A massive 65% of paid customers watch less than a quarter of the TV channels they pay for, even though the standard cost for basic TV packages is over €350 each year and more elaborate plans are closer to €1,000 per year. Irish paid TV customers have an average of 155 channels, but the majority (65%) watch less than a quarter of what they pay for, according to new research from independent price comparison service, Switcher.ie.

The findings suggest that households could be shelling out for services that they barely use. A standard TV package ranges from over €350 to €1,000 a year, but just 2% of customers say they watch more than three-quarters of the channels they pay for, while one in ten (9%) watch between half and three-quarters.

Despite this, Ireland is still a nation of avid TV watchers. The average consumer watches 13 hours per week, while 21% watch 21 hours or more of TV every week. This suggests that people are returning to the same channels again and again, indicating that the TV packages they pay for might not be the right ones for their viewing habits or needs.

In terms of how we watch, live TV is still prominent, with two in 42% watching the majority of our TV this way. Almost a quarter (21%) mainly watch free-to-air TV. At the same time, habits are clearly changing, with one in five saying the majority of TV they watch is recorded onto a set-top box.

Recent innovations are also gaining ground; one in ten (11%) now watch most TV via streaming services like Netflix and 5% say they mostly watch free streaming services, like the RTÉ or TV3 players. The findings show that the majority of Irish consumers use multi-room viewing (65%), and pause, rewind, record functionality (58%) on a daily basis. One in four say they watch free box sets with their TV package every day, while one in five watch catch-up TV daily.

Eoin Clarke, managing director of Switcher.ie, said: “These findings confirm that watching TV remains one of our favourite past-times. New technologies and enhanced TV packages mean that we are enjoying greater control and choice than ever before, but not everyone is making the most out of it or getting real value for money. While it’s all well and good having a TV package with hundreds of channels, if you always find yourself watching the same few shows, it could be time to review your options.

“Everyone knows the annoyance of trudging through dozens of channels and still feeling like there’s nothing on. Going from a bells and whistles package to a more basic offering could save you hundreds of euro, and some providers also offer free Netflix for the first six months of your TV contract, or cashback when you sign up.

“If you’re happy with fewer channels, another option would be to consider free-to-air TV. You’ll need some equipment – like an aerial and set-top box – and there are set up costs involved, but you won’t have any ongoing subscription fees. If you don’t want to downgrade your TV plan, try to make the most of the freebies available with your current package.

“Many providers now have apps which allow you to tune in or set recordings on the move, and several providers also offer on-demand and exclusive content for their subscribers, which can be a real value-add. The key thing is not to just sit back, if you’re paying for a service, make sure you are getting the best value-for-money that you can.” For more information, visit Switcher.ie.