U.K. digital TV penetration nears 70%

Numbers up from 56% of all TV sets last year

LONDON -- Nearly 70% of all British TV sets had multichannel television by the end of March, up from 56% at the same stage last year, according to figures published Friday by media watchdog Ofcom.

Ofcom estimates that, with more than 80% of U.K. TV owners main sets already receiving digital television (22.2 million), 53% of all secondary sets now also have digital capacity, whether via cable, satellite or digital terrestrial connection.

During the first three months of 2008, digital terrestrial installations jumped by 55% year-over-year to 3 million sets, of which integrated digital sets, which do not require an additional set-top box, accounted for 1.9 million units.

Over the past 12 months, 11 million digital terrestrial sets have been installed, compared with 7 million the previous year. BSkyB's satellite subscriptions were up 43,000 for the quarter, while Virgin Media added about 37,000 net subscribers in the three months ending March 31.