Fast forward through Europe

The video recorder has become an indispensable adjunct to modern living for the average UK household, with 92 per cent of homes in this country possessing one.

Across Europe, 75 per cent of households have a VCR, with the UK having the highest penetration, and Italy and Germany the lowest, on 69 per cent and 68 per cent respectively.

But VCR manufacturers which think that Italy and Germany offer potential for sales growth would be sadly mistaken, BMRB warns.

In addition to asking about ownership of consumer durables, FutureTrack also asks about the likely purchase of them in the near future. Germany and Italy have the lowest proportion of non-VCR owners who plan to buy one over the next 12 months – just five per cent and ten per cent respectively – suggesting that VCR penetration will stay low in these two countries.

By contrast, a quarter of British non-owners (equivalent to two per cent of television-owning households), believe they will buy a VCR within the next 12 months.

Teletext is also a well-established product in European homes, but here there is rather more variation between countries. Denmark leads Europe in teletext penetration, with 87 per cent of households linked up. The lowest level of penetration is in France, where only 21 per cent have TVs equipped with teletext facilities.

This is almost certainly because of the success of France Telecom’s Minitel system, which is effectively teletext broadcast to a separate, dedicated terminal or phone with a screen built in.

Penetration of teletext in the UK stands at 78 per cent, and on average more than half of all Europeans households have TVs with teletext.

The biggest growth in teletext use is likely to be in Scandinavia and Britain, with over a quarter of non-owners intending to acquire it in the next 12 months. At the other end of the scale, only four per cent of German non-owners are likely to do so.

Growth in cable television is expected to be highest in Belgium and the UK during 1999 (20 per cent and 17 per cent respectively), while Ireland and the Netherlands are likely to see the lowest growth, just three per cent.

On average, five per cent of European television owning households plan to subscribe to cable for the first time in the next year, compared with six per cent expecting to buy a satellite dish.

Subscription to cable television already varies greatly from country to country. In Belgium and the Netherlands, cable is very widespread, with over 80 per cent of television homes subscribing.

This contrasts with Italy, where only five per cent of TV homes have cable.

Satellite television is most popular in Austria, where 43 per cent of television owning homes have a satellite dish. The equivalent figure in the UK is 21 per cent.

Given their high penetration of cable, it is no surprise to see that the lowest penetration of satellite is found in Belgium and the Netherlands (seven per cent).

However, satellite TV in Italy also stands at seven per cent, suggesting that the population has not yet been attracted away from terrestrial channels.

The largest growth in the satellite TV market looks likely to be in Ireland, where 13 per cent of households with a television plan to buy a satellite dish.

Finland, France and Italy are also likely to see higher growth than the European average of six per cent. In Britain, seven per cent of television households believe that they will buy a dish in 1999.

Digital television is just beginning in Europe and appears to be best established in France and Spain, where 10 per cent of television households receive digital broadcasts. This contrasts with only two per cent in Italy.

The Spanish are the most likely to say they will go digital (12 per cent of non-digital television households believe they will do this in 1999). In the UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark and Belgium, digital television was not available or was so recently launched that these questions were not included.

Access to pay-per-view programmes is also limited in Europe. This facility is only readily available in France, Denmark and Spain. France records the highest penetration, at eight per cent of television households.


FutureTrack was conducted by Euroquest in autumn 1998 with a random representative sample of almost 12,000 adults in 12 countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK). Interviews were conducted by telephone, with fieldwork carried out in all countries over the same period. FutureTrack covers ownership, use and buying propensity for TV, TV equipment, videos, PCs, laptops, and Internet.

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