It’s been available for a couple of months to some viewers, but Freeview HD was officially launched today, bringing subscription-free high definition broadcast television to millions in the UK, just in time for this year’s World Cup.
BBC, ITV and Channel 4 HD channels will be offered on Freeview HD, as well as up to 50 standard definition channels. Five will initially be absent from the line-up though the company is expected to have a HD service available on Freeview HD by the end of 2012.
To receive the high definition service, viewers will need a new set top box connected to an HD Ready TV, or a TV with built-in Freeview HD. Freeview HD boxes are available to buy from around £140, while TVs with built in Freeview HD will be on sale from this month. Freeview+ HD recorders will also be available later this Spring. For information on models see Freeview’s blog.
The launch comes just before the football World Cup this summer, when both the BBC and ITV will be showing matches in HD on Freeview.
However, the service will not be available to all UK viewers at this stage, with 50% of viewers able to access the service now, 60% by the World Cup in June. Some will have to wait until the end of 2012 before they can watch Freeview HD.