ITV1 HD, Hallmark Channel HD and Sky Sports HD 4 to join Sky over next few months as Sky+HD builds towards 50 HD channels
Sky will reach a new High Definition (HD) milestone this Summer by exceeding the 40 HD channel mark. The launch of ITV1 HD, Hallmark Channel HD and Sky Sports HD 4 will extend Sky’s HD leadership to 40 HD channels, five times more than any other HD service. As recently confirmed, Sky will also be launching Europe’s first HD news channel, Sky News HD, in the coming months, which will further increase the channel count. Sky plans to reach 50 HD channels by Christmas this year.
The addition of ITV1 HD from 2nd April means Sky+HD homes across all ITV regions will be able to watch World Cup matches live in HD, as well as other major ITV shows such as Law and Order: UK, The Prisoner, Foyles War, Lewis, Survival with Ray Mears, and Britain’s Got Talent.
Hallmark Channel HD will showcase a range of its most popular titles in HD for the first time, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Without A Trace. The channel will join the Sky platform on the 28th June.
Launching on 29th April, Sky Sports HD 4 will enable Sky Sports to build on its 9,200 hours a year of live sport in HD. This year will be the busiest ever for HD content on Sky Sports, with the schedule including The Ryder Cup, The Ashes, Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Heineken Cup and Guinness Premiership rugby plus US Open tennis.
As Europe’s most comprehensive HD service, 2.1 million Sky+HD homes can currently get access to 37 HD channels spanning entertainment, sports, movies, arts, drama, kids and documentaries, including channel brands such as Sky Sports, Sky Movies, FX, Discovery, Channel 4, Sky Arts, MTV, Nat Geo, ESPN, Disney, the BBC and Sky1.
Hilary Perchard, Sky’s Director of Product Management, comments: “It’s great news for customers that we are making our HD channel pack even better value with more high quality channels. We’re seeing record demand for HD, both in terms of the number of customers signing up for Sky+HD and the amount of HD programmes they are watching. While other TV platforms are only now recognising the growing demand for HD, we’re excited to extend our leadership even further by offering more choice to our customers. We look forward to reaching our next milestone, of 50 HD channels, by Christmas.”
Peter Fincham, ITV Director of Television, Channels and Online, said: “The availability of high definition content is something viewers have come to expect as standard and, as we approach the 2010 World Cup, I’m delighted that we are able to launch our new channel, ITV1 HD, on Sky.”
Laurence Dawkin-Jones, MD (UK) Universal Networks International, which operates the Hallmark Channel, said: “Hallmark Channel has a huge number of loyal viewers and I’m delighted that we can now deliver their favourite US shows like the Law & Order titles, CSI and Without A Trace in high definition to really maximise their enjoyment.”
Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, adds: “Sky Sports HD 4 gives our viewers even more choice in high definition sports coverage. Since May 2006 we’ve covered 15 sports in HD and this channel will allow us to accommodate the quality programming our subscribers expect.”
Sky recently standardised its set-top strategy by automatically offering a Sky+HD box to anyone joining Sky TV, and all new and existing customers can receive the box for free when subscribing to the Sky+HD channel pack for the first time.
The Sky+HD box not only provides access to Europe’s most comprehensive HD service and Sky’s new HD electronic programme guide (EPG), but later this year it will also offer customers access to full broadband-enabled video-on-demand service and Sky 3D, Europe’s first 3D TV channel. Sky intends to launch Sky 3D to pubs and clubs in April before reaching residential homes later this year once 3D TVs begin to reach homes.
Notes to editors
ITV1 HD will be available to Sky customers in England and Wales.
Sky operates the most comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in the UK and Ireland. Over 9.7 million homes enjoy an unprecedented choice of movies, news, entertainment and sports channels. Sky continues to break new ground with its own portfolio of channels: Sky1 combines its commitment to UK production with the best of the US; Sky Arts continues to embrace new audiences as the UK’s only dedicated arts channel brand; Sky Sports is still raising the bar in sports broadcasting; and Sky News remains a pioneer in multiplatform television news.
Almost 6.5 million Sky homes now enjoy the control and flexibility of Sky+ and 2.1 million homes have already joined Sky+HD, which provides access to 37 dedicated HD channels and future innovative services such broadband-enabled video-on-demand and 3D TV.
Sky has also been the UK’s fastest growing broadband and fixed-telephony provider for the last two years.