Zenith research warns of digital ’damp squib’

Digital television will not be the dramatic revolution predicted by pundits, and just 1 per cent of UK homes will be capable of receiving digital TV by the end of this year, according to the first digital forecasts from Zenith Media.

Digital television will not be the dramatic revolution predicted by

pundits, and just 1 per cent of UK homes will be capable of receiving

digital TV by the end of this year, according to the first digital

forecasts from Zenith Media.



Zenith predicts that just 245,000 households will have either digital

terrestrial, digital satellite or digital cable by the end of this year,

rising to 1.6 million by 1999 and 2.9 million by 2000.



Digital television is expected to be available in more than 30 per cent

of homes by 2005, and Zenith expects the analogue signal to be switched

off in 2013.



Against this, Zenith predicts a tailing off in adspend as a percentage

of gross domestic product, from 1.47 per cent last year to 1.39 per cent

by 2005. However, TV’s share of ad budgets is expected to rise by

2005.



Of the different digital platforms, Zenith’s ’UK Television Forecasts to

2005’ says digital terrestrial will face a harder struggle to get

established than cable or satellite.



The possibility of greater interactivity via cable TV delivery could

give digital cable an advantage over dish and digital terrestrial.

Zenith forecasts that cable homes will overtake dish homes in 2002.



Although the digital terrestrial consortium, British Digital

Broadcasting, believes it will break even with just under two million

homes, Zenith comments: ’We don’t think it will get there on its current

programme line-up.’



According to Zenith’s head of publications, Adam Smith, BDB’s main

problems will be coverage, consumer resistance and price. ’BDB’s basic

package is cheap,’ Smith said. ’But few will want basic alone and a

pay-TV price war is quite feasible.’



Zenith’s caution comes amid a row between ITV and BSkyB over carriage of

ITV on Sky’s digital satellite package. Sky has hit out at ITV’s refusal

to sign up its programming for digital satellite, but ITV has warned

that Sky is trying to ’dominate’ the future of digital television.



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