UK Digital TV Population Climbs to 13.7m, BT Eyes Pie

21 September 2004

The number of British households receiving digital TV is continuing to rise, according to the latest figures from media regulator Ofcom.

Results for the second quarter show dTV has reached 55% penetration (13.7 million), up by 2% from the previous quarter [WAMN: 04-Jun-04].

The 12% rise in Freeview customers formed a large part of this growth, compared with BSkyB's disappointing 1.1% gain. Although Sky remains the dominant dTV provider, Freeview's share of the market is now 28%.

Publication of the Digital Television Update comes as UK telecoms titan BT holds talks with Freeview receiver manufacturers to discuss the development of technology enabling high-speed broadband internet connections to be linked with TV sets.

As the phone giant prepares to enter the pay-TV market, it plans to broadcast free digital channels through standard TV aerials while offering 'time-shifted' TV technology in which content such as films and drama would be transmitted on demand through broadband internet connections.

In a bid to raise revenues and internet loyalty among its customers, BT's video-on-demand content may include evergreen favourites such as Fawlty Towers and Coronation Street, assuming it acquires the rights from broadcasters BBC, ITV and Sky.

It has also expressed an interest in linking its technology with Sky's satellite broadcasting service.

  • Meanwhile, Channel 4 is busy preparing for the digital-analogue switchover by agreeing a ten-year transmission deal with Luxembourg-headquartered satellite company SES Global.

    The deal, worth €80 million ($97m; £54.4m), enables the commercial broadcaster to establish several new digital channels.

    For the full Digital Television Update, click here.

    Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff