HDTV lovers in the UK will have reason to be extra cheerful this festive season, with the news that the BBC is to launch five more subscription-free high-def channels later this week.
The new, free-to-air channels – BBC3 HD, BBC4 HD, CBeebies HD, BBC News HD and CBBC HD – will begin broadcasting from tomorrow, allowing viewers to watch hit shows like Family Guy and Shaun The Sheep in glorious high definition without needing a Sky or Virgin Media subscription for the first time. All five channels will be available to watch on Freesat HD, Freeview HD, Sky+HD, YouView and Virgin Media, said the public service broadcaster. In addition, programmes from the news channels will be available via the BBC iPlayer’s catch-up feature.
BBC Director General Tony Hall said that the timing of the channel’s launch is especially important, allowing viewers to watch even more of their favourite shows in great quality.
“We’re delighted that we’ve managed to launch the new HD channels just before Christmas, as it’s the time when families traditionally gather together to watch their favourite programmes,” stated Hall.
The BBC was of course one of the earliest proponents of HD broadcasting, having launched its original BBC HD channel back in 2006. Back then, the channel broadcast a range of content from across its various channels. Four years later, in 2010, the Beeb followed up with the launch of BBC1 HD, before BBC2 HD and various regional high-definition channels hit our screens earlier this year.
To date, it’s believed that more than 50 percent of UK households now possess HD-enabled TVs, and this figure is set to rise 90 percent by 2019.
Regarding plans for the new channel’s broadcast spectrum, the organisation said that BBC Three HD and CBBC HD will use its existing capacity on YouView and Freeview HD, which are available in all UK homes. However, BBC News HD, BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD will be broadcast on new capacity, and at the time of launch will only be available in roughly 70 percent of homes.