LONDON: Freeview, the digital television platform sponsored by a consortium of five media giants - the BBC, BSkyB Channel 4, ITV and National Grid Wireless - is now installed in more UK homes than News Corporation-controlled BSkyB, according to the latest data.

Although Sky still boasts marginally more households (8.4 million versus Freeview's 8.2m), its total includes the Republic of Ireland. Freeview serves the UK only.

The news put Sky on the back foot: Quoth a spokesman: "Now that analogue TV is going to be switched off, people will inevitably migrate to free channels. That does not mean Sky sales are slowing down. In fact, in the last quarter we attracted more new subscribers than we have had since Freeview was launched."

Fortuitously, the announcement of Freeview's triumph just happens to coincide with the launch of Freeview Playback, a digital TV recorder designed to directly compete with NewsCorp's DVR Sky+.

Retailing at around £150 ($300; €221), the new gizmo includes features similar to Sky+, among them personalised TV schedules, one-touch recording, pause and rewind of live TV and automatic series recording.

Hypes Freeview general manager Cary Wakefield: "Based on our predictions, we expect Freeview Playback to become the preferred choice of digital TV recorder, with an uptake of at least ten million by 2012."

Launched in October 2002, the Freeview service provides free-to-air digital TV channels, radio stations and interactive services via a roof antenna.

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