Tesco launches free Clubcard TV: what's the catch?

Clubcard TV

Last night Tesco launched Clubcard TV. Clubcard holders can get free access to 500 movies and 1,700 TV programmes, which can all be streamed direct to your television. The launch featured films ranging from the Shawshank Redemption to Oceans Eleven, and TV programmes included The Only Way is Essex and Doc Martin.

It's all completely free - forever - so what's the catch?


You cannot knock the TV service itself. There's genuinely no cost, and the next 2,200 times you think there's nothing in particular to watch on TV you can opt for a film or TV programme on demand without having to pay for a subscription or a downloading fee.

Clearly these aren't the newest releases out there, or the hottest TV programmes, but there will be plenty for a wet Wednesday evening.

Michael Comish, CEO of Tesco Digital Entertainment, said: "Clubcard TV offers a whole world of free entertainment for all the family. It makes digital entertainment easy and accessible for our customers."

There will be new content added all the time, and there are plans to extend the service to a range of devices including games consoles, tablets, Smart TVs, Blu-ray players and set top boxes.

This is great in itself, but also raises the possibility that other subscription deals will be forced to raise their game in order to compete - and make a chunk of their programming free too.


If you're wondering what's in it for Tesco, it was an area where Tesco was always destined to go when it bought 80% of video-on-demand company Blinkbox in April 2011.

The company clearly believes that in future everything will be digital, so rather than just watch DVD and CD sales dwindle to nothing, it has put itself at the forefront of the future of how we consume media.

The tricky part was working out how to make money from it, but Tesco has cracked this too. And this is the part where we come to the catch.

The catch

There's a reason why you need to be a Clubcard holder in order to access the service. Cornish explains: "The reason we can offer great programming for free is because customers will see relevant advertising before and during the movie or TV show they are watching. We'll use Clubcard data to tell us what might be relevant for our customers and therefore help us deliver a more personalised service."

And what it means by 'more personalised' is 'more likely to get you to spend money'. One of the launch advertisers is Kellogg's. If you regularly buy products from Kellogg's, then the chances are that by showing an advert for a new cereal before the a kid's film they will get you and the kids considering a purchase.

You can be targeted with adverts for things which are slightly more expensive than the version you currently buy, or to buy more of the range.


Even if you are immune to the power of advertising, the other cost is that the supermarket could be collecting data about you and your viewing habits. The company said in a statement: "Customers will have an opportunity to shape Clubcard TV by providing feedback both on content and additional features they would like to see added."

It means that if you provide this feedback, Tesco could know when you're most likely to have a family cinema night, or a 'girl's night in', whether it makes you more likely to buy popcorn or pizza, what they can sell you on those specific days, and when you are more likely to be tempted to indulge.

There are plenty of people who aren't worried by these things: they'd like to know if there's a deal on to suit them. However, there are others who worry that this data is all to readily available, and they don't want a large corporation knowing their business.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

10 consumer rights you should know
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Tesco launches free Clubcard TV: what's the catch?

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.


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