ITV closing SD streams for small regions?

Last updated: Friday 16th October 2020.

A little postscript to the news that all ITV’s regions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be available in HD from Tuesday.

ITV appears to be planning to shut the SD satellite streams of some of its smallest regions. The information given to Meridian and Border viewers on the ITV News website points to this possibility.

Border viewers in Cumbria with SD satellite equipment may receive Border Scotland from next week. It also appears some Meridian SD satellite viewers may no longer get the correct sub-region.

From Tuesday, ITV HD will be on 103 across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The overwhelming majority of Sky and Freesat viewers now have HD boxes. Even Sky customers who don’t have HD subscriptions usually have HD boxes so they can receive free-to-air channels such as ITV in HD.

A small number of people with old equipment – realistically at least 10 years old – may still be dependent on the SD feeds of free-to-air channels though.

So what might ITV do with the space freed up if two SD streams close?

There will be speculation that +1 versions of Channel and Border may finally be available on satellite. (Border viewers receive Granada+1 while there is no such service at all in the Channel Islands.)

Inevitably it starts to raise the possibility too of whether other ITV regions may gradually lose their SD satellite feeds. The question is how many viewers depend on them.

Simply duplicating SD and HD services on satellite increasingly seems unnecessary as so many now have HD reception equipment.

However there are occasions when this will happen for commercial reasons – notably when, as with ITV and Channel 4 spin-off channels, the SD version is free-to-air but the HD version is behind a paywall.

UPDATE: on Friday 16th October, the following changes were confirmed via the Sky website:

ITV is making some changes to increase their HD offering.

On 20th October, ITV HD launches in Yorkshire East, Central East, Anglia West, Meridian North and Meridian South.

Also on 20th October 2020, ITV SD closes in Border England, Anglia West, Meridian North and Yorkshire East. ITV+1 closes in Anglia, West, Tyne Tees, Westcountry, Wales and Yorkshire. These closing ITV SD and ITV+1 services will be replaced by larger regions.

sky.com

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Posted by Andrew Nairn

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