Most homes in Western Europe now digital

90% of households expected to have digital TV by 2013

LONDON -- More than half of Western European households had digital television by the end of last year, according to new research from Informa Media and telecoms, with 90% of the continent's 157 million homes expected to have it by 2013.

Led by the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, the whole of Western Europe had 89 million digital homes by the end of 2007 and is expected to have 129 million by 2010.

But despite the rosy picture, full digital conversion is expected in only four territories during that period -- Finland, France, the U.K. and Ireland.

Although currently dominated by cable television, the report predicts that Europe's digital landscape will eventually be driven by free channels and on-demand content offered by digital terrestrial television, which is predicted to become the most popular platform by 2011.

The U.K. is the most prominent digital market, accounting for 25% of Western Europe's 89 million digital TV homes, followed by France with a 20% share and Germany with 17%.

But Britain's dominance has waned as other markets show improved digital growth rates. By 2013, Germany is expected to lead the way with 30 million digital homes.