Half of U.K. Homes Pay for TV

Around 80 percent pay in the United States
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LONDON: Close to half of the homes in the United Kingdom subscribe to a pay TV service, according to recently released figures from media regulator Ofcom. As of 4Q08, 49.5 percent of British households were said to have pay satellite or cable TV service on their man TV set, up from 48.6 percent in 3Q08. By comparison, around 80 percent of the TV households in the United States pay for either cable or satellite service.

Around 39 percent had free subscription DTV either via satellite or over-the-air via Freesat or Freeview. Another 11.2 percent still relied on analog TV.

BSkyB’s HD service logged the fastest growth, adding 188,000 subscribers in 4Q for a total of 780,000. 3DTV capability is being added to the HD distribution platform with the addition of an enabled set-top. That service is said to be online to become available later this year.

Another 521,000 cable customers subscribed to Virgin Media’s V+ hi-def service. Sales of the BBC’s Freesat HD set-tops reached 172,000 by the end of 2008. High-definition DTV is expected to start becoming available terrestrially later this year with nationwide coverage by the country’s digital transition deadline in 2012.

Nearly 4.5 million pieces terrestrial DTV gear were sold in Q4, the highest for any comparable period. DTV sets sold like hotcakes leading up to the holidays, reaching record sales of 3.1 million units--up more than one-third from 2007. Digital-only households rose by 85,000 in the quarter to push total reliance to 9.8 million.