The new channels: BBC Three HD, BBC Four HD, BBC News HD, CBeebies HD and CBBC HD will be available on Freeview HD, Freesat HD, YouView, Sky HD and Virgin Media. Viewers will also be able to catch-up on HD programmes from these channels on BBC iPlayer.
The channels will be launching in time for Christmas, so viewers will be able to access more of their favourite festive treats in the highest quality from the comfort of their sofas or on-the-go via BBC iPlayer.
Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said: “I am delighted that we’re able to launch our new HD channels in time for Christmas, when families gather together to enjoy some of the best TV from the BBC. This year, people will be able to watch even more of our programmes in brilliant quality.”
All five new HD channels will broadcast the same programmes as their standard definition equivalents in HD.
Over 50 per cent of homes in the UK are already HD enabled, with reports estimating that the number of HD homes is expected to grow to reach over 20 million (80 per cent of all UK homes) by 2016 and over 23 million homes (90 per cent of all UK homes) by 2019.
The initiative follows the successful launch of BBC One HD in 2010 and, in the past 15 months, BBC One Scotland HD, BBC One Wales HD, BBC One Northern Ireland HD and BBC Two HD.
On digital terrestrial television (Freeview HD and YouView), BBC Three HD and CBBC HD will use capacity on the BBC’s existing HD multiplex, which has universal coverage of UK homes. BBC News HD, BBC Four HD and CBeebies HD will use new HD capacity, which will extend to cover 70 per cent of UK homes by the Wimbledon Championships in June 2014.
With 11 free HD channels available to viewers, Freesat will also launch an HD genre in the New Year. Across all existing and new HD Freesat Set Top Boxes and IDTV’s, this new genre will help viewers find the biggest range of free HD channels, all in one place.
Emma Scott, Freesat’s Managing Director, said: “This is the perfect Christmas present for Freesat customers offering more great ways to watch what will be a bumper festive season, so you can see more of the antics from The Call Centre Christmas on BBC Three HD or enjoy the delights of Mouse and Mole at Christmas Time on CBeebies HD. And there’s more to come in the New Year with a Freesat HD genre on screen making it easier for viewers to find all this stunning HD content. We know that over 50 per cent of homes in the UK are HD-enabled, and every week, more than four million viewers enjoy their favourite TV on Freesat.”
“This is part of our continued drive to deliver the best subscription-free TV service to the UK, as we continue to add new channels and On Demand services, delivered through award winning TV products,” she added.
Ilse Howling, Managing Director at Freeview said: “We are really pleased to be more than doubling the number of HD channels available to Freeview viewers. Freeview HD is already enjoyed in 3.4 million UK homes and these additional channels will allow them to watch even more of their favourite programmes for free, in stunning HD.”