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European DTV breaks 100 million barrier

Digital TV penetration of Western European households broke the 50 percent barrier in 2007, ending the year at 54 percent (compared to 42 percent at end-2006), new research from Informa Telecoms & Media shows.

Informa predicts that digital homes in the region will reach 104 million by the end of 2008, rising to 157 million by 2013, equivalent to a 90 per cent penetration rate. Nevertheless, despite this rise in DTV penetration, the report's findings show that full digital conversion will only be seen in Finland, France, Ireland and the UK.

The UK is currently the most prominent digital market, accounting for 25 percent of the region's digital TV homes, followed by France with a 20 percent share and Germany with 17 percent slice of the DTV pie. The UK's dominance will be short-lived however, as other markets begin to see improved digital growth rates; by 2013 Germany will lead the way with 19 percent of the total number of digital households in Western Europe.

According to Informa, Cable is set to lose its position as the leading platform, when digital terrestrial TV (DTT) overtakes it in 2011, and satellite service providers are expected to see an upturn in revenues during 2009.

"While cable will remain the region's leading pay TV platform, the satellite subscriber base is eating into its dominance. Satellite's much higher ARPU levels mean it will overhaul cable in revenue terms during 2009," Adam Thomas, Informa's Media Research Manager, said. "DTT often provides a similar channel line-up to analogue cable, usually for no monthly fee, so will benefit from churning cable customers. IPTV is also using attractive triple-play bundles to tempt away cable subscribers."