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Thursday, 17 August, 2000, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Digital TV use spreading
Digital TV allows viwers to use interactive services
Digital TV allows viwers to use interactive services
Digital television is spreading rapidly throughout the UK since its launch less than two years ago, new research has confirmed.

It suggests that one in five households now have digital television, which can provide hundreds of channels of output and interactive services like home shopping and gaming.

As people get familiar with interactive services, many online activities are likely to be done from the home via the family TV set

Anne Lambert, Oftel
The rapid roll-out of digital services suggests that government plans for a switch-off of analogue television services sometime between 2006 and 2010 are on track.

"Digital TV is still a relatively new medium in the UK, but the encouraging sign is that consumers are being attracted to it... these figures are a positive start," said Anne Lambert of government telecoms regulator Oftel, which carried out the survey.

Digital divide

Digital TV is most popular among richer consumers and households with children, while take-up is lowest among unemployed households, older people, and small households.

And one-third of digital television subscribers are new to pay television, having not subscribed previously to analogue satellite or cable pay television.

More digital television subscribers claim to use other interactive services, such as mobile phones or internet services.

But the take-up of interactive services on digital TV, such as home shopping, is low.

Over 60% claimed to have paid for additional interactive services like e-mail or home shopping, but only 20% were actually using them.

The most popular digital service were electronic programme guides and downloading of games, while only 13% used e-mail and 6% engaged in online banking.

Good news for BSkyB

The rapid take-up of digital television is also good news for satellite broadcaster BSkyB, which has a dominant share of 82% of the 4.5 million households currently using digital subscription services, compared to 12% for OnDigital and 6% for cable television operators.

BSkyB has said it wants to have 7 million digital subscribers by 2003.

The vast majority (83%) of customers were satisfied with the services provided, and those who used interactive services generally liked them.

The Oftel report predicts that as consumer confidence in interactive services grows, more people will switch to using them.

Home shopping, educational activities such as home tutoring, and regional information services were predicted to be the most popular interactive services in the future.

"As people get familiar with interactive services many online activities are likely to be done from the home via the family TV set," Oftel added.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Business
Net TV 'to overtake PC'
26 Jul 00 | Business
BSkyB: Digital take-up 'phenomenal'
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