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U.K.’s Freesat gathers 1 million users

40% of sales come from BSkyB customers

LONDON — The U.K. digital TV platform Freesat, owned by the BBC and ITV, has notched up one million sales since bowing in May 2008 — with 40% of all sales coming from BSkyB subscribers, Freesat said Wednesday.

Freesat’s managing director Emma Scott said: “Our service is a great opportunity for the millions of homes with existing satellite dishes who are used to quality TV, but no longer want to pay a monthly subscription for it, and we continue to see an increasing number of viewers moving across from pay TV.”

Freesat added that 250,000 set-top boxes were sold over the Christmas and New Year period.

Relatively late into the British market, Freesat hopes its success will be boosted further by providing auds with more HD channels than its terrestrial equivalent — Freeview — and the arrival of catch-up services, the BBC iPlayer and the ITV Player, on the platform.

Other opportunities for the service are 3D TV and Canvas, also backed by the BBC and ITV. Canvas, which BSkyB is lobbying against, will bring the Internet to TV sets provided U.K. regulators greenlight the new venture.

But Freesat still has a long way to go if it is to ever seriously threaten Sky’s popularity. The paybox has around 9.7 million paying customers in the U.K. and Ireland, and is on target to reach its aim of signing up 10 million by the end of the year.