video content on consumers’ predilection to change ISP we asked, ‘Have you/your household changed your MAIN broadband service provider in the last 6 months?’ 


Table 3 below demonstrates that although an overwhelming majority of participants have not changed provider quarterly from Q4 2022 – Q4 2023, there has been nearly a 5% increase y-o-y for those that have.


For those participants who had changed provider we then asked, ‘On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "did not influence my decision making at all" and 5 being "completely influenced my decision making", how much, if at all, did a broadband service provider offering a bundled TV service influence your decision to change providers?’


Gaining ISPs offering a curated and affordable bundled TV and broadband service did hold sway for consumers throughout the year as per Figure 8 below.


Overall, 30% of respondents stated that TV offerings had a significant influence on their decision-making, with 24% stating that it completely influenced their choice.  Twenty-three per cent felt that it had a moderate influence, with 8% felt it made very little impact, and 16% stated it had no influence at all when choosing their new service provider.


Survey results demonstrate a receptive marketplace, with consumers seeing TV content as something worth budgeting for.  ISPs seeking a return on their huge network investments through full fibre uptake need to get their entry level 101 Mbps+ full fibre speed tiers pricing right whilst offering discounted and bespoke TV/video services.  There is still a receptive marketplace with subscribers who see TV services as an integral household item and are willing to pay that little bit extra to have a curated video and broadband service.  


For the complete data set on all of the surveys carried out please contact us at isabelle.anderson@point-topic.com for more information.


 

[1] We define full fibre networks and connectivity as being fixed broadband connections using fibre optic technology directly to the home (FTTH), premises (FTTP) or building (FTTB).  For brevity, we will be using FTTP and ‘ full fibre’ interchangeably to denote FTTP/H/B variants.

[2] Other ISPs included in the survey results are Hyperoptic, KCOM, Shell Energy Broadband, along with numerous smaller local or regional AltNets.

[5] Ofcom, Connected Nations 2023, 19 December 2023.

[6] Vodafone, Home Broadband, as of 9 February 2024.

[8] VMO2’s website terms and conditions stated on 28 December 2023 that, ‘TV 360 and home phone not currently available in 2023/24 network expansion areas.’

 

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