UK is world leader in digital television viewing

17 March 2006

17 March 2006

Ofcom today publishes its Communications Market: Digital TV Progress Report for the fourth quarter of 2005. The report examines data provided by the main digital television platform providers for the October-December 2005 period.

The report shows that the UK has the highest digital penetration of any country in the world. As of 31 December 2005 digital television was viewed by just under 70% of all UK television households, up from 65.9% in the previous quarter. Take-up has not passed the 50% mark in any other European country.

Preliminary sales figures of Freeview (Digital Terrestrial Television or DTT) set top boxes suggest that by the end of February 2006, digital penetration had exceeded 70% of UK homes. Take up varies across the UK - in Wales, for example, digital penetration had reached 80% by the end of 2005.

Digital satellite is now the UK's most popular television platform. For the first time, there are now more digital satellite subscribers in the UK than there are homes watching analogue terrestrial-only TV, as a result of continued growth in BSkyB's subscriber base and large numbers of households switching from analogue terrestrial television to digital terrestrial services.

Over the whole of 2005, more than 2.7 million additional households began viewing digital television for the first time - more than in any previous year. By 31 December 2005, the total number of households viewing digital television services on at least one TV set in the home stood at 17.5 million. The report also reveals that almost one in four UK adults live in homes where all TV sets are now used for digital television viewing and viewing of analogue television services has ceased entirely.

Key trends for the fourth quarter of 2005 include:


  • At the end of 2005, more households were watching BSkyB subscription services on their principal TV set than were watching any other form of television service. [Source: Ofcom market intelligence]
  • BSkyB added 194,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter, bringing its total number of UK subscribers to 7,666,000. [Source: BSkyB]
  • BSkyB pay-TV services are now present in just under a third (30.5%) of all homes with free-to-view digital satellite services viewed in a further 2.4% of homes. [Source: Ofcom market intelligence]


  • More than 10.5 million Freeview boxes had been sold by the end of 2005, with the average price paid for a Freeview box - £41 - having halved in just over two years. [Source: GfK].
  • In the last quarter of 2005, more than 1.9 million Freeview set-top boxes and integrated digital televisions were sold - almost 500,000 more than the corresponding period in 2004.[Source: GfK]
  • Freeview accounted for seven out of every ten households watching digital television services for the first time in 2005. [Source: Ofcom market intelligence]


  • The total number of subscribers to cable television increased slightly during the quarter to just over 3.3 million. Digital cable subscribers increased by over 71,000 while analogue subscriptions fell by 58,000. Digital cable now accounts for 2.72 million of the total cable subscriber base. [Source: ntl, Telewest results Q4]
  • Cable serves 13.2% of television homes and ADSL Internet Protocol-based digital television services (Homechoice and Kingston Interactive Television) serve 0.2%. [Source:ntl, Telewest results Q4, 2005]

The full Communications Market: Digital TV Progress Report can be found on the Ofcom website - see Related Items.