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Case studies

What is life like without the BBC?

Depriving households of BBC content and services to see what difference, if any, it makes to the perceived value of the licence fee.


This research examined what value the BBC delivers to UK households in return for the licence fee paid. The study was first conducted in 2014/15 (Life without the BBC) and was undertaken again to gauge the value of the BBC in the much more competitive media landscape of 2020/21.


Eighty UK households spent nine days without the BBC and were given back the equivalent cost of the licence fee for that period.  Qualitative interviews explored what difference, if any, this experience made to their views of the value of the licence fee and the BBC.


This deprivation exercise showed that the majority of households underestimated the value they get from the BBC.  Among the people who initially said they would rather do without the BBC, or would prefer to pay less, we saw 70% changing their minds – after deprivation, they were willing to pay the full licence fee or more, in order to keep BBC content and services.

“It is great to see the role the BBC plays in people’s lives up and down the UK. It not only shows the importance of public service broadcasting, it reinforces that we must continue the hard work to maintain that support and ensure we offer something for everyone.”

Tim Davie

BBC Director-General