UK leads on bundling, but premium HD poor value

December 12, 2013 10.50 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Family TV on iPadTelevision subscriptions represented both the largest and fastest growing proportion of the communication sector’s total global revenue in 2012, according to Ofcom’s 8th annual comparison of international data in the television sector.

Total global revenues, incorporating the telecoms, television, postal and radio sectors, grew by 2.5% year-on-year to reach £1,228bn.

The report compares the availability, take-up and use of services in the UK and 16 comparator countries; France, Germany, Italy, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Data has been provided by consultancy firm IDATE, while Teligen built a bespoke model to enable an analysis of comparative international pricing.

Among the highlights, 15% of UK fixed broadband connections were superfast at the end of 2012. This was the fifth highest proportion among comparator countries, after Japan (64%), the Netherlands (35%), Sweden (29%) and Australia (20%), and was the highest proportion among the EU5 countries.

In the UK 77% of online respondents reported that they received a bundle of services from the same supplier as their broadband. This was higher than in all of the other comparator countries.

The main area where the UK did not perform well was HD premium pay-TV services (including a PVR). UK single-service prices for these services were the highest among comparator countries. Ofcom admits these are difficult to compare as the number of channels and the quality of content can vary considerably.

Despite this the UK holds among the highest penetration of value adds; almost half (48%) of UK TV homes now have an HD service, 15pp above the average for all European ICMR countries (33%). The UK also has the highest ownership of digital video recorders (41% of households) among all countries included in the research.

UK consumers are the most likely to access TV content over the internet, with over a third (36%) of internet users claiming to do this every week. Consumers in the UK are most likely to watch catch-up TV on their smart TVs, mobile phones and tablets. Over three-quarters (77%) of UK smart TV owners access catch-up TV on that device, while a third (34%) of tablet owners and one in ten (12%) smart phone owners use their devices to watch catch-up TV.