British digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview appears to be benefiting from a pre-Christmas shopping rush.

The year-old service - which offers viewers a limited range of free-to-air digital channels once they have bought a set-top box - has seen its usual weekly sales rate double in the past fortnight.

Backed by the BBC, BSkyB and transmission firm Crown Castle, Freeview was established last year to replace defunct pay-TV platform ITV Digital - several hundred thousand of whose subscribers the newcomer inherited. Since then the service's growth has been impressive and it is now accessed by around two million British homes.

An estimated 25,000 set-top boxes weekly have been sold throughout this year. However, according to Freeview general manager Matthew Seaman, in the past two weeks this rate has jumped to around 50,000.

Should such a pace be maintained through to Christmas and the end of the year, the platform's customer base will be just under 2.5m.

"Freeview has already outstripped our own expectations by a fair degree and we're very confident it's going to be a big Christmas," Seaman declared.

The set-top boxes are on sale in over 8,000 supermarkets, electronics shops and other retail outlets - double the number of stores offering them in Christmas 2002.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff