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Mixed forecasts on UK digital take up

By | March 14, 2001

      Two reports on UK digital TV offer mixed views of future take up. One somewhat pessimistic report from Optimedia suggests that digital take-up in the UK is about to dramatically slow down.

      This report suggests that BSkyB will fall far short of its 7 million target direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers and will have in place only 6.2m by the end of 2003. The report states, “[The year] 2000 has seen digital TV penetration exceed most expectations. Driven by heavy marketing and ‘free’ boxes and dishes, we predict that by the end of 2000, 6,230,000 [25.7 per cent] homes had pay digital TV. This will grow to 56.6 per cent by 2005. The majority [4,525,000] of subscribers at the end of 2000 will have chosen Sky Digital. We feel that Sky Digital will continue to be the leader in the short-to-medium term.”

      In essence it seems Optimedia is bullish on cable but negative on ONdigital and BSkyB. On the question of free-to-air digital terrestrial, Optimedia suggests 1.1m homes will be viewing by the end of 2003, and 3.2m by 2005.

      However, investment brokers Merrill Lynch suggests a significantly different scenario in their Global Satellite Marketplace 2001 report and forecast a combined DTH+ONdigital+ cable+DSL position that tops 16m subscribing homes by mid-2005, 17.4m by 2006 and touching 19m by June 2008. Merrill Lynch also gives guidance to xDSL subs, which it says could reach 1.49m by mid-2005.

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