Freeview climb pushes DTV take-up past 80%

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Strong sales of digital terrestrial television (DTT) receivers in the first three months of 2007 helped push digital penetration to more than 80% of UK homes, according to Ofcom's latest Digital Television Progress Report. The sale of 1.95m DTT receivers in Q1, up 61% on the year, was fuelled by the growing availability of integrated digital televisions (IDTVs), with sales of nearly 900,000 in the period. Total household take-up of digital TV stood at 80.5% (or 20.4m homes) at the end of March, up from 77.2% in the previous quarter and 69.7% a year ago.

"More than four in five UK households are now enjoying the benefits of digital television," said Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. "It's great news that we are continuing to see the market grow strongly as we approach the start of digital switchover."

Ofcom's research confirms Freeview's announcement in April that it had overtaken BSkyB's UK subscriber base. According to Ofcom's numbers, compiled from platform operator statistics, GfK research and Ofcom's market estimates, Freeview is now on the main set in 8.4m homes (up from 7.7m in the previous quarter), compared with Sky's 8m UK subscribers at the end of Q1.

Key findings in the report include:

  • In Q1 869,000 UK homes took up digital television for the first time, following more than 1m additions in the previous quarter.
  • 1.95m Freeview devices (set-top-boxes plus IDTVs) were sold during the quarter, up from 1.2m in the first quarter of 2006
  • DTT accounted for 81% (670,000) of the growth in the digital television market during the quarter.
  • Free-to-view satellite added 70,000 homes during the quarter, taking the total number of homes on the free-to-view satellite platform to an Ofcom-estimated 885,000.

Ofcom says that of the UK's 25.4m television homes in Q1 2007 18.3% still have analogue terrestrial television on their main set, down from 21.4% in Q4, 2006, and 28.2% in Q1 2006. DTT has a 33% share of main TV sets while pay satellite has a 31.6% share; cable 13.4%, free-to-view satellite 3.5%; and ADSL 0.2%.

On the assumption that average TV set ownership is nearly 2.4 per home, equating to 60m TV sets in total, Ofcom estimates 49% of total sets are analogue, with 7.8% being primary sets (in the living room) and 41.2% secondary (in a bedroom or kitchen). DTT has a 27.8% share of total sets, with pay satellite on 15.5%, cable 6.2%, free-to-view satellite 1.5% and ADSL 0.1%.

Lovelace Consulting  |  20.06.2007

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