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Monday, April 19, 1999 Published at 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK


Digital cable TV 'will be a hit'

Digging for victory: Digital cable TV could outstrip ONdigital

A new survey is predicting digital cable TV will be a success with viewers - even though it will launch a year behind digital terrestrial and satellite services.

Cable TV operators like Cable and Wireless and Telewest are not expected to launch their digital services until the summer at the earliest, but a report by market research company BMRB International suggests viewers are prepared to wait for the cable option.

The report predicts cable TV groups will have 555,000 subscribers by March 2000, giving them a 20% share of the market.

At the same time, it forecasts SkyDigital's satellite service will have 50% of the market, while terrestrial service ONdigital will have just 12%. The balance represents viewers with no particular preference.

The findings are based on interviews with 46,000 adults over the past six months.

Author Patrick Diamond said: "Cable operators can take comfort that their prospective customers are still waiting for their launch, rather than opting for Sky or ONdigital now."

Battle for digital viewers

[ image: SkyDigital is set for a 50% share of the market, according to the report]
SkyDigital is set for a 50% share of the market, according to the report
The report comes as the battle between Sky and ONdigital for viewers hots up. Digital TV is expected to lead to an explosion of channels available to viewers, as well as other technological advances like internet access via television.

Earlier this month, ONdigital - which is jointly owned by ITV broadcasters Carlton and Granada - reported it had signed up 110,000 customers in its first four months of operation.

That compares with a total of more than 350,000 BSkyB digital subscribers, although many of these have migrated from the group's existing satellite services.

BSkyB has set a target of signing up one million digital subscribers by October. Meanwhile ONdigital believes it can capture two million users within five years.

ONdigital has announced plans for special digital-only versions of ITV hits such as Coronation Street, and is planning to sell integrated digital TV sets from around £500 this year.

Press reports have also claimed the price of a set-top decoder - needed for an ordinary TV to pick up digital signals - could fall to as low as £25 in the next few years.

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