More than half - 51 per cent - of new digital viewers opt for Freeview, with 31 per cent preferring Sky Digital and 24 per cent choosing digital cable, according to Ipsos Media's 4,000-strong quarterly DART panel.
Freeview, which reaches more than five million homes, accounts for 42 per cent of digital households while Sky (which has 7.8 million subscribers) and other pay platforms account for 58 per cent.
The news of Freeview's popularity comes as the BBC gears up for a major TV campaign to promote its digital services, including Freeview. An ad, through BBC Broadcast and directed by Conkerco, will air from 1 November.
It features millions of faces which build up to create a single face, symbolising Freeview as part of the BBC's commitment to the British public.
However, the Ipsos research shows that the BBC and the Government could face an uphill struggle in converting people to digital. Of those who still watch terrestrial-only channels, 7 per cent say they are likely to switch to digital within the next year.
Meanwhile, new research is set to show that the threat to advertising posed by personal video recorders such as Sky + may not be as serious as first thought. Sources suggest new audience measurement from Barb, which for the first time will include viewing on PVRs, could show that only 15 per cent of viewing in homes with PVRs is recorded.
This figure could provide a boost for advertisers concerned about viewers using PVRs to skip ad breaks.