UK Households Buying Second Digital TV, Ofcom

In Ofcom’s morning release of its third quarter figures for digital TV (dTV) penetration in the UK, they’re reporting an estimated 55.9% of UK households now have dTV in some form.

The dominant provider of dTV in the UK is still Sky, with over 7m subscribers, although they have only added 53,000 more in the quarter.

With just short of 4m households is Freeview (the UK Free-To-Air Digital Terrestrial Television service), which exceeds the combined analogue and digital services of UK cable TV providers NTL & Telewest. Pure digital cable is running at 2.5m subscribers.

One of the big concerns with digital switch off has been going beyond the first dTV set in the house. It was fine to say that over 50% of UK households had digital TV, _but_ given that the UK average is 2.5 sets per household, what was going to happen to the analogue sets that were left? There might be a lot of unhappy people not able to watch TV the day after analogue switch off.

The latest figures bring good news to those worried about this. Around a quarter of new sales of Freeview went to homes that already have one digital TV. With the pricing of the Freeview Set Top Boxes (STB) starting from as little as £49 (~$95, ~€71), households must be finding the content on Freeview compelling enough to want also have it in the kitchen, bedroom or child’s room.

What isn’t clear from the figures, is if the original dTV set was Freeview, Sky or cable. We contacted Ofcom to dig a little deeper, only to find that they “don’t dig that deep” into the figures. One thing that did become clear during the chat, was that Sky household’s that purchase a second box are not broken out at all, but are just added to their overall subscriber base numbers.

Full Ofcom Digital Television Update – Q3 2004