ONdigital set-top sales rise by 34 per cent

ONdigital, the digital television platform run by Carlton and Granada, has reaped the benefits of its Christmas launch of prepaid set-top boxes with a 34 per cent increase in subscriptions since September.

Figures released this week show ONdigital has sold 552,000 subscriptions – 140,000 in the run-up to Christmas.

About half of the set-top boxes sold in December were prepaid. ONdigital chief executive Stuart Prebble says “Prepaid is creating a new market for set-top boxes, just as it did for mobile phones.”

Combined with 1.9 million subscribers to SkyDigital, 2.5 million homes now have access to digital TV, just a year after its launch.

One TV media buyer described this as “phenomenal growth.”

However, Universal McCann director of TV Andy Jones says: “Given the amount of marketing spend put behind ONdigital – £10m in the past five months – the figures are disappointing.” He calculates it has cost ONdigital £70 to recruit each customer.

Mediapolis managing partner Russell Boyman says it has been a “reasonable performance”. But he adds: “The big challenge lies ahead. Can it compete with Sky or interactive cable?”

ONdigital is to launch an e-mail and a pay-per-view service – called ONrequest – that will offer up to five channels of films and other entertainment.

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