Just over 70% of households in the United Kingdom now receive digital television — a total of 17.7 million homes. That figure is actually slightly down on the previous quarter, as a result of changes in the way the figures for Freeview digital terrestrial television receivers are calculated.

The estimated number of homes that primarily receive digital terrestrial television — promoted in the UK under the Freeview brand — has been revised downwards. It now represents just over a quarter of television homes in the UK.

Platform share of all UK TV homes. June 2006. Source: Ofcom.

In its latest published research, the communications regulator Ofcom has restated the figures for homes that primarily use digital terrestrial television at 6.4 million homes, down from the previous estimate of over 7 million.

As the market matures and the number of digital terrestrial television households grows, a larger proportion of receivers are being used to convert second sets or as upgrades or replacements. Of the 1.2 million digital terrestrial television receivers sold in the last quarter, 60% were set-top boxes, while 40% were integrated digital televisions.

Digital terrestrial tuners are increasingly being fitted as standard in flat screens, although these may be used to view other digital services.

Ofcom has accordingly reduced its estimate of digital terrestrial only homes by 10 per cent. As a result there is still some way to go before Freeview overtakes Sky and more homes still have to be converted to digital than previously believed.

Over 13 million digital terrestrial television receivers have been sold in the UK since the launch of Freeview, with just over 20% of these being integrated digital television sets.

Free-to-air digital television remains the fastest growing platform in real terms. In addition to digital terrestrial television, an estimated 700,000 homes receive free satellite services, this includes those that have churned from subscription services or opted for a non-subscription installation.

The Sky subscriber base showed a modest rise to just under 7.75 million homes.

The number of cable homes actually fell slightly, as analogue losses were not offset by gains in digital subscriptions, which now account for 2.8 million homes.

When all television sets are taken into account, rather than just television homes, Freeview is the dominant digital platform, but digital sets still remain in the minority.

Platform share of all UK TV sets. June 2006. Source: Ofcom.

Analogue terrestrial reception still accounts for 57% of all television sets, which represents a challenge for digital switchover, or an opportunity for consumer electronics companies and service providers.