Multichannel TV Takes Historic First Lead in UK Ratings War

25 April 2003

Britain’s multichannel TV sector for the first time ever has claimed a greater audience share than the hitherto dominant terrestrial channels BBC1 and ITV1.

According to new figures from BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board), multichannel offerings – shorthand for the plethora of non-terrestrial channels available on satellite and cable platforms as well as digital terrestrial service Freeview – posted record audiences last week.

Multichannel television claimed a 26.1% viewing share for the week ending April 20, boosted by the soccer showdown between Manchester United and Arsenal (the two leading teams in the English Premier League) and the heavily trailed 300th episode of The Simpsons.

That share beat both BBC1 (23.9%) and ITV1 (23.8%). Significantly, these figures cover all households. Multichannel TV has beaten the two terrestrial giants before in the 40% of homes subscribing to multichannel platforms, but never across the whole television-viewing population.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff