Freeview targets Sky HD subs

Freeview says research it commissioned shows that more than 350,000 Sky+ HD homes might switch to the digital terrestrial television service in the next six months. Freeview’s HD offering will initially comprise three channels – BBC, ITV1 and Channel 4 – with a fourth, likely to be Channel Five, to be added at the end of the year.

A Freeview-commissioned YouGov survey of 2,063 adults said 17 per cent of Sky subscribers with Sky+ HD indicated they were “likely” to switch their main TV to Freeview HD, a total of about 360,000 homes.

The survey suggested 18 per cent of the remaining UK analogue TV homes were also likely to switch to Freeview HD, with a similar number in homes which had Freeview’s existing digital service. The figure fell to 12 per cent for homes with Virgin Media’s digital cable service.

“If people want sport or big budget premium movies then clearly Sky has a very strong offer. If people want a public service version of HD – BBC, ITV, Channel 4 – then Freeview has a very strong offer. Consumers will have to make up their minds what’s important to them,” Ilse Howling, the Freeview managing director told the press. Freeview will launch a big marketing push for its new HD channels, with the strapline “Buy now, watch today, free forever”.

Howling also seemed to distance Freeview from Canvas reflecting perhaps the cool relationship after the BBC Trust insisted ownership structures were kept separate. “You will see a box that will talk about Freeview and it will have the Freeview logo and whatever is the Canvas branding will also be on that box.”

The first Freeview HD STBs are expected on sale next week in London and the North West where transmissions from BBC HD and ITV1 HD have been on-air since the beginning of the year.

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