Digital terrestrial and broadband television operators are attracting new European subscribers to digital, according to the latest report from Strategy Analytics.

Over a quarter of Europe’s television households had digital television at the end of 2004, up from just over a fifth at the end of the previous year. Much of that growth can apparently be attributed to digital terrestrial television and emerging IPTV or internet protocol television services.

Strategy Analytics reports that the success of digital terrestrial and IPTV broadband television services is shaking up the established digital television market.

Satellite remains the leading digital television platform in Europe, but recent growth has been modest, adding 2.1 million homes during 2004 to reach a total of 25 million homes, although this is predicted to double to 49.1 million by 2010.

Digital terrestrial television, driven by the Freeview in the UK and free-to-air broadcasters in Germany, added 4.4 million European homes during 2004, taking the total to 8.1 million. That number is predicted to rise to 42.2 million by the end of the decade.

Digital cable added 1.2 million digital subscribers, the highest rise in three years, with a total of 7.6 million homes. With only 16% of cable subscribers across Europe taking a digital service there is room for further growth, with the number forecast to rise to 28.9 million by 2010.

IPTV providers, such as Free in France and Fastweb in Italy, increased their user base by 450,000, bringing the total number of homes receiving television over broadband to around 0.6 million. However, that number is predicted to rise to 11.3 million or just under 10% of the market by the end of the decade, with IPTV by then established as the fourth digital platform.

The Strategy Analytics report, Digital TV in Western Europe, is based on a survey of more than 70 operators across 16 European countries.