People in the United Kingdom are more likely to have a digital video recorder than in any other country, relatively speaking, it seems. A recent Ofcom survey found that 30% of respondents in the UK said they had a DVR. However, informitv suggests the actual number could be lower. With nearly 21 million DVR households, the United States still has far more in absolute terms.

The figures come in The International Communications Market Report from the regulator Ofcom and were widely reported.

“UK consumers are blazing the way when it comes to embracing the digital TV age,” trumpeted the Ofcom announcement. “Not only do 86 per cent of UK households now have digital TV on their main set, but services like high definition TV and digital video recorders are also soaring in popularity,” it said. “While UK consumers are making the most of the services on offer, we’re also getting better value for money than ever before.”

In a recent Ofcom survey, 30% of those in the United Kingdom said they owned and personally used a digital video recorder, compared to one in five in the United States, Canada or Italy. The figure in France was 17%, compared to 13% in Japan and 11% in Germany. Ofcom notes that this was based on an online survey of around 1,000 adults in each country studied and may not be entirely representative of the population at large.

Over four million homes in the United Kingdom now have a Sky+ digital video recorder, that is over 45% of the Sky satellite homes, with just under 0.6 million supporting high-definition.

Fewer than half a million Virgin Media cable homes have a digital video recorder, which is under 15% of their installed base. An estimated one million Freeview+ digital video recorders have been sold, which represents under 11% of Freeview homes.

So, a total of 5.6 million digital video recorders represents around 22% of the 25.6 million televisions homes in the country, which is significantly less than the Ofcom survey suggests, and closer to the estimated proportion of digital video recorder homes in North America.

The figure of 30% of homes could reflect that DVR ownership is more likely to be reported by someone responding to an online survey. It could even indicate confusion over the term DVR. Some consumers, for instance, might report having a recordable DVD device as a DVR.

In the United States, an estimated 20.8 million homes had a DVR in 2007, compared to just over 15 million the year before, according to Screen Digest. There are around 112 million television homes in the United States, so that suggests a DVR penetration of under 20%, which is consistent with the Ofcom survey results.

One thing is clear. The number of DVR homes in France has risen notably in recent years, from a million in 2006 to 2.7 million last year, over 90% of them connected to IPTV services, which now account for one in five pay-television homes in the country.

The propensity to pay for television services and how long platform providers have offered digital video recorders are logically determining factors in consumer adoption.

Not noted by Ofcom, is the critical importance of marketing, discount bundling, user experience, interface design, and accurate programme schedule data, all of which are also key factors in the adoption and usage of digital video recorders.

The International Communications Market Report is available from Ofcom and provides a valuable summary of key market data.