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Major Differences Between TV Plans

October 30, 2019 - Ralf Beyeler

A study of Swiss TV plans by independent online comparison service reveals major differences in costs and services provided. In many cases, using separate TV and Internet plans works out cheaper than using bundled offers.

TV plans remain very popular in Switzerland. But many customers find choosing the right TV plan challenging. To make the choice easier, telecom expert Ralf Beyeler of studied the most popular Swiss TV plans.

For the study, accounted for the total subscription costs for the first year based on four user profiles. Each user profiles represented different expectations for picture quality, end-user devices, available channels, TV time shifting and TV recording capacity.

Many service providers bundle TV plans and Internet plans and offer these as package deals. In this case, compared the cost of each bundled offer which included Internet (min. 20 Mbps) with that of stand-alone TV plans from the same service provider. The interactive TV plan comparison on served as the basis for the study.

First user profile: Few TV channels

The first user profile applies to TV users who only need basic TV plans. This kind of user is content with the most widely-broadcast TV channels and with standard definition (SD) picture. They watch TV broadcasts on a television set, computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone in real time.

There are a number of free TV plans available for this “undemanding” user profile. These include the free offers from Internet TV service providers Teleboy, Wilmaa and Zattoo and telecom service provider Swisscom. The free offers from Teleboy, Wilmaa and Zattoo even include some channels in high definition (HD). A more expensive option for this user profile is the TV neo plan from Sunrise, which costs 60 francs for the first year.

Using bundled TV and Internet plans does not make sense for this user profile. “Using bundled plans is much more expensive than simply using a free TV plan and getting an Internet plan separately,” says telecom expert Ralf Beyeler. In practice, hardly any consumers matching this profile use bundled offers.

Second user profile: Popular TV channels in HD

The second user profile defines TV users who watch the most popular TV channels in Switzerland and want to view these in high definition (HD). This user does not need time shifting, TV recording or live TV pause. They watch TV broadcasts on a television set, either directly or using a receiver (a set top box, Apple TV or Android TV, for example).

The most affordable online TV streaming offer for this profile is the Premium plan from Zattoo which costs 110 francs for the first year. Wilmaa is just slightly more expensive at 116.10 francs for the first year (promotional offer on

For TV plans which are bundled with Internet plans with a minimum data transfer speed of 20 Mbps, iWay is the cheapest option at 492 francs for the first year. However, this plan is only available in some cities (including Zurich and Bern). The most affordable plan which is available across Switzerland is offered by Teleboy and costs 540 francs for the first year.

The price differences are staggering, with the most expensive offer matching this profile costing almost twice as much as the most affordable offer. One reason for these differences is that some service providers only offer plans which include many functions and services.

Third user profile: The most popular HD channels and TV time shifting

The third user profile applies to TV users who want to watch popular channels in HD quality and use time shifting functions. The TV time shifting criteria for this user profile are a minimum of 7 days of time shifting and a minimum TV recording capacity of 100 hours.

The most affordable online TV streaming offers matching this profile are Zattoo Premium at 110 francs for the first year and Wilmaa at 116.10 francs for the first year (promotional offer available in the TV plan comparison).

For bundled TV and Internet, Teleboy has the most affordable offer at 540 francs for the first year. A user matching this profile would pay 1139 francs – more than twice as much – with Swisscom. Getting the same service from Sunrise would normally cost 1020 francs for the first year. For a short time (initially up to November 3, 2019), new Sunrise customers pay 720 francs for the first year as part of a special promotion.

Fourth user profile: Many HD channels and TV time shifting

The fourth user profile applies to demanding TV users who want many TV channels in HD quality and time shifting functions. The minimum criteria for time shifting functions for this profile is 7-day time shifting and 500 hours of TV recording capacity.

The most affordable online TV streaming for this profile is Zattoo Premium, which costs 110 francs for the first year. Sunrise offers a streaming plan matching this user profile for 240 francs for the first year.

