Over 80% of households in the United Kingdom now receive digital television services. That is over twenty million homes. Most of the growth comes from Freeview. Nearly two million digital terrestrial television receivers were sold in the first quarter of the year, while cable and satellite added around 175,000 subscribers.
The 670,000 analogue terrestrial households receiving Freeview for the first time accounted for over 80% of growth in digital television in the first three months of 2007. The figures are published in the latest regular research from the communications regulator Ofcom.
The number of televisions sold with digital receivers is rising, driven mainly by sales of flat screen displays that come with digital receivers built in as standard. Integrated digital televisions accounted for 45% of all digital terrestrial television receivers sold in the first quarter, up 120% on the previous year. Many of these are used as the main television in the home, not necessarily to receive digital terrestrial television services. While initial digital terrestrial growth was mainly for the main set in the home, there are now almost as many digital receivers used for secondary sets.
BSkyB added just over 32,000 net satellite subscribers during the quarter, while the number of homes using free satellite equipment also grew by an estimated 70,000. As a result, satellite maintained its position as the most popular platform, powering the primary television set in 8.9 million homes, or 35% of the UK market.
Cable has started to show some signs of growth in the last three quarters. There were 36,100 new cable homes in the period that the platform re-launched as Virgin Media. With migrations from analogue cable, total digital cable additions reached 75,200, making it the primary platform in 13% of homes.
However, taking into account addition television receivers in the home, only just over half are digital. Nevertheless, the number of secondary sets converted to digital is increasing.
The number of free satellite viewers has also been steadily rising, to nearly 900,000. These comprise viewers that have churned away from the Sky subscription services and users of the Sky Freesat service. A new FreeSat service, led by the BBC and due for launch in 2008, is likely to extend the growth in free-satellite homes, presenting a threat to Sky.
There are now 62,000 IPTV subscribers in Britain, a 44% rise on the previous quarter, following the relaunch of HomeChoice as Tiscali TV. BT Vision subscribers are not counted as IPTV homes, as live channels are broadcast over the air rather than delivered over broadband. BT has not announced recent figures, but informitv estimates that the numbers are in the low thousands, adding around two thousand subscribers a week.