The UK has the highest digital penetration of any country in the world, according to media regulator Ofcom. Its latest progress report on digital rollout says that by the end of 2005 just under 70% of all UK households were watching digital TV, up from 65.9% in the previous quarter. Preliminary sales figures for Freeview set-top boxes suggest that by the end of February 2006, digital penetration exceeded 70% of UK homes.
According to Ofcom digital take-up has not passed the 50% level in any other European country. The US was second to the UK in terms of penetration, at 55% of all homes.
Ofcom said for the first time there are now more digital satellite subscribers in the UK than there are homes watching analogue terrestrial-only TV.
Over the whole of 2005 more than 2.7m additional households began viewing digital television for the first time—more than in any previous year. By December 31, 2005, the total number of households viewing digital television services on at least one TV set in the home stood at 17.5m, Ofcom's Communications Market: Digital TV Progress Report says.
Another key finding: almost one in four UK adults live in homes where all TV sets are now used for digital television viewing and viewing of analogue television services has ceased entirely.
Key trends for the fourth quarter of 2005 include:
Digital take-up varies across the UK. In Wales, digital penetration reached 80% by the end of 2005. Digital penetration in Border—the first region to switch off analogue signals in the second half of 2008—increased by 17% over the past year and now stands at 71%, says the report.
"Ofcom's latest modelling suggests that digital TV penetration will continue to grow over the next few years, as a result of both continued market-driven digital take-up and by the implementation of digital switchover on a region-by-region basis, starting in Border in 2008," the report states.
"In 2006, we expect more than 1.7m homes to take up digital TV; thereafter the number of digital households will continue to grow steadily at around 1m homes per annum. By the end of 2010, we expect around 95% of homes to have taken up digital TV of one form or another."
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