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.

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