86% of homes expected to switch by 2012

LONDON — Europe is rushing headlong to an all-digital TV future, according to research published by Informa Telecoms and Media.

Penetration of digital TV in Western European households will break the 50% barrier by the end of the year and by 2012 hit 86%, representing some 135 million homes, according to the researchers.

“Convergence through triple- and quadruple-play is gaining traction,” said the forecast’s co-author, Ted Hall. “The public are increasingly demanding full-service products that can offer traditional broadcast TV plus a range of other services, such as pay TV, HDTV, VOD, broadband and telephony services. TV companies and telcos are jostling for position to fulfill this growing demand.”

Blighty still remains the leader in take-up of digital TV services, but other European markets are beginning to catch up.

The U.K. accounts for 26% of the region’s digital TV homes, followed by France with 22% and Germany at 14%.

Informa media research manager Adam Thomas said: “During 2006, 16.7 million TV households upgraded to digital in Western Europe. By the end of 2012, a further 72.9 million will make the same transition.”

Of the 15 countries studied, six, including the U.K. and France, are expected to be all-digital by 2012.

The findings are published in the 11th edition of Informa’s Western European TV report.

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