This has been an important week for the development of HD television. It is fast becoming the norm for major channels.
It will close more SD ITV 1 regions in January.
Then Sky surprised many by making the revamped Pick TV, now branded as Sky Mix, available in HD to Freesat viewers.
This appears to indicate a change in policy by the company which had previously only made its own HD channels available to subscribers.
It is increasingly hard to justify the cost of providing separate SD and HD versions of the same channel on satellite.
At least 98pc of satellite viewers have HD equipment – the low response rate to the help scheme set up in anticipation of the closure of BBC SD services suggests the figure may be even higher. Perhaps some SD boxes are lying dormant?
I would bet that ITV will close all its SD feeds within months. It is hard to imagine any row over this once BBC SD services cease.
ITV could conceivably upgrade ITVBe to HD on satellite leaving only the various plus one services in SD.
Might Channel 4 also drop its SD variants – perhaps freeing up transponder space and allowing channels like E4 and Film4 to broadcast in the clear on HD?
Other commercial broadcasters will face similar dilemmas.
But the effect of all this is to further enhance Freesat as the best option for discriminating viewers who don’t want pay TV.
The amount of HD on offer puts it leagues ahead of Freeview.
There is now a reason for people who can receive the full Freeview service to invest in Freesat.
This could provide a good marketing opportunity.
But this also highlights the danger of Freeview becoming a legacy service – SD for those who only want SD, the cheap service for those who can’t afford the cost of a Freesat installation or who don’t watch much TV.
It is high time to make the necessary technical changes to allow a wider range of HD channels on Freeview. This is becoming urgent.