Free satellite uptake overtakes Freeview


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Aug 29, 2001
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Subscription-free satellite services were the fastest-growing digital TV platform in the first three months of the year, according to Ofcom research.

The regulator is also preparing for a more significant boom in free-to-view satellite in the next batch of statistics, following the launch and marketing of Freesat by the BBC and ITV in early May.

Total uptake of multichannel TV on main sets grew by 190,000, or 0.7%, to 87.2% of UK homes between January and March, the regulator said.

Of these, research suggests that 83,000 went to non-subscription satellite, a quarter-on-quarter growth of 13%, taking the platform to about 720,000 homes.

About 74,000 adopted Freeview which, though an increase of just 0.5% on December 2007, maintains the service's position as the most popular in the UK, with 9.2m homes employing it for their primary set.

Sky reported 43,000 net additions in the quarter and ****** Media added 37,000 subscribers. "Using these results as an indicator, free satellite added the most homes with a 35% share of additions followed by DTT with 31%, pay satellite 18% and cable 16%," said Ofcom. "In other words the free platforms - free satellite and DTT - added around twice as many homes as the pay operators in Q1."

The reason for the growth in "free satellite" is unclear, but it could be down to increased awareness of the possibility in the run-up to the launch of Freesat, or greater promotion of Sky's non-subscription products.

For the first time, Ofcom has used survey research by GfK alone to calculate its multichannel TV uptake figures, though operators' reported additions and Freeview sales figures have still been included for comparisons.

One of the reasons for the change, Ofcom said, is the growing importance of subscription-free satellite. "The launch of BSkyB’s Freesat from Sky and Pay Once Watch Forever products, and the more recent launch of the Freesat service from the BBC and ITV, suggest that the free satellite platform could emerge as a significant source of DTV growth," said the regulator.

"As consumers become more accustomed to the terms 'free satellite' and 'freesat' and take-up increases, research surveys should measure growth increasingly accurately."

Ofcom's first-quarter report also noted the continuing sluggish uptake of IPTV. TV over ADSL, such as that available from Tiscali and some small providers, showed no measurable growth in the quarter, remaining on 50,000 households. The platform's share of primary sets has grown by just 0.1 percentage point in the past 12 months.

The regulator's overall figure of 87.2% digital penetration, and a growth rate of 0.7 percentage points in the quarter, suggests uptake could fall short of the 93% predicted by some analysts for the end of this year.


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Jun 4, 2005
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Of these, research suggests that 83,000 went to non-subscription satellite, a quarter-on-quarter growth of 13%, taking the platform to about 720,000 homes.

would of thought they would of gone on the number of Freesat boxes sold as a portion of the non-subscription will be ex S** subs.


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Aug 10, 2001
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essex colchester-ipswich
Well these figures are based on the 1st quarter of 2008, so they cant add any freesat figures because it didnt exist then. The second quarter wont really show much either as freesat didnt exist until the last 2 weeks of it, so we'll have to wait until the 3rd quarter to maybe get some real figures showing freesat uptake. That is IF they add any seperate figures for that.