Service provider iWay is the most affordable for TV plans which are bundled with Internet plans. In some cities like Zurich and Winterthur, its plan for this user profile costs 552 francs for the first year. On a countrywide level, the plan is offered for 669 francs for the first year.

Differences in included channels

The services included in different TV plans also vary broadly. There are major differences in the channels offered. Some TV plans do not include any channels in HD quality, while many include around 60 channels in HD. The TV L plan from Swisscom includes the highest number of HD channels, with 160 stations broadcast in high definition.

Differences in equipment provided

Most service providers let you access their TV plans via set-top boxes and apps for smartphones and tablets. A few service providers also let you watch TV using Apple TV or Android TV consoles. This is typically the case with online TV streaming service providers.

Differences in time shifting functions

TV recording capacity varies broadly between plans. The most generous plan in this regard is the Friends & Family plan from Wilmaa, which has a 6000-hour TV recording capacity. A number of other service providers offer a 1000-hour recording function. But there are also plans with just 20 hours of recording capacity, and others with no recording function at all.

Differences in TV time shifting are less pronounced. Most plans either include a 7-day time shifting function or do not include time shifting at all. A handful of plans include 30-day TV time shifting.  

TV streaming plans without Internet are the most affordable

The study reveals that online TV streaming plans which can be accessed via any Internet connection (over the top services) are notably cheaper than bundled TV and Internet plans. Even when the additional cost of an affordable Internet connection (around 400 francs for the first year) is accounted for, streaming plans are still much cheaper than many bundled TV and Internet plans. Surprisingly, many TV streaming plans include better services than some TV plans sold as part of bundled offers.

Plans with limited services

The scant services included in some plans result in these plans not being applicable to all user profiles. For example, the TV plan from Solnet only broadcasts many popular TV channels in low SD quality and not in HD. The recording function included in the plan only has a 20-hour recording capacity. Wingo (100 hours) and GGA Maur (200 hours) are not included in the fourth user profile because they do not meet the TV recording capacity criteria.

Many service providers haven’t adapted to the Netflix era

Demand for TV remains strong in spite of the alternatives provided by the likes of Netflix. But many TV users now expect to be able to watch TV in the same way that they use Netflix or YouTube. They want to be able to stream TV over any Internet connection using different devices, pay monthly flat fees which can be charged to their credit cards, and be able to terminate their contract on a month by month basis.

Surprisingly, many Swiss TV service providers ignore these demands. Only a few service providers offer TV plans with the Netflix model. Instead, established TV service providers continue to offer conventional TV plans,” concludes Ralf Beyeler. Swisscom, for example, informed that it does not currently have plans for an over the top TV subscription.

Major service providers are notably more expensive

The big Swiss TV service providers Swisscom, UPC and Sunrise are often significantly more expensive than the most affordable smaller service providers. That is not only true for Internet plans, but also for bundle Internet and TV plans.

For example, the most affordable bundled TV and Internet plans from Swisscom are between 66.5 and 110.9 percent more expensive than the cheapest available plans – depending on the user profile. Without accounting for limited promotional offers, Sunrise plans are between 45.8 and 88.9 percent more expensive than the cheapest available plans. UPC plans are between 66.9 and 116.1 percent more expensive than the cheapest available plans.

When the special promotional offer from Sunrise is accounted for, Sunrise plans are the cheapest available for three of the four user profiles. For the second user profile, Sunrise is 9.8 percent more expensive than the cheapest plan. UPC cable TV plans are between 46.2 and 64 percent more expensive than the cheapest available offers in spite of its special promotion.

Comparing TV plans pays off

Comparing the prices and benefits of TV plans helps you get more for your money. The comprehensive, interactive TV plan comparison on makes finding the most affordable plan for your needs quick and simple. In addition to TV plans, you can also compare Internet plans, landline telephone plans and bundled plans based on your exact location.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.