Sky has confirmed plans of a wider closedown of SD channels next year, in addition to making technical changes to the satellite broadcast signals that will cause older Sky SD boxes to lose channels.
This follows the appearance online of recent letters issued to Sky SD-only subscribers. Sky confirms these are genuine and they are making changes to services in March.
Following the BBC’s lead in switching off standard definition channels and a subsequent announcement by ITV that it will start migrating more of its regions to HD-only in January, Sky says it will be making changes in March 2024.
As a result, some channels currently simulcasting in SD and HD will cease SD broadcasts. Sky piloted the process last month when it dropped the SD version of the new Sky Mix channel that replaced Pick.
However, as Sky subscribers will be aware, some channels are not available in HD unless viewers pay extra. Consequently, Sky will be making technical changes that will disable older SD boxes, but allow the pay TV company to continue offering both SD and HD channels.
Following the lead set by Sky’s German division, Sky is reconfiguring some SD services to run on DVB-S2 transponders. This means that older DVB-S only receivers – i.e. the original generation Sky digiboxes and Sky+ boxes will cease to receive services.
These receivers will begin losing channels in January when the BBC and ITV make their changes. Then in March, many of the core Sky subscription services will follow.
This will also have implications for viewers in the Republic of Ireland, who may have felt unaffected by changes to UK broadcasters.
Sky+ HD boxes (despite having lost some of their functionality recently) and Sky Q receivers will continue to receive services as normal.
Switching services to DVB-S2 will allow Sky to fit more channels per transponder, in turn helping reduce the number of transponders it needs to use to broadcast its satellite TV service.
Sky hasn’t at this stage confirmed which broadcasters and channels will be specifically affected.
How this will be communicated to viewers will depend on the individual broadcaster’s relationship with Sky, whereby they may leave viewer communications to Sky or issue their own comms.
ITV has so far only chosen to communicate directly to viewers about changes to its core public service channel ITV 1, even though there are changes to its commercial offshoot ITVBe coming soon.
Incidentally, Sky’s planned changes in March 2024 would have coincided with the BBC’s previously announced timeline for SD channel closure had it not changed its plans. The BBC decided to bring the SD channel closedown forward by two months to 8th January 2024.
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