One in four people have no idea what they're paying for TV

How can you be sure you’re on the right TV deal when you don't know what you pay or what you get?

A young family watching television

We don't know what we're paying for TV, we're confused about the way packages are priced, and we're failing to watch the vast majority of the channels we're forking out for.

Millions of people pay for TV services in the UK. Unfortunately we've had it for so long, and the packages have changed so many times since we first bought them, that we're not entirely sure what we have - and what we're paying for it.

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It doesn't help that the providers have such a huge range of packages - ranging from £20 to £80 a month. Then there are sign-up fees, installation charges and regular hikes in TV service and line rental charges to factor in. Plus there's the fact that you could easily be paying a very different price for the same package as your next door neighbour - depending on when you signed up.

To add insult to injury, Sky TV, Virgin Media and BT have all raised their prices at least once in the past year. BT recently announced price rises for both its broadband and line rental and from April will begin charging customers £3.50 a month for BT Sport, the second hike in less than a year. Sky also raised its prices by up to £72 a year in 2016 and more recently raised the cost of its line rental, while Virgin Media raised prices by up to £42 a year last November.

A study by Freesat found that 32% of people paying for TV were confused about the pricing structure. As a result one in four don't know what they are actually paying for. What is clear is that two thirds of people agree that they are paying for content that's of no interest to them.

What can you do?

It's a useful reminder that we all need to get to grips with what we're paying - and what we're getting in return. Dig out the paperwork, or call your provider, and run through it all very carefully, so you have an accurate picture of your package and its price.

Once you know where you stand, it's time to think long and hard whether you are getting enough value out of your spend. One option is to keep a diary of what you are watching. What are your must-watch programmes, and what channel are they on? How often are you watching sport or movies?

Once you know what you're using, you can investigate whether there's a cheaper way to get access to your programmes. Recent Sky TV viewing figures, for example, show that 99% of the most popular shows with the service's customers were all aired on free channels. So check what channels you would need to keep watching your favourites.

For films, there are a growing number of on-demand services - from Netflix to Amazon Prime and Now TV - which could meet your needs for a lower price. Alternatively there's Freesat, a subscription-free satellite service offering more than 200 TV and radio channels.

Even if you watch sport that is only available on paid-for-TV, think about how often you watch it, and whether you would be better off with a daily or occasional monthly pass from NOW TV.

There's no right answer - just the one that's right for you. But at the very least we all should know what we're paying and what we're getting for our money.

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