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Freesat HD Advantage Hit By UK’s Euro Football Absence

by David Mercer | 5月 06, 2008

Today's launch of the first dedicated free-to-air satellite service, Freesat, will help inject some much-needed competition into the UK's HDTV market. Even though its HD performance has been disappointing, Sky Digital remains the only major source of HD broadcast content in the country, notwithstanding Virgin Media’s offer of on-demand HD video. Freesat has been four years in the making and is a joint venture initiative of the BBC and ITV. 17.9% of the latter, of course, is still owned by BSkyB. Although Sky has been directed by Ofcom to reduce this stake, the matter is currently under appeal. Whatever the result of that lengthy dispute, Sky’s holding does not seem to have prevented ITV taking the significant decision to restrict its own soon-to-be-launched HD service to the Freesat platform, thus providing Freesat with a competitive advantage over Sky’s HD service, whose paying subscribers will not be able to see ITV HD. How much of a disadvantage that is for Sky, only time will tell. But given the paucity of choice in HD broadcasting today, and the continued popularity of ITV programmes, it should at least provide some pressure on Sky. The other HD channel on Freesat, BBC HD, is also available to Sky viewers. ITV and the BBC, more than most, will be regretting the exit of England and the other home nations from the finals of the European Championships, for which they will be providing live coverage. Live games in HD could have provided a significant boost to Freesat uptake. The major difference from Sky of course is that Freesat viewers will not have to pay a monthly subscription for their HD programmes. BBC and ITV alone would not appear to be a huge attraction for viewers to buy and install new HD set-top boxes at £200 or more, so much will depend on persuading other channels to launch HD over the coming months. As we have discussed, free-to-air HDTV (excluding well-funded public broadcasters like the BBC) is a challenging business model until wider platform reach has been established, so we can expect Sky to continue to lead in HDTV service adoption. But competition is usually a good thing, and Freesat will put modest additional pressure on Sky to improve its own range of channels and bring costs down. Freesat channels at launch are listed below (EPG channel numbers in brackets). There are in fact around 40 discreet mainstream TV channels. The remaining 80 comprise shopping, radio and regional feeds of the main BBC and ITV channels. Entertainment (101-199) BBC One (101) BBC Two (102) ITV1 (103) C4 / S4C in Wales (104) BBC Three (106) BBC Four (107) BBC HD (108) ITV2 (113) ITV3 (115) ITV3+1 (116) ITV4 (117) S4C Digidol / C4 in Wales (120) E4 (122) More4 (124) Zone Romantica (135) Zone Thriller (137) News and Sport (200-299) BBC News (200) BBC Parliament (201) S4C2 (202) Al-Jazeera English (203) Euronews (204) Movies (300-399) Film4 (300) True Movies (302) True Movies2 (303) Movies4Men (304) Movies4Men2 (306) Lifestyle (400-499) Wedding TV (402) Overseas Property Channel (411) Men and Motors (450) Music (500-599) Chartshow TV (500) The Vault (501) Scuzz (502) Bubble Hits (503) B4U Music (504) Children (600-649) CBBC (600) CBeebies (601) CiTV (602) POP (603) POPGirl (604) Tiny POP(605) Special Interest (650-699) Teachers TV (650) Radio (700-799) BBC Radio 1 (700) 1Xtra BBC (701) BBC Radio 2 (702) BBC Radio 3 (703) BBC Radio 4 FM (704) BBC Radio 4 LW (705) BBC Radio Five Live (706) BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra (707) BBC 6 Music (708) BBC 7 (709) BBC Asian Network (710) BBC World Service (711) BBC Radio Scotland (712) BBC Radio nan Gaidheal (713) BBC Radio Wales (714) BBC Radio Cymru (715) BBC Radio Ulster (716) BBC London 94.9 (718) Shopping (800-849) QVC (800) Price Drop TV (801) Bid TV (802) Pitch TV (803) JML Lifestyle (810) Interactive (900-949) BBCi Regional (950-999) also accessible via BBC One/BBC Two BBC One London (950) BBC One Channel Islands (951) BBC One East (W) (954) BBC One Northern Ireland (957) BBC One Scotland (960) BBC One Wales (964) BBC Two England (968) BBC Two Northern Ireland (969) BBC Two Scotland (970) BBC Two Wales (971) ITV regionals accessed via ITV1 London (not listed separately) Ulster STV Scottish East STV Scottish West ITV1 Wales ITV1 Border England ITV1 Central West ITV1 Granada ITV1 Anglia East Channel TV STV Grampian North Client Reading: HDTV Channels Shut Down: A Sign Of Things To Come? Add to Technorati Favorites
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