€93m spent on Saorview TVs ahead of analogue switch-off
CONSUMERS HAVE spent more than €93 million on Saorview-approved television sets over the past 18 months, according to figures compiled by retail research firm Growth for Knowledge.
In June, six out of 10 televisions sold in Ireland were Saorview-approved, while sales of Saorview-approved sets during the month came to 14,500, up 12 per cent on May.
The beleaguered television retail market as a whole performed relatively well in June as consumers purchased large-screen HD sets ahead of the Euro 2012 football tournament.
About 183,000 Saorview-approved televisions sets were sold in the 18 months from January 2011 to June 2012, while 433,500 MPEG 4 TVs – which can get Saorview, but are unable to access RTÉ’s Aertel Digital service – were also sold in the same period.
However, Mary Curtis, director of digital switchover for RTÉ, said it was likely most of the purchases to date had been made by householders who already had access to cable or satellite and were not in the switchover campaign’s “core” target group.
Saorview, the RTÉ unit charged with the responsibility of rolling out free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT), estimates that as of May, about 350,000 homes still needed to take action before the Europe-wide analogue television switch-off date of October 24th.
“The worrying thing is that people who need to buy it are sitting on their hands a little bit,” said Ms Curtis. “That’s just human nature.”
AGB Nielsen research carried out in May indicates that about 250,000 people belong to the “core” target group of people who rely on aerials as their only means of accessing channels.
A further 100,000 people are thought to own secondary analogue-only sets for which they will soon need either a replacement set or the cheaper option of a set-top box.
Saorview estimates that about 80,000 set-top boxes have been sold to date.
Its retail team is liaising with stores around the country to ensure they carry sufficient stock ahead of its information roadshows.
“There will be lots of TVs,” Ms Curtis said.
“The issue is the set-top box, but at the moment it looks like there will be enough.”
The former general manager of Panasonic Ireland, Michael O’Shea, joined RTÉ as Saorview’s business development manager in April to oversee its relationship with retailers.
Presenters Ryan Tubridy and Colette Fitzpatrick are fronting an in-store video explaining why some viewers will need to take action, while Saorview ramps up its television advertising campaign next week.