The major channels all broadcast in HD, but those lower down the grid are still waiting change, writes Julian Clover.
Chatting with an exec from a middle-sized channel in the week he told me that there were no immediate plans to move into high definition broadcasts.
The reason given was that generally his private investors didn’t fancy investing a sizeable portion of cash just ahead of the time when they might reasonably expect to recoup their investment.
This of course set me thinking; who out of the main channels broadcasting in the UK is still left to make the move and do they actually have a need.
It’s long since been said that commercial broadcasters don’t get to charge anything extra to advertisers just because they happen to be broadcasting in HD. That said you can bet that RTL was thankful that it was able to reach agreement with Kabel Deutschland for distribution of its channels. Equally it may be that KDG realized it could not live without them any longer.
In the UK the main commercial and public broadcasters have simulcasts of the majority of their services. The BBC HD channel will become BBC Two after the Olympics.
But there are some surprises. Sky 2, Sky Living it and Sky Living it +1 are all still standard def. Indeed it is the +1 channels that are more likely than not to still be seen in SD.
It is a logical move; if you choose to do so it’s possible not only to watch the programme an hour earlier in HD, but the chances are you will also have a recorder to set for later viewing.
Round about 40 channels into the Sky EPG there is a marked change. This is the entertainment section and before it are the banker channels from PSBs and the big commercial groups that include Universal, UKTV, MTV Networks and many channels from Sky itself.
Before 140 the channels are mostly HD, reflecting their popularity, which in many cases gave them their higher places in the grid. After 140 you’re more likely to find standard def, the exception being the HD versions of the PSBs that have kept their SD versions higher up the grid for the sake of regionalized news and advertising.
The lowest HD channel in the Entertainment section was Good Food at 247.
As is to be expected movies and sports lead with HD content; again it is those less popular channels that have yet to make the change – a surprise that Film 4 is still in SD – and the same to be said for Turner Classic Movies.
In News just Sky News and NHK are in the HD format – NHK no longer having a standard definition equivalent. CNN, which has HD feeds in the US is still in SD,
On our own newsdesk we know that the excitement of an HD channel isn’t what it once was, but equally it’s clear that this transition will be a slow progress.