Digital Television Update - 2003 Q4

09 July 2004

This is the first of Ofcom's Digital Television Update quarterly reports, which supersede the ITC's Multichannel Quarterly reports. As far as possible, the data in this report is based upon the latest figures provided by the platform operators. However, it is also necessary to rely on some estimated figures.

Executive Summary

By 31 December 2003 digital TV penetration was estimated to have reached 50.2% of UK households, up from 48.0% at 30 September 2003.

In addition a further 4% of households were subscribing to analogue cable, bringing the total receiving some form of multi-channel television to 54.4%. Within these total figures, the key developments were:

  • The total number of digital television households grew by 2.2% over the quarter, with an additional 423,000 going digital during the quarter.
  • Sky's subscriber numbers increased, reaching 7,208,000 in the UK and Ireland at the end of Q4 2003.
  • Freeview also saw an increase, with household numbers estimated to have grown to around 2,996,700 in the same period.
  • In addition to Freeview households, latest estimates suggest there are around 211,000 free to air digital satellite homes. This figure has fallen during the year as a result of the BBC's decision to stop encrypting its signal on satellite and the resulting withdrawal of the solus card scheme (see below).
  • In total there are now more than 3.2 million free to air digital households.
  • The total number of subscribers to cable television is estimated to have remained stable at around 3.2 million, Digital cable subscriber numbers are now around 2.3 million with more analogue cable subscribers switching over to digital.
  • An adjustment has been made to account for the number of households which have digital on more than one set. Ofcom estimates that 15% of sales of Freeview adapters in the last quarter were bought for use on second sets by people who already have digital (either Freeview or Sky or cable) on their main set.

Full report

Digital Television Update 2003 Q4 (PDF, 178.9 KB)