Half of the UK would rather miss the funeral of a loved one than tune in via a live-stream

Published  02 May 2017
   4 min read
  • A third of adults (33%) have been forced to miss the funeral of a loved one
  • But just under half (49%) say they would rather miss a funeral altogether than watch one through the latest “live-streaming” technology

New research from mutual insurer Royal London has found that while a third (33%) of adults have had to miss the funeral of a loved one, almost half (49%) would not use a live-streaming service to pay their respects from afar.

The research shows that people are willing to travel an average of three hours to attend the funeral of a loved one – requiring time off from work for many. But three in 10 (30%) people have missed a funeral because they were unable to get time off work and a further 30% did so because the location was too far away.

Other reasons for missing funerals include having other commitments on the same day (25%), being unwell (24%) and getting too emotional to attend in person (15%).

Growing numbers of funeral directors and crematoria are now offering ‘live-streaming’ of funerals to address this problem. Royal London spoke to 50 UK crematoria and funeral directors who arranged around 50,000 funerals in the last 12 months to gauge the current level of availability of live-streaming services. More than half of those surveyed offer a live-streaming service in response to interest that they have seen in this. However, in a survey of more than 2,000 people, just one in six (15%) said that they are aware of the concept, rising to a quarter (25%) of those aged 18-34.

The future of funerals

While half (49%) said they would not be interested in watching a live-stream, younger people are the most open to the concept. A third (33%) of those aged 18-34 would use live-streaming if they could not attend a funeral in person. This is compared to 26% of those aged 55+ and 23% of those aged 35-54, suggesting that this could be an emerging trend given the widespread use of technology by the younger generation.

The cost of (almost) being there

The research shows the cost of live streaming varies but is also often underestimated. Consumers expect the service to cost £29 when in fact, some companies charge up to £100 for the service. One in three consumers surveyed said that live-streaming should be completely free but only one in four of the companies Royal London spoke to offered it at no cost.

The data also reveals an emotional cost associated with a live-stream funeral. More than half (54%) said watching a live-stream would be insensitive or morbid and four in 10 did not believe it would capture the emotions and sentiment of being there in person. Almost one in three (27%) felt that they wouldn’t be able to grieve or process their grief in the same way.

Mona Patel, Royal London’s consumer spokesperson, said:

It is understandable that most people would prefer to attend a funeral in person wherever possible. But with so many people saying they have been forced to miss a funeral, live-streaming could be an option for those who would like to pay their last respects but aren’t able to attend in person. Many older people are not comfortable with this, but it is noticeable that younger people are much more open to paying their respects in a different way.


For further information please contact:

Royal London Press Office

Notes to editors

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium. Total sample size was 2,005 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in April 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted to be nationally representative.
  2. Phone interviews of 16 UK crematoria and 34 UK funeral directors were carried out by Royal London and Hill + Knowlton in April 2017.

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £117 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 3,745 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2018.