UK Digital TV Penetration Nears 60%

31 March 2005

Well over half of all British TV households now receive digital television broadcasts, the nation's media supra-regulator Ofcom reported Wednesday.

In the quarter ended 31 December 2004, 59.4% of all UK homes received dTV programmes; an increase of 3.5% points from 55.9% at 30 September 2004.

Among the key trends reported by Ofcom are ...

  • By 31 December 2004, the total number of digital television households grew by 914,980 to 14,773,881, representing growth over the quarter of 6.6%.

  • BSkyB added 177,000 subscribers bringing its total number of UK subscribers to 7,262,000 at the end of Q4 2004. [Source: BSkyB results, Q4 2004]

  • The number of DTT-only (Digital Terrestrial Television) households at the end of December 2004 is estimated at 4,592,920. This is an increase of 678,000, from 3,914,920 at the end of September 2004. [Source: Freeview Q4 2004 sales figures, GfK market research, Ofcom market estimates]

  • There are now almost 5 million free-to-view digital households. This figure consists of Freeview viewers plus free-to-view digital satellite homes. The total number of homes using the latter is estimated at around 385,000 including viewers who are no longer Sky subscribers but still receive the public service channels through their set-top box, as well as "Solus" viewers. [Source: Ofcom market estimates]

  • The total number of subscribers to cable television remained around 3.3 million. Digital cable accounts for just over 2.5 million of the total number of UK digital households (17% of digital homes), with 11,500 additions in Q4 2004. [Source: NTL and Telewest Broadband Q4 results]

  • 3.2% of households continued to subscribe to analogue cable during the fourth quarter, bringing the total proportion of households receiving some form of multi-channel television to just over 63.0%. [Source: NTL and Telewest Broadband Q4 results]

  • An adjustment has been made to account for the number of households which have more than one television receiving digital broadcasts. Latest estimates suggest that 25% of sales of Freeview set-top boxes in the last quarter of 2004 were bought for use with second televisions by households which already receive digital broadcasts (either Freeview, BSkyB or cable) on their main television. Data supplied by BSkyB and cable operators already include multi-set households within their subscriber figures.
To read the full Ofcom report please click here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff