PVRs Extend Their Bridgehead Into UK TV

30 September 2004

Personal video recorders – seen by many as the next big leap (or, some fear, hurdle) in the maturation of the British television market – are in growth mode.

Although (as yet) PVRs have barely scraped the surface of the UK market, their future looks bright. Thanks largely to NewsCorp's BSkyB satellite TV operation, which is touting the technology as an integral part of promoting its premium subscription package.

According to a new report from Continental Research, one million UK households will have PVRs, within the next year. Using hard disk technology, they allow viewers to record up to twenty hours of programmes and pause and rewind live TV.

But although BSkyB was first away from the starting gate (thanks to NewsCorp's stateside PVR knowhow), other PVRs compatible with the BBC's new digital Freeview service are appearing on the market and, according to the report, 50,000, non-Sky PVRs have already been sold.

That trickle is set to increase to a healthy flow – then maybe a torrent – as cable operators NTL and Telewest take up the baton early next year with their own PVR products. As many as 525,000 units are expected to be sold in the next twelve months, doubling the current size of the market.

Comments the report: "The PVR could currently be dubbed a 'boy's toy', appealing to young, affluent men and, as such, follows many other technological gadgets. This profile and image is likely to shift as penetration grows."

Continental Research also has words of comfort for advertisers and agencies, already edgy that TV ads could be terminally affected by the technology. The report shows that those in the 16-34 age group, who are most likely to have digital TV and PVRs, have the least jaded attitude when it comes to television advertising.

Says the report: "Younger viewers are also more likely to press the red button during adverts - more than four in ten 16 to 24-year-olds in Sky Digital homes have interacted with a commercial during the previous year."

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff