Press release:

Saturday night fever: 5 million Brits fake illness to abandon plans and watch TV

  • Almost 5 million Brits have faked illness to excuse themselves from social plans to stay in and watch TV[1]
  • 18-34 year olds (53%)[2] are much more likely to cancel plans with friends and family than the average Brit (33%)[1]
  • Nights out with friends (54%) are the most likely to be dropped, but nearly four in 10 (38%) have abandoned work events and a brave 10% have cancelled on their partner[3]
  • Watching TV is now the most popular choice (37%) for Brits[4] on Saturday nights – even 18-34 year olds favour it (30%) over going out for dinner (26%) or drinks (25%)[5].

Five million Brits have faked illness to abandon Saturday night plans and watch TV, according to new research by uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service[1].

A third of Brits (33%)[1] admit to pulling out of social plans to stay in and watch TV – but for one in 10 (10%) young adults it’s a monthly occurrence. Flaking on social plans shoots up among the younger generation, with over half (53%) admitting that they’ve cried off events to stay in with the TV[2].

While Brits have offered up a lack of funds (18%), the weather (9%) and even their children (9%) as reasons that they can’t make a night out, they are actually more likely to feign illness (27%) than come clean and simply tell the truth (25%)[6].

It seems the closer people are, the easier it is to let them down. Half of absences are from nights out with friends (54%) and one in eight (13%) are friends’ birthdays[3]. Four in 10 (38%) say they’ve bailed on plans with their work colleagues and an especially brave one in 10 (10%) have even cancelled plans with their partner[3].

Texting and WhatsApp are the most popular ways to pull out of plans (42%), but a quarter (25%) prefer to cancel over the phone. One in eight (12%) say their preference is to bite the bullet and do it in person[7].

There is some reasoning behind the revoking of plans, though. Brits admit their favourite thing to do on a Saturday night is stay in and watch TV (37%), movies (34%) and order a takeaway (32%)[4]. These trump going to the cinema (13%), attending gigs (11%) and even taking in a show (11%)[4].

Even among the younger generation, staying in to watch the telly (30%) is now a more popular thing to do than going out for dinner (26%) or drinks (25%)[5].

Dani Warner, TV expert at uSwitch.comsays: “Brits still rightfully think of Saturday night as the most sacred time of the week. And the reverence for the weekend certainly hasn’t changed, but how we like to spend it has.

“Whereas Saturday might have once been the default night for going out, people have started to gravitate towards the home as a hub for social activities. Whether that’s staying in and catching your favourite shows with friends, or even grabbing a takeaway with the family, we’re increasingly looking to our own nests as a way to relax, socialise and catch up at the weekend.

“However, with TV now available on demand, you don’t need to cancel your plans with friends and family as you can watch your favourite show any day of the week.”

Show off your skills #uSwitchTalent.

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Notes to editors

uSwitch.com surveyed a sample of 2004 UK adults from the 13th to 17th of April 2018. Results have been weighted to reflect a nationally representative criteria.

  1. Respondents were asked: ‘Do you ever cancel plans with friends or family in order to stay in and watch TV?’ The net response for ‘yes’ was 33%. Those respondents were then asked ‘What, if any, excuse did you use for cancelling?’ 27% said ‘faked/exaggerated illness’ There are 51,767,000 UK adults. 33% of 51,767,000 is 17083110. 27% of 17083110 is 4,612,439.7.
  2. Respondents were asked: ‘Do you ever cancel plans with friends or family in order to stay in and watch TV?’ The net response for ‘yes’ among 18-34-year olds was 53%
  3. Respondents who cancelled on plans were asked: ‘Which events, if any, have you cancelled on in the past in favour of watching TV?’ 54% said ‘Night out with friends’, 38% said ‘work colleague event’, 13% said ‘friend’s birthday’ and 10% said ‘plans with your partner’
  4. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking about activities on a Saturday night, which are your preferred choices?’ 37% say ‘Staying in and watching a TV programme’, 34% say ‘Staying in and watching a film’, 32% say ‘Staying in with a takeaway’, 22% say ‘Going out for dinner’, 19% say ‘Going out for drinks’, 13% say ‘Going to the cinema’, 11% say ‘Going to a live music event’ and 11% say ‘Watching a show (i.e. theatre, musical)’
  5. Respondents were asked: ‘Thinking about activities on a Saturday night, which are your preferred choices?’ 30% of 18-34-year olds say ‘Staying in and watching a TV programme’, 26% say ‘Going out for dinner’ and 25% say ‘Going out for drinks’
  6. Respondents who cancelled on plans were asked: ‘What, if any, excuse did you use for cancelling?’ 27% say ‘Faked/exaggerated illness’, 25% say ‘I didn’t use an excuse – I told the truth’, 18% say ‘Money problems/lack of funds’, 9% say ‘blamed the children’ and 9% say ‘the weather’
  7. Respondents who cancelled on plans were asked: ‘Thinking about the most recent time you cancelled plans in favour of watching TV… Which form of communication did you use to cancel?’ 42% say ‘Text/WhatsApp message’, 25% say ‘phone call’ and 12% say ‘told them in person’

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

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