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Saga Voices – Let’s talk…television

Rachel Carlyle / 03 August 2022

Each month our insight team conducts an in-depth poll of Saga customers. This month: what we’re watching.

TV with Only Fools and Horses on the screen

Saga customers enjoy a goggle at the box more than ever – even if you’re not always thrilled by what’s on offer. Our survey of almost 1,300 customers revealed that 45% watch more TV than they did ten years ago – with one in seven saying they watch ‘much more’. Nearly a third (31%) watch more than four hours a day, and 45% watch two to four hours. That’s partly because viewing tends to rise with age and partly Covid, says consumer psychologist Dr Paul Marsden. ‘There’s been a massive uptick in streaming since the pandemic and it hasn’t fallen away.’

When it comes to finding something you want to watch, the youngest fared better than the oldest, only 47% of whom said they could usually find something they were happy with. Saga’s TV editor Benjie Goodhart isn’t surprised. ‘I worked in TV for 25 years and there was an obsession with chasing the 18-35-year-old ABC1 demographic, who were seen as the group with the most disposable income. I think to an extent that hasn’t changed, even though we are all living longer and the “grey pound” is stronger than ever.’

33% have TVs in three rooms or more

Benjie believes we’re in a golden era of TV, thanks to record investment and the streaming revolution; 86% of Saga customers use streaming services, with BBC iPlayer the most widely watched (76%), and Netflix the most popular subscription service (47%). And you’re partial to a binge-watch too, with 77% saying they’ve viewed two or more episodes of a show in one sitting.

To bust a few more stereotypes, respondents weren’t that fond of watching old shows on repeat (although more men liked this than women – 35% vs 25%) and most don’t leave it on in the background while doing something else (23% do).

More than half (57%) felt they watched too much TV. Benjie thinks that’s because society looks down on it so we feel guilty for switching on. ‘It’s intellectual snobbery – you wouldn’t say you listened to too much radio. It’s assumed we’re just hoovering up quiz shows and soaps, but as your survey shows that’s not what people want.’

‘It’s assumed we’re just hoovering up quizzes and soaps, but this shows that’s not what people want’

We asked our customers what they would like to see more of on TV and 41% (across the ages) agreed it was documentaries, followed by crime drama and natural history/science. Soaps came bottom of the ‘more please’ list and reality TV didn’t do too well either – only 5% wanted more.

When asked to name the five types of programmes you watch most, crime drama came top (59%), then the news (57%), documentaries (52%), then sports (35%) and quiz shows (32%). It varied according to age and sex – for instance, those in their fifties put comedy shows in their top three, whereas respondents in their seventies and eighties had more appetite for news programmes than their younger counterparts.

When asked to name their favourite show of all time, Only Fools and Horses won by several lengths, ahead of Line of Duty, Strictly Come Dancing, Fawlty Towers, Downton Abbey and…yes, Dad’s Army (which was a favourite among men). Last of the Summer Wine and M*A*S*H got honourable mentions, as did Monty Python, but some newer shows were also name-checked, including Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

45% watch two to four hours of TV daily

There was another runaway winner when we asked for your favourite show airing right now (surveys were completed in late June): BBC crime drama Sherwood – which will be filming a second series next year, incidentally. Next were The Great British Sewing Bee and The Repair Shop, followed by Gogglebox, Gardeners’ World, McDonald & Dodds (ITV’s Bath-based crime drama) and Stranger Things (the 1980s-set sci-fi/horror show on Netflix). And a few even mentioned ITV’s eye-popping Gen Z reality show Love Island.

Proving that Saga customers are nothing if not diverse in their tastes.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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