Five and Sky have jointly announced the launch of Five HD this summer, less than 48-hours after the regulator Ofcom said it would return terrestrial capacity to the BBC after failing to reach agreement with the RTL-owned broadcaster.
The new channel, a simulcast of the main network, will take advantage of Five’s US dramas such as CSI, FlashForward and The Mentallist (pictured), Australian soaps Neighbours and Home & Away, international cricket and live Europa League football.
Five’s director of strategy Charles Constable said the channel was delighted to begin its HD journey with Sky. “This is an exciting opportunity for Five. Our programme schedule is more suited to HD than that any other major free-to-air commercial broadcaster given the wide range of high quality series we broadcast, such as our top-rated line-up of US dramas”.
The move is likely to embarrass Ofcom, which on Monday said Five was unable to reach a timescale for the channel’s HD launch. Unless other announcements are forthcoming it means that Sky alone will have access to content from the four so-called UK public broadcasters – dealing a blow to the free-to-air platforms Freeview and Freesat. Unless there is a change of heart Five HD seems unlikely to appear on Freeview until new capacity is released in 2012.
Five HD will be the 42nd HD channel to launch on Sky, following recent announcements covering ITV 1HD, Sky News HD, Sky Sports HD 4 and Hallmark Channel HD. It is aiming for a total of 50 by Christmas.
2.1 million homes currently take the Sky HD service.