BBC Launches Five New HD Channels


Today, the BBC  launched five new HD simulcast channels, extending its HD services to its more minority output.

The new channels – BBC Three HD, BBC Four HD, BBC News HD, CBeebies HD and CBBC HD –  are available on the usual mix of platforms and the rollout sees the Corporation’s roster grow to seven HD channels. All are free to air and some, such as CBeebies HD (aimed at pre-school children) are impressively niche.

Currently, a shade over 50% of homes in the UK are HD enabled, with estimates suggesting that this will rise to over 90% by 2019. BBC Three HD and CBBC HD will use existing BBC HD capacity on its DTT platforms, Freeview HD and YouView, which covers the vast majority of UK homes. The new channels for BBC News, BBC Four and CBeebies will use new HD capacity, which will cover 70% of UK homes by June next year.

Perhaps most impressive is the speed with which they have been rolled out, the BBC’s announcement of their launch on Monday taking much of the industry by surprise. Writing in her  blog, the director of BBC distribution, Alix Pryde, said: “In July 2013, we confirmed our intention to launch our five new HD channels by early 2014. But we couldn’t resist the possibility of being able to deliver these early, in time to give them to you for Christmas.”

“It’s said that launching a channel takes at least six months. We will have managed to launch five channels in five months. So I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the brilliant team of dedicated professionals, across the BBC, our suppliers and our platform partners, who have been pulling out all the stops to achieve this for our audiences.”

All five new HD channels broadcast the same programmes as their standard definition equivalents in HD and, for the first time, they will swap in the various platform EPGs. “One goal in our approach to distributing our channels is to put the ‘best’ version of a channel first in the EPG, where the ‘best’ version has the right availability of nations or regional content, followed by the highest picture quality,” says Pryde. “We also factor in whether the channel has been technically enabled to launch our much-valued BBC Red Button services.”


Broadcast Beat