Freeview Breaks 5m Barrier. UK Digital TV Now ~62%

Freeview Breaks 5m Barrier. UK Digital TV Now ~62%Ofcom has today reported its quarterly figures on the rate of take-up of digital TV in the UK.

The number of homes that are connected to a digital TV service through some means has increased 2.5% to just short of 62% (61.9%). No big surprise there as this has been gradually increasing over the previous quarters.

The bigger news, we feel, is Freeview, the UK’s Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) service reaching 5,059,350 homes – breaking the significant barrier of five million homes.

Freeview Breaks 5m Barrier. UK Digital TV Now ~62%This is bad news for Sky, as it’s starting to get close to the around 7.5m homes that they have. What’s worse news for them is in the detail of the report. Sky’s all-important ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) has dropped from £386 in Q4 2004 to £382 in Q1 2005. This might not sound huge, but for an organisation that is trying to constantly increase their ARPU, it’s not encouraging. Another figure of note is their rate of churn, that’s up to 11.1% form 9.6% in the previous quarter.

Xmas has previously been a strong time for Sky as people with little imagination and less conversation buy in Sky to keep them happy over the Turkey dinner.

Freeview Breaks 5m Barrier. UK Digital TV Now ~62%The growth of aerial-delivered Freeview has been gaining more momentum of late, still spearheaded by the BBC using the Freeview channels to first-show a lot of its content.

For the fact spotters, a minor point of interest is the number of old ITV Digital STB’s that are in use in the UK. This is in steadily decline since they went bust and is now running at 290,000, down 60,000 from 350,000 in the previous quarter.

I actually run one of these and have increasingly found problems with it as the ‘digital rust’ sets in – box freezes, etc. (I’m not looking for sympathy. The problems with the box are significantly offset by the fact that I paid the princely sum of 1p for it, timing its purchase, as I did, during the week of uncertainly before ITV Digital went bust).

Freeview Breaks 5m Barrier. UK Digital TV Now ~62%The breakdown of the figures is as follows

Sky Subscribers – 7,349,000 Freeview & free satellite – 5,504,350 Digital cable – ~2,500,00

Ofcom Digital Television Update – Q1 2005