Digital television reached just under 60% of homes in the UK by the end of 2004, with satellite and cable losing share to terrestrial television.

The total number of digital television homes grew by nearly 915,000 to 14.8 million over the last quarter of 2004, an increase of 3.5 per cent.

The latest figures from Ofcom show that the satellite and cable share of the digital television market declined. BSkyB dropped to 51.8%, and ntl and Telewest fell to 17%, while Freeview rose to 31.1%.

Nearly 1.5 million digital terrestrial television receivers were sold in the three months leading up to Christmas, representing 75% of the net additions to digital television homes. The free digital terrestrial television service is now the primary form of digital television in over 4.5 million homes. This takes into account an estimated 25% of sales to homes that already have some form of digital television. TopUpTV, an add-on subscription service, does not publish its subscriber numbers, so these are included in the Freeview figures.

The number of free-to-view satellite households also rose, increasing by 11% to 385,000 homes. This is an estimate of the number of viewers watching free channels without paying a monthly subscription. BSkyB now offers a non-subscription deal and the BBC is still planning its own Freesat offering.