The latest update on digital television development progress places Europe far ahead of the US.

Datamonitor's report, Digital TV Markets 2004, predicts the number of digital households in Europe to rise from 31 million in 2003 to 63m by 2006 and 89m by 2008, reaching a penetration of 59%.

This compares with an estimated 43m digital homes in the US by 2006 and 60m by 2008 –- 52% of all households.

Most growth is expected to come from digital cable and terrestrial services, with the success of free-to-air television service Freeview boosting the UK's predicted digital penetration by 2008 to 82% in 20.6m homes, ranking it the most developed digital TV market in Europe.

Other key estimates:

  • Germany: despite only 56% penetration, the success of regional rollout will enable it to reach the top of Europe's digital market by the end of 2008 with 21m digital homes.

  • France: slow growth is expected following delays in the digital terrestrial TV launch; 12m digital homes are predicted by 2008, a 54% penetration.

  • Italy: an optimistic dTTV launch this year will enable 58% penetration by 2008, in 11.7m digital homes.

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