21 August 2000

According to Britain's telecoms regulator Oftel, one in five homes can now tune-in to multi-channel services from BSkyB and Ondigital, as well a digital broadcasts by the BBC, ITV and cable networks - less than two years after the launch of DTV in the UK.

Says Oftel spoke Anne Lambert: “Digital TV is still a relatively new medium in the UK, but the encouraging sign is that consumers are being attracted to it ... these figures are a positive start.”

Take-up is predictably greatest among higher income consumers and households with children – and lowest among unemployed households, older people, and small households. One-third of DTV subscribers are newcomers to pay-TV, having previously watched only free-to-view channels.

Home shopping via the medium is, however, still a minority activity. While over 60% of respondents claim that their subscription package includes additional interactive services like email or home shopping, only 20% actually used them. The most popular services are electronic programme guides and downloadable games, but only 13% used e-mail and 6% online banking.

But Oftel believes that uptake of home shopping, banking, home tutoring and other interactive services will increase over time. "As people get familiar with interactive services many online activities are likely to be done from the home via the family TV set," added the watchdog.

By far the largest slice of the digital cake is held by Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB, claiming 82% of the nation’s 4.5m households now viewing DTV. This compares with a mere 12% for OnDigital and 6% for cable television operators.

The vast majority (83%) of customers were satisfied with the services provided, and those who used interactive services generally liked them.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)