skyThe number of UK homes watching free-to-view digital television on their main sets has overtaken BSkyB’s UK pay-TV subscriber base for the first time. According to Ofcom, 1m homes converted to digital TV in the final three months of 2006, up from an 800,000 increase in the third quarter. Growth was driven by strong sales of digital terrestrial receivers, with total sales reported by GfK reaching 2.4m.

Digital terrestrial-only households rose by 700,000 to 7,703,000, according to survey data by GfK for Ofcom. According to Ofcom there were 815,000 free-to-view digital satellite homes at the end of the quarter, taking the total free-to-view digital household level to 8.5m. BSkyB reported 7.98m UK subscribers at the end of Q4. “When free-to-view satellite viewers are included, the total number of satellite homes was almost 8.8m,” said Ofcom as it released its Digital Progress Report for Q4, 2006. Net cable subscribers increased by 38,500 during the quarter to a total television subscriber base of over 3.3m, with 3m receiving digital services.

Taking all three digital platforms, plus 43,000 homes taking Tiscali TV’s IPTV service, into account, the UK ended 2006 with a primary set digital penetration of 77.2%, up 3.9% on the previous quarter.
Of the 60m TV sets in use in the UK, analogue terrestrial accounts for 51.5%; digital terrestrial 25.6%; pay satellite 15.3%; cable 6.1%; free-to-view satellite 1.4%; IPTV 0.1%.

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By Expat