8 out of 10 UK TV screens now get digital

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 
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Digital TV surges among second sets

A surge in the conversion of secondary TV sets boosted the total number of UK digitally-enabled TV sets to 80 per cent by the end of June 2009 (up by seven percentage points in three months), new Ofcom research published today reveals. There are currently around 60 million TV sets in the UK.

Ofcoms Digital TV Progress Report for the second quarter of 2009 shows that 24.3 million secondary TV sets had been converted to digital by the end of June, up by 15 percentage points in a year. The average UK home owns around 2.4 TV sets.

In total, nine out of ten (89.8 per cent) of main television sets are now connected to a digital decoder as the Granada region prepares to begin switchover in November. Areas in the UK that have already switched to digital include the Border area, the West Country and south and west Wales. The rest of the UK will switch to digital between now and the end of 2012.

The report also reveals that more consumers are bundling their communications services with the same supplier:

  • By the end of the quarter, 16 per cent of BSkyB customers (1.5 million subscribers) took three services TV, broadband and home phone up from 11 per cent last year.
  • The number of Virgin customers taking three services or more reached a new high of 58 per cent during the quarter, up from 53 per cent in the first quarter.

Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT)

  • By the end of the quarter there were 29.7 million DTT-enabled sets, of which 9.9 million were primary and almost 19.8 million were secondary sets.
  • Freeview set-top boxes accounted for over 680,000 sales in the quarter, down 25 per cent on last year as integrated digital TVs (IDTV) have become increasingly popular.
  • Year on year IDTV sales were up by 590,000 or 41 per cent. Cumulative sales of IDTVs have now reached almost 22 million and are likely to overtake those of set-top boxes (24 million) this year.

Digital Satellite Services And Other Pay TV Services

  • BSkyBs results for the second quarter reported a 124,000 increase in subscriptions to its television service, taking its total UK and Republic of Ireland subscriber base to 9,442,000, up 462,000 over the past year.
  • BSkyBs digital video recorder service, Sky+, saw another quarter of growth with 435,000 subscribers added. This took the total number of Sky+ homes to approaching 5.5 million, 58 per cent of its customer base.
  • The HD service provided by BSkyB added 291,000 subscribers during the quarter. This was the highest number of quarterly additions to date and took total HD subscribers to over 1.3 million (13.9 per cent of Skys total subscriber base).
  • The number of subscribers taking the Sky Multiroom service rose by 66,000 during the quarter to 1,835,000 (231,000 additions over the past year). This means that 19 per cent of Skys customers have at least one extra set connected to a pay satellite service in addition to their primary set.
  • Around 860,000 homes were subscribing to other pay TV platforms in the second quarter with BT Vision subscribers reaching 433,000 by June 2009, and Top Up TV and Tiscali TV making up the remainder.

Digital Satellite Services (Free services)

  • The BBC/ITV freesat service reported further growth during the period, with total cumulative retail sales reaching 450,000 units by the end of June 2009, up from 350,000 units in the first quarter of 2009.
  • Over three quarters (79 per cent) of cumulative BBC/ITV freesat sales were HD compatible by June 2009.
  • According to the latest consumer research there were around 700,000 homes using free satellite services (BBC/ITV freesat and Freesat from Sky) as their main television platform.

Cable (Virgin Media subscribers)

  • Virgin Medias quarterly results revealed additions of 32,900 digital television subscribers including those migrating from analogue to digital cable.
  • Virgin Medias digital video recorder service, V+, added 56,600 subscribers to reach 668,500 in total, equivalent to over 18 per cent of the Virgin TV subscriber base.
  • Over half (55 per cent) of Virgin Medias digital subscriber base was using its video on demand service on a monthly basis during the quarter.

More: Full Report