Nearly nine million digital video recorders are now installed in the United Kingdom. That implies a significant change in viewing habits over the last few years for many millions of individuals. They include not only subscribers to pay-television, but also an increasing number of DVR devices bought in stores. The number can be expected to rise further. Within the next few years informitv forecasts that one in two homes may have a digital video recorder.

Over five million homes now have a Sky+ digital video recorder. There are now also over half that number of digital terrestrial recorders, with around 290,000 sold in the first quarter of 2009, representing over a third of all Freeview set-top box sales. Over 600,000 Virgin Media customers have a V+ digital video recorder, which is less than a fifth of cable television homes. With a further 600,000 BT Vision, Top Up TV and Tiscali TV homes, there are now an estimated 8.9 million digital video recorders in the country.

Just under 90% of homes in the United Kingdom and nearly three quarters of around 60 million television sets have now converted to digital television, leaving 2.7 million homes and 27% of sets still receiving analogue broadcasts.

Over 18 million homes have some form of digital terrestrial television receiver. Around 9.8 million of them rely on digital terrestrial television. Since Freeview launched in 2002, over 43 million receivers have been sold, of which some 20 million were integrated digital television receivers. The number of set-top box converters sold has fallen recently, with the rising popularity of flat-panel displays with built-in digital receivers.

Sales of Freesat receivers have now reached 350,000, up by 120,000 over three months. However, the total number of homes receiving free satellite services is actually down by 100,000 over the same period to around half a million.

With heavy promotion and special offer prices on high-definition boxes, Sky added 80,000 subscribers in the last quarter, up by 430,000 over the last year to 9.3 million.

The latest figures come in the quarterly digital progress report from the communications regulator Ofcom, based on reports from platform operators and a consumer survey.

In America, where around one in four homes has a digital video recorder, some analysts suggest the number could rise to one in two within the next two or three years. It seems that in the competitive digital television market in the United Kingdom similar levels of digital video recorder penetration may be seen.

There is still some debate over the impact on advertising. Anecdotally, some viewers report routinely skipping commercials, although actual measured behaviour seems to suggest that still only a minority of adverts are skipped across all homes with digital video recorders. Nevertheless, some analysts are suggesting that within a couple of years up to a third of adverts in prime time could be skipped by those with digital video recorders.