Digital drive continues in UK

Sales of HD ready TVs reached almost 23 million by the end of 2009, according to communications regulator Ofcom.

The regulator’s latest Digital Progress Report revealed that pay-TV operator Sky added 482,000 new HD subscribers during the final quarter of 2009, giving them a total of 2.1 million HD subs. Virgin Media’s HD Plus service added 112,700 subs to reach a total of 862,000.

Take-up of digital TV services stood at 91.4% in the fourth quarter, up 2.6% year-on-year, with 79% of all TV sets being converted to digital by the end of the year. Almost 69% of all secondary sets had been converted to digital by the end of the year, up 8.5% year-on-year. The number of Freeview set-top boxes being sold is slowing, with sales of 1.2 million in the quarter down 7% year-on-year. However, overall sales of Freeview set-tops for the year were up 9% to 13.7 million.

Sales of free-to-air DTH service Freesat, a BBC/ITV joint-venture, reached over 900,000 by the end of 2009. In total, around 42% of households (10.8 million) received a free-to-air digital TV service on their main set at the end of December; 39.6% had a non-pay DTT service and 2.5% had free-to-view satellite.

The survey also revealed that nearly 9.2 million or 36% of homes received satellite pay-TV services, up 1.1 percentage points year-on-year. BSkyB reported that it added 172,000 subscribers to its pay-TV service in the UK and Republic of Ireland during the fourth quarter and Ofcom estimated that around 150,000 of these were UK additions. Just over 12.4% of homes took cable TV, the survey found. Virgin Media reported net additions of over 34,000 TV subscribers, with its total TV customer base now over 3.7 million. Digital cable added around 57,000 subscribers in the quarter (when including conversions from analogue cable) and accounted for 98% of all cable television customers.

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