Freesat hits the 2 million mark in UK

Poaches majority of 2011's new customers from Sky, half of them in fact
Darren Allan

September 7, 2011
Freesat Box

Freesat has just sold its two millionth unit in the UK.

That’s in the last three years of the free satellite TV service’s operation, and it has exceeded original sales projections considerably, notching up almost £1 billion gross retail revenue.

The vast majority of those sales – 82% – were of HD set top boxes and HDTVs with Freesat built-in.

Emma Scott, Freesat’s Managing Director, commented: “We launched three years ago and in that short time have quickly established ourselves as a real challenger and genuine alternative to pay-TV.”

“With five HD channels, access to the BBC and ITV Players, as well as Freesat+ all available subscription-free, we’re giving customers a high quality service without a high price.”

Freesat’s figures show that the service – which offers in excess of 150 channels, TV, radio and interactive services such as the iPlayer – is the fastest growing TV platform in the UK.

In the second quarter of this year, 88,000 households became Freesat viewers, compared to 40,000 who joined Sky. And what’s more, Freesat seems to be poaching the majority of its customers from Sky.

In fact, 47% of Freesat’s new customers this year have switched across from Sky. 35% have come from Freeview, and only 7% from analogue terrestrial driven TV sets – so Freesat notes that the digitial switchover coming to an end next year won’t drastically affect its take-up.

While these figures might be based on Freesat’s own customer research, they’re shared with and used by Ofcom as part of its communications market report.

Ofcom’s own research also broadly tallies with the sentiment, showing that in Q1 of 2011, there were well over double the amount of free-to-air satellite customers signing up than pay TV services such as Sky.

Analysts have also been predicting the slowing in growth of pay TV.

Simon Murray of Digital TV Research authored a recent UK report which stated: “Digital TV penetration has almost reached saturation point as it exceeds 95%.”

“Free-to-air services are responsible for much of the recent digital TV growth. Digital pay TV penetration is not expected to climb much and will remain below 58% of TV households.”

Pay TV revenue in the UK is expected to reach $9.3 billion this year, but it’s thought it will only increase marginally to $9.6 billion over the next five years.

Effectively, it seems as if Sky and other subscription services are now relatively stagnant, with the likes of Freesat moving up a gear.

That’s no real surprise in these recession dominated times, with people thinking about their wallets and whether they want to fork out a minimum of £20 per month to watch TV.

Freesat is promising twice yearly updates on its market performance from now on, and early next year is set to launch the next stage of its product development.


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