Nearly three quarters of Britain watches digital TV

Britain is well on the way to becoming a nation of digital television viewers. According to a report from industry watchdog Ofcom, around 72.5 per cent of British households, could receive digital TV services, up from 69.5 per cent by the end of 2005. There are now estimated to be 18.2 million households able to watch digital TV in the UK.

The news will come as something of a relief to the Government hoping to cash in on the switch from analogue TV to digital. The BBC championed Freeview has, for the first time, overtaken traditional analogue television on primary sets in the home. According to the report almost 7.1 million households have Freeview on the primary television set compared to the 6.4 million refuseniks who have yet to succumb to digital television.

Meanwhile the number of BSkyB UK subscribers went up by just 26,000 to reach almost 7.7 million at the end of March. When free-to-view satellite viewers are taken into account, the total number of satellite-enabled homes is more than 8 million.

However, the relatively flat satellite sales figures compared to Freeview will not make comfortable reading in Osterley. Freeview sales for January to March were up 40 per cent on the same period in 2005 at over 1.2 million, making this the third successive quarter in which sales have exceeded the 1 million mark. The launch of the FreeSat service, which BSkyB hoped would dent the march of Freeview and provide opportunities to upsell to the subscription plans, has clearly not flown.

Following the merger of NTL and Telewest, the number of cable television households increased slightly over the quarter and is currently just over 3.3 million of which 2.8 million are digital viewers.

The full report (PDF) is available at the Ofcom web site.

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