TV Licensing: 'Night owls fuel midnight shopping trend'

The UK is becoming a nation of online “night owls”, according to figures released today by TV Licensing

Over the past 12 months, 42,000 people updated their details or bought a TV Licence online between midnight and 6am while most of us are fast asleep. This marks a 40 per cent increase over the same period four years ago.

The lure of midnight online activity is underlined by a poll conducted by Gorkana for TV Licensing. It revealed nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) would go online during the night if they woke and were unable to get back to sleep, whilst a quarter of those polled said they would read a book or watch TV. However, the age-old method of counting sheep is still widely followed with one in ten surveyed saying they used this technique to help them fall back asleep.

Other helpful suggestions for returning to a restful slumber included doing crossword puzzles, going to the bathroom, plumping the pillows and even making a cup of coffee.

And what makes the trade in the wee small hours so easy is the rise in tablet ownership. Alison Hunter, from the Blue Room – the BBC’s media technology lab, said:

Almost half of all people in the UK have a tablet at home. The internet has revolutionised when we shop but also when and how. The portability of tablets means you can keep it by your bedside for those hours when you can’t sleep.

Since their launch in 2010, the UK has been quick to embrace tablet computers. A recent survey* revealed half of those polled now owned a tablet. Northern Ireland leads the way with over two-thirds (67 per cent) of those surveyed owning one, followed by Wales (55 per cent), East Midlands and East of England (53 per cent), and North East (51 per cent).

Stephen Farmer, spokesperson for TV Licensing, said:

Buying a TV& Licence or checking your details online at a time convenient to you is one of the many benefits of living in the internet age, a trend reflected in the figures we’ve released today.  Our customers obviously enjoy the flexibility, control and ease, which interacting with the TV Licensing website brings.

TV Licensing has launched a mobile optimised website which makes it even easier for customers to pay, update or check their details online. Currently, over 40 per cent of visits to the TV Licensing website are from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Customers can easily choose to receive their licence or TV Licensing correspondence by email, and since August, those using a Payment or Savings Card can now log in to see their details online. A colour TV Licence currently costs £145.50 and is needed by anyone watching or recording TV programmes as they are shown on TV, whether they are using a TV set, computer, or any other equipment. Anyone watching TV illegally risks prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

To buy a TV Licence, or find our more information about licensing requirements, visit

* Tablet ownership statistics provided by YouGov, September 2014


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