10% in UK Now Have Digital DBS

In the past 12 months, 1.8 million homes have signed on to British Sky Broadcasting's digital Direct Broadcast Satellite service, the company reported in mid-October. Approximately 45% of them are completely new subscribers. With an estimated half-million homes connected to the COFDM DTV service, the total market penetration of digital television in the United Kingdom is now 2.3 million homes, or slightly more than 10%. By comparison, market penetration of digital delivery services (cable and DBS) in the US is now about 12%, after five years of service from DirecTV, Echostar, and digital cable.

Digital cable and DBS should not be confused with high-definition TV, which is still in its infancy. Only about 3 million consumers in the US have the disposable income or sufficient interest in HDTV to invest more than $2000 in a receiver, according to one recent study. There are more than 97 million television households in the US, according to the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA).

Analysts believe that BSkyB could easily grow to 2.5 million digital DBS homes by Christmas, and that subscription to rival DTV services could exceed 750,000 homes by the same time. Fueling the growth in digital DBS is an announcement that inexpensive digital TVs with a 4:3 aspect ratio will go on sale in November at approximately $450 US. High-end 32" widescreen DTVs sell in Britain for about $2000.