British TV viewers are falling over themselves to sign up to digital television services.

The latest projections from market researcher Continental Research show that homes with multichannel TV will rise by 19% to sixteen million by the end of the year, representing 62% of the UK adult population.

The fastest growing platform is the BBC-backed Freeview, launched in October 2002 and now installed in 4.3m households. It is forecast to add another 1.8m homes by the end of 2005.

Freeview, which is accessed via a settop box for a one-off payment of around £50 ($95; €72), is the fast-closing rival to the longstanding digital dominance of Sky, provided by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB platform. Sky is predicted to surpass its eight million subscriber target by the end of this year.

Cable digital homes currently number 2.7m and are forecast to increase by 700,000 households.

Says Continental director Jon Beaumont: "The fastest growing platform in the foreseeable future is Freeview. However, Sky will remain dominant."

The overall potential market for digital TV, according to the research, is currently around 17.3 million - seventy-one per cent of all homes.

Adds Beaumont: "Sky seems likely to remain the clear market leader, but the total market still has some way to go to reach the 95% target (23.3m homes) set as a target for full analogue switch off."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff