Freeview now in 22% of homes - and beating Sky TV in HD

If Freeview's installed base figures accurately reflect those actually watching the service, the free-to-air platform is now ahead of Sky TV in HD (high definition) penetration.

If Freeview's installed base figures accurately reflect those actually watching the service, the free-to-air platform is now ahead of Sky TV in HD (high definition) penetration.

According to a Freeview statement this afternoon, Freeview had its best ever sales for the final three months of 2009 - a period that coincided with TVNZ and Telecom's launch of TiVo, which takes its broadcast feed from Freeview HD (TiVo would not comment on sales; NBR is picking they would be modest while Sky TV continues to with-hold listings for Prime. Freeview's secret sauce remains flat panel TVs from market leaders Sony, Samsung and Panasonic sold with built-in Freeview HD tuners).

According to Freeview, the total number of households able to receive Freeview at 346,116, or 21.6% of NZ homes.

This figure combines the 189,708 Freeview satellite homes (an increase of 11,791 from the last quarter) and 156,408 Freeview HD homes (an increase of 42,354 from the last quarter).

In its most recent quarterly result, Sky TV (NZX: SKT) said its MySkyHDi set-top box had an installed base of 120,000 - although it was targeting 40,000 more subscriptions by June this year.

Sky TV boss John Fellet told NBR that Freeview's numbers are artificially high, because many people who buy a TV with a FreeviewHD tuner built-in never use it, watching Sky instead.

Freeview counters that only a small minority of MySkyHDi users shell out extra for the HD Ticket that lets them watch HD versions of selected channels - whereas all Freeview HD content is free all of the time.