Advanced Television

UK pay-TV best value

December 13, 2007

UK families enjoy some of the lowest prices for telephone, broadband and television in Europe, and more households are buying bundles of these services, according to Ofcom. Britain had the best value “triple play” deal in 2006 when compared with similar packages in France, Germany, Italy and the US, the survey found.

The survey also highlighted how the UK was leading the world in the take-up of digital TV, and that Britain was second only to the US in the proportion of women surfing the internet. About 40 per cent of UK households had bundles by March this year, compared with 29 per cent at the same time last year, according to Ofcom’s 2007 international communications market report. British Sky Broadcasting, Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media launched bundles last year.

Ofcom made comparisons between countries by looking at the needs of five different households, ranging from a retired couple to a family with two children. The UK had the lowest prices in 2006 for a basket of services based around a triple play deal of fixed-line phone, broadband and basic rather than premium pay-TV.

These services, which also included mobile phones, together cost £104 (E150) per month. That compared with £105 for equivalent services in France, £113 in Italy, £115 in Germany and £191 in the US. The UK was not always the best value. For example, it had the most expensive fixed-line phone deal for a retired couple compared with France, Germany, Italy and the US.

By the end of last year, 76 per cent of UK households had digital TV, compared with 67 per cent in Japan and 61 per cent in the US. France, Germany and Italy were also lower compared with the UK, which has seen take-up of digital TV driven by sales of the Freeview set-top box.

Most people thought the Internet had not changed their consumption of traditional media, such as television. In the UK, 63 per cent of Internet users said their TV viewing habits were unchanged, but 30 per cent watched less television off-line since they started using the web.

The UK does not have a leading position in broadband take-up, although some countries have worse records. Ofcom found 52 per cent of UK households had high speed internet access in 2006, compared with 74 per cent in the Netherlands.

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