Freesat Sales SD/HD Ratio

This is a guest post by AndrewM following his enlightening email.

I was looking at Ofcom’s recently published Digital Television Update/Progress Report for Q4 2008 (press release: – overview with link to full PDF: and I noticed that in these reports they not only give the cumulative number
of Freesat unit sales figure for each quarter, they also say how many of the Freesat products sold are HD-capable. Looking at reports for Q2 and Q3 as well, I realised that from this information I was able to piece
together the complete picture of how many SD and HD units were sold in each quarter.

Note that Q2 figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand, and the percentages of HD equipment have been rounded to the nearest whole number. The original Freesat sales figures that I used to do the sums (Ofcom don’t lay it all out in a nice easy-to-read table, some math was required ;)) are found on page 15 of each of the reports.

Freesat unit sales – 2008

Q2 2008: 39,000 units (15,000 SD and 24,000 HD) (61% HD) [1]
Q3 2008: 69,000 units (20,000 SD and 49,000 HD) (71% HD) [2]
Q4 2008: 125,000 units (26,000 SD and 99,000 HD) (79% HD) [3]

Total sales for 2008: 233,000 units (61,000 SD and 172,000 HD) (74% HD) [3]

[1] [sic] (for some reason, they didn’t add .pdf to the end of the file name)

It’s interesting to see that the number (and proportion) of HD boxes sold has increased so much, just about doubling every quarter (although I don’t expect that to continue into Q1 2009 of course given the distorting effect of Christmas on Q4 sales).

18 thoughts on “Freesat Sales SD/HD Ratio”

  1. An impressive HD percentage, I wonder if that’s why they seem to have dropped SD box sales. Hopefully these kind of figures will drive HD forward on Freesat…roll on C4HD and an extended ITV HD service.

  2. Right from the start there was a shortage of SD boxes. I chased around for 2 or 3 months looking for an affordable box before finding a Goodmans SD at a Currys about 20 miles away. During that search I was regularly brainwashed by sales staff into believing that my life would not be complete without an HD box – even without an HD TV! HD boxes were what they were offering (and, for those people taking the dish-install option, it mattered not that there were no boxes in store) and HD boxes offered better profits.

    Given the way the market has operated, I am not surprised by AndrewM’s figures – even with virtually no HD service to receive on these boxes.

  3. Very interesting numbers. It would be nice to know how many boxes per household and how many were bought as second boxes to their sky boxes. I did consider getting a freesat box just to get ITV HD but it was not worth it for one or two progams per week. In any case my Sky box can get ITV HD now. HD seems to be the the main driving force to Freesat.

  4. Trevor Harris says “HD seems to be the the main driving force to Freesat.” – even though there is very little content and no short-term prospect of improvement. Is Freesat being mis-sold by the retailers?

    Freeview seems to offer better prospect of a selection of HD channels by the end of the year. And, of course, there is always $ky. Should Trevor have said “FREE HD seems to be the the main driving force to Freesat.”?

  5. Very positive figures, I guess this is likely to be the early adopters ( like us) driving this figures forward. I see the sense in HD and SD offerings. Yes profits are greater for retailers; but HD will be the norm in the not too distant future. My neighbours bought a Goodmans SD box, and I can safely say that I’m so glad I held on and bought Freesat+; buying SD now would be throwing money away. I tell all my friends to buy HD now. It would be good to know how many HDRs have been sold in this figures as well, i think that is the acid test for driving Freesat forward, for the first time I don’t have a traditional tape VCR and the quality is so much better, it’s definitely a digital future.

  6. Just shows how much demand there is for HD.

    I wonder if the BBC are still going to continue to stick their heads in sand about HD given these figures?

    @ Freesatsceptic. I doubt these figures have anything to do with SD being in short supply as the Humax HDR HD box has been on short supply also.

    These figures clearly show the public appetite and demand for HD material.

  7. @HD Sceptic: I would be rather surprised if Freesat doesn’t match Freeview in terms of free HD content by the end of the year; as I said in one of my other comments ( ) I don’t see why ITV would run separate versions of ITV HD for Freeview and Freesat, so ITV’s plans for ITV HD on Freeview, including 40-50% of original peak-time content in HD in 2010, should apply to Freesat as well.

    Also, if we assume a conservative estimate of 60,000 HD units sold on average for every quarter this year (obviously Q4 is likely to be a lot higher), that would mean that more than 400,000 HD Freesat units will have been sold in total by the end of this year, which represents a not-insignificant potential audience for Channel 4 HD on Freesat. While of course nobody outside of Channel 4 and Sky knows for sure, I think it’s quite likely that they’ll go FTA and join Freesat this year (maybe they’ll even launch simultaneously on Freeview and Freesat).

  8. I would point out to HD Sceptic that no HD television is free. The BBC is a subcription service which costs £142.40 per year and ITV and Channel 4 recieve government subsidies and so tax payers are paying. I am suprised that Advertising Standards have not questioned Freesat over some of its advertising.

  9. As for ITV showning 40-50% of the peak time viewing in HD by 2010 well I don’t think that will happen. Most of their drama seems to be shot in super 16mm film, which is ok for SD but not good enough for HD. A good example was the Lewis series which has just finished which was very poor compaired with The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency on BBC. Going to 32mm film would be quite expensive for ITV in the present economic climate.

  10. @Trevor Harris – you appear not to know the difference between a Tax and a Subscription, hence your suprise at ASA’s ‘apparent’ inaction.

    HD Sceptic makes a very valid point, given that the figures presented show Freesat HD sales are outstripping Freesat SD sales by 3:1 and has reported on the shortage of SD box several time, it seems reasonable to question how skewed the market is because of the lack of supply of the Freesat SD product.

    See here for more insight:

  11. #8 Trevor Harris – everyone who watches TV has to pay the licence fee, whatever they watch. The HD service is an add-on which attracts no extra charge. Similarly ITV HD and Ch4HD when (if?) it comes. The Linux community have had fun for years trying to define “free”. $ky viewers who want HD have to pay extra for the privilege. For them it is “not free” in a different way from the way you feel is “not free” for you.

    The Freesat advertising tells you that you have to buy the viewing equipment, but there are no recurrent costs in the form of subscriptions, etc. How do you find that misleading?

    Commercial TV is funded from advertising revenues, which are recovered from the cost of goods which we buy. In that sense, ultimately, nothing is free.

  12. Sorry Chaps I know this is a change of topic, but i noticed a full page spread of a Freesat Advert in the News of The World this weekend, i was surprised but glad to see.
    I have been looking for the Q1 reports from Ofcom on the sales for Freesat as i read they where projected to be 300,000 sold. I purchased a Humax Hd last June, sold it on and bought HDR in November and fitted 8 SD for friends and family

  13. I think HD Sceptic has hit on a good point, everything has to be paid for somehow, or as they say in economics:

    “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

  14. @ Trevor Harris(post 9) I doubt ITV would go to 32mm anyway. Film is finished. Digital is the future.

    It’s almost certain that ITV would purchase digital cameras to shoot HD and it’s almost certain they’re already doing this or have budgeted for it anyway.

    The Red One has already been used to shoot several blockbuster movies, is over HD resolution and doesn’t cost a fortune.

    The Red Scarlets are due out soon and come in sensor options up to 30MP (Full HD is 2MP!!!).

    I see very little reason therefore why ITV couldn’t make the move to HD not least of which because a move to digital does away with film stock costs and processing costs.

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