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75% of British households use Freeview - but internet delivered TV platforms see big increases

75% of households in Great Britain use the digital terrestrial television platform Freeview for some or all of their TV viewing. That's according to new research published by Ofcom today - exactly a year since digital switchover concluded in London.  

However, in terms of growth, both satellite and terrestrial platforms showed only small increases in households using them as a primary source for TV over the past two years, despite digital switchover. The largest increases went to up-and-coming internet delivered TV platforms.
See graphics & charts below.

Ofcom's Digital TV Update, which studies how viewers watch digital TV in Great Britain, but not Northern Ireland, also revealed that 40.2% of households - 10.3 million - exclusively rely on Freeview as their primary TV service. Another 8.9 million households use Freeview as a secondary service, alongside other platforms, including Sky, Freesat, Virgin Media and internet delivered services such as BT Vision and TalkTalk TV. In total, 19.2 million households use Freeview in some form or other, making the digital terrestrial television platform still the most popular way of accessing TV in Great Britain.

According to the report, there were 2.1 million free-to-air satellite households in Great Britain by the end of 2012, which include users of the Freesat service. This equated to a modest increase of 80,000 households over the course of the preceding year. Like-for-like figures for Sky were not available in the report, but between the third quarter (July-Sep) of 2011 and 2012, Sky subscriber figures also increased by 80,000, with almost half a million subscribers switching to Sky HD during that period with 4,561,000 Sky HD subscribers by the end of September 2012.

Virgin Media acquired just 32,400 extra subscribers between the end of 2011 and 2012.

In the pay TV sector, the number of households using pay TV services delivered via digital terrestrial television fell from 1.2% of households in Spring 2011 to 0.9% by the end of 2012. Overall the number of households using pay TV fell during the Olympics, after a surge during 2011 and early 2012, helped by the digital switchover taking place across Central, Eastern and Southern England. By the end of the year, pay TV households were on the increase again, with non-traditional pay TV platforms making up most of the increase. Non-traditional pay TV platforms include the new YouView/TalkTalk and BT offerings. By the end of 2012, 54.1% of households used pay TV.

The rise of non-traditional pay TV platforms
Internet delivered platforms that provide a hybrid of Freeview channels delivered through the air and extra content from the internet are on the rise, and are seeing higher levels of growth compared to traditional satellite and cable pay TV platforms. Even though, the percentage share of households using such services remains small.

% of households using non-satellite/cable/terrestrial pay TV                                                           Source: Ofcom
Q4 2011
Q1 2012
Q2 2012
Q3 2012
Q4 2012

Other pay TV platforms include BT Vision, TalkTalk TV and Sky’s Now TV (either via YouView or via Roku)

Number of Subscribers 
+ 80,000 year on year
Q3 2011
Q3 2012
Source: Ofcom

Free-to-air satellite (including Freesat)
Number of households* 
+ 80,000 year on year
Q4 2011
Q4 2012
*using a free-to-air satellite service as their primary TV service.                  Source: Ofcom

Virgin Media
Number of subscribers 
+ 32,400 year on year
Q4 2011
Q4 2012
Source: Ofcom

updated 22:57


  1. would prefer to watch freeview on tv then watching
    on the internet,the percentage of freeview viewers
    should increase has new channels are added to the
    platform for example new hd channels


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