Freeview, the new digital platform launched little more than a month ago by the hitherto unthinkable alliance of Britain's state-owned BBC with Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB, reports “huge” demand for the set-top boxes necessary to receive the broadcast signal for the 30-channel free service.

The retail trade says it is having difficulty in satisfying consumer demand for the boxes, moving 65,000 units at £99.99 ($157.27; €157.09) each in the first two weeks alone. Manufacturers are struggling to speed-up production lines for Freeview boxes, hailing the service as “more popular than anyone predicted”.

Within a fortnight of launch, Freeview has attracted well over half the number of viewers acquired in sixteen weeks by the now defunct ITV Digital.

Says BBC marketing director Andrew Duncan: “Of course it’s early days yet, but we’re delighted that the first signs for Freeview are so positive. And we're very pleased that already so many more people can watch the BBC’s digital channels. People are clearly responding well to the idea of free, simple digital television.”

Assuming the take-up continues at the current rate to the year end, there could be up to 250,000 new digital viewers. It is also estimated that around 800,000 former ITV Digital viewers are using their digiboxes to receive the new service.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff