Two-thirds of all UK television sets now linked to digital

Friday, July 11th, 2008 
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Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of the 60 million television sets in the UK are now digitally-linked via cable, satellite or digital terrestrial – according to the latest figures from Ofcom published today. The Digital Progress Report for the first quarter of 2008 shows that the total number of digitally-linked sets has grown by around 7 million from 33.5 million to 40.5 million over the past twelve months as householders focus on converting secondary television sets to digital.

The survey uses new consumer research which gives Ofcom a more accurate view of take-up of digital television in residential households. As a result of this new methodology, the figures for the previous quarter have been restated to allow for a like-for-like comparison.

Under the new methodology, the survey states that the total number of households who have converted their main television set to digital in January, February and March of 2008 was up slightly on the previous quarter from 86.5 per cent to 87.2 per cent.

Key trends for the first quarter of 2008 include:

DIGITAL TERRESTRIAL TELEVISION (DTT) – Freeview services

  • There are over 9.6 million homes with DTT on their main television set – an increase of almost 1.3 million over the past twelve months.
  • Nearly 14 million homes had converted secondary sets to DTT by the first quarter of 2008 bringing the total number of DTT sets to over 23 million.
  • There were more than 3 million sales of DTT equipment in the first quarter of this year. Of this, 1.9 million were integrated digital television sales (IDTV), up by 116 per cent on the same period last year and the highest first quarter sales for IDTV.
  • Since the launch of Freeview in 2002, the total number of DTT sales has exceeded 30 million.
  • There were around 400,000 homes with a DTT pay service

DIGITAL SATELLITE SERVICES – Sky subscribers

  • Sky (BSkyB) grew its UK subscriber base by 43,000 to 8.3 million households, an increase of 332,000 over the past twelve months
  • The number of Sky subscribers taking the Multiroom service, which allows viewers to receive Sky services on another television set, stood at nearly 1.6 million, an increase of 40,000 on the previous quarter and 274,000 additions over the past twelve months.
  • Sky+, the digital video service, saw another quarter of growth, adding 262,000 subscribers, taking the total number of subscribers with this service to almost 3.4 million, around 38 per cent of its customers.
  • Sky’s high definition service added 43,000 subscribers to reach 465,000 subscribers.
  • Ahead of the BBC/ITV launch of its Freesat service in May, some 720,0000 homes were receiving free satellite services by the end of March 2008.

CABLE TELEVISION – Virgin Media subscribers

  • The total number of cable subscribers is now over 3.5 million, up by 36,800 in the first quarter of this year.
  • An additional 102,000 cable viewers subscribed to Virgin Media’s digital video recorder service known as V+ during the quarter, bringing the total number of users to 364,200. This service can also be used with a high definition (HD) television set to watch HD services.
  • Almost half of Virgin Media customers (48 per cent) were using its video on demand service , with viewing up 10 per cent on the previous quarter

Platform take-up survey results summary

1. Pay satellite homes may include some UK households which subscribe to overseas pay satellite services and also an element of survey respondents not correctly differentiating between pay and free satellite.
2. ADSL figures do not include BT Vision customers, to whom live scheduled programming is delivered via DTT (in Freeview coverage areas) rather than by broadband. These homes are therefore included in DTT homes.
3. DTT-only homes (non pay) means those homes where DTT is the only digital platform and no monthly subscription is paid for additional DTT services such as Top-Up-TV.
4. Free-to-view satellite homes includes all homes with satellite TV not paying a subscription.

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