The UK is crawling ever closer to full digital TV penetration, only a year before the country switches off its analogue TV signal.
The quarterly survey of digital TV uptake in the UK by broadcasting and telecoms regulator Ofcom has shown that by Q1 2011, that take-up stood at 93.1% of UK homes a rise of a single percentage point on a year on year basis.
However, the pace at which secondary sets were being converted to digital was much faster, up by 5.2 percentage points in a year for a total of just over three quarters of additional TVs converted to digital by the end of March 2011. Al in all, this meant that 83.3% of all TV sets had converted to digital television by the end of Q1 2011.
As a result, Ofcom feels that the penetration and pace of change mean that it is no longer necessary to have to monitor digital TV roll out on the quarterly basis that it has done so over the last five years or so and regards it as more appropriate to move to an annual cycle of reporting.
In terms of digital TV platforms, Ofcom’s survey found that the number of homes claiming that DTT was their primary means of digital TV reception stood at 10.1 million, the equivalent of 39.6% of all homes, in comparison to 39.8% in Q1 2010. In the twelve months to the end of Q1 2011 12.6 million DTT units (IDTVs and set-top boxes) were sold, compared to 13.7 million in the previous year, a decrease of 7.8%.
By the end of Q12011, sales of DTT-enabled equipment reached 3.2 million units in Q1 2011, down by 6.3% in comparison to Q1 2010. Integrated digital television sets (IDTVs) accounted for over 81.3% of sales in the quarter and almost all TV sets sold (99.6%) included an integrated digital decoder. Freeview set-top boxes accounted for over 596,000 sales in the quarter, down by 30.3% compared with Q1 2010.
Consumers in around 2 million homes claimed to have access to some form of free-to-view digital satellite device on any set in the home. This was up from around 0.7 million over a twelve month period.
Satellite based digital TV has flat lined with almost 9.3 million homes (36.2%) of homes receiving pay-satellite TV services, the same as the Q1 2010 figure. Separately, BSkyB reported that it added 377,000 subscribers to its pay television service in the UK and the Republic of Ireland in the year to Q1 2011, with its total TV customer base now at 10.1 million.
Ofcom also found that 13.1% of homes took cable television, up from 12.9% a year before. Sole UK cable MSO Virgin Media reported net additions of 49,300 TV subscribers on the previous year, with its total TV customer base now at 3.8 million. Digital cable added over 12,700 subscribers in the quarter (including conversions from analogue cable), with 99.8% of all cable television customers using digital cable services by Q1.