UK Digital Television Q1 2008 Update


OFCOM has published on 11 July 2008 its Communications Market details: Digital Television Progress Report for the first quarter of 2008 (January-March). This information is of importance to the Trade in general though some consumers may also find it an interesting read regarding DTV progress in the UK.

This is an edited OVERVIEW of the Report by Group Analyst, Val Hopwood. The full printable version is available by using the link at the end of this OVERVIEW of the UK’s Digital Progress Report for the first quarter of 2008.

The OFCOM Digital Progress Report has changed the methodology they use to measure residential take-up of multichannel television. From Q1 2008 they will use consumer research alone, instead of using a combination of subscriber data for the pay platforms (cable, satellite and television delivered over ADSL broadband (IPTV)), research for DTT and Ofcom estimates for free satellite households.

For comparison purposes, OFCOM will continue to report separately on subscriber additions as reported by platform operators (as seen in Section 3 of full Report), but these figures will no longer be used in their estimate for overall take-up.

To allow for quarter-on-quarter comparisons, OFCOM has restated the Q4 2007 multichannel headline figures using their new research methodology. This has the effect of pulling down the previously reported number by 0.4 percentage points (pp) from 87.6% to 87.2%. (The restated Q4 figure for digital TV, which excludes analogue cable households, is also down 0.4 percentage points, from 86.7% to 86.3%).

Based on OFCOM’s new research methodology the three months to the end of March 2008 saw multichannel TV take-up on main sets increase by 190,000 homes, or 0.7 percentage points (pp), from 86.5% to 87.2% and by 6.9pp year-on-year. The free platforms (DTT and free satellite) accounted for two thirds of this net growth, with the three pay platforms (cable, pay satellite and IPTV) accounting for the remainder.

With a majority of main sets now already receiving Digital TV, many consumers are now converting additional sets in the home; over half (53%) of all secondary TV sets had been converted to multichannel by the end of Q1.

Taking these figures together, the proportion of all TV sets converted to multichannel passed two thirds (68%) in Q1 2008, with the remaining 32% continuing to receive only analogue terrestrial broadcasts. This means that over the last twelve months, the proportion of analogue terrestrial sets fell by over 11 percentage points from around 44% in Q1 2007 to 32% by Q1 2008.

Other key findings highlighted in the first quarter of 2008 include:

  • Nearly 22.2m million households had multichannel TV equipment connected to their primary television set by the end of the period.
  • DTT device sales reached over three million during the period, an increase of 55% on Q1 2007. This followed on from four million sales in Q4 2007 (which is traditionally a high quarter in the run up to Christmas). Of the three million sales in Q1, integrated digital television sets (IDTVs) accounted for around 1.9 million units - up 116% on twelve months ago - while set-top boxes accounted for approaching 1.2 million, up 6% on the previous year. Over the past year over 11 million DTT units have been sold, compared to around 7 million in the previous year.
  • DTT-only households accounted for almost a third (31%) of all growth in main-set multichannel TV homes in Q1, rising by around 75,000 to over 9.6 million homes.
  • Free-to-view digital satellite increased by around 80,000 homes in the quarter, contributing over a third of net additions to multichannel main sets. OFCOM research figures show that around 700,000 homes are currently using free satellite on their main set. Total free-to-view digital households (DTT and free satellite) have now reached 39% or approaching 10m homes.

Research results for Q1 showed that the total number of homes using pay and free satellite had reached 36.6% or 9.3 million. (According to BSkyB, its pay satellite subscriber base rose by 43,000 to reach over 8.3 million subscribers in the UK by the end of the quarter).

Research results for Q1 showed that cable was the primary viewing platform in 12.5% of homes. (Virgin Media reported another positive quarter, adding around 37,000 net new subscribers to exceed 3.5 million subscribers by the end of Q1. Digital cable added almost 58,000 subscribers in the quarter (including conversions from analogue cable) and now makes up 94% of the total cable subscriber base).

OFCOM has made the following assumptions in this report:

In calculating platform totals, DTT-only homes are defined as those where DTT is the only multichannel TV platform in the home. (Figures for homes which have DTT as well as another platform are included in Sections 2 and 3 of the Report).

A household with either a satellite or cable subscription in addition to DTT equipment is counted primarily as a satellite or cable home.

The full document is available with the link below:

Digital Television Update - 2008 Q1[pdf]

Edited OVERVIEW by Valerie Hopwood, Analyst – Ltd

OVERVIEW SOURCE: OFCOM – Office of Communications, London. UK – 11 July, 2008