Freeview's sales surge by 64 per cent to all-time high

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The Independent Online

The digital terrestrial television service Freeview's sales hit an all-time high last year, with the 9.7 million products rising 64 per cent on the previous 12 months.

And the Christmas period, traditionally the best-performing quarter for consumer electronics, was also record-beating, contributing 3.8 million sales to the annual total. The average sales for each quarter was 2.5 million.

Alongside the set-top box, Freeview's multiple digital terrestrial channels are also accessible through next-generation television sets and through transmitters built into home computers.

More than half the homes in Britain now have Freeview, according to Ilse Howling, the firm's general manager. "It is passing the tipping point where the service becomes something a great many people have," she said.

But the figures may be misleading, Gartner's media analyst Adam Daum said. About 5 million of the 9.7 million sales were receivers bundled into new TV sets, so customers may be buying Freeview by default rather than by design.

"People may be getting home and plugging their new TV set into a Sky box and not using the Freeview functionality at all," Mr Daum said.

The big pushes for Freeview in the coming year will be the company's Playback digital recorder, which enables users to pause, rewind or record live television, and the conversion of householders' secondary TV sets.

But though 85 per cent of homes are now digital, Mr Daum said: "What Freeview really needs to do is expand more into analogue households because the signs are that is slowing dramatically."