Sky’s new streaming service the first to gain fully regionalised BBC One HD as part of a phased roll-out running to the end of next year.
As Sky’s new all-in-one TV service – Sky Glass – reaches its first households this week, subscribers will benefit from having a fully regionalised BBC One HD service in England, plus BBC Two Northern Ireland HD, BBC Alba HD and BBC Parliament HD.
Sky Glass is delivered via broadband internet to viewer’s homes, so is able to offer the new HD versions before its satellite counterpart.
The development follows the addition of HD schedules for each BBC One HD region commencing this week on the BBC schedule database, as we reported last month. Following reports in other media outlets, the BBC tried to claim the appearance of the extra data was an “internal error”.
Today, BBC Distribution and Business Development Director Kieran Clifton, confirmed that iPlayer users will see HD feeds added “in the coming months”. In line with a previous announcement, roll-out on other TV platforms are due to be completed by the end of 2022.
BBC Alba HD and BBC Parliament HD will be added to other platforms at the same time as BBC One English Regions in HD. BBC Two Northern Ireland HD will be added to Sky and Freesat during the same timeframe: it’s currently restricted to certain platforms only. Viewers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can already access their version of BBC One in HD.
Before the changes reach all platforms, BBC One HD viewers in England will continue to see a caption during regional news services – although due to BBC One rebranding this week, the screen (shown above) will look different.
Top of the list
In England, once your local regional service is available on BBC One HD, it will be available on channel 101, whichever your TV platform.
With regards to Sky, the BBC wants to clear channel 115 of its HD simulcast once it is no longer needed, so it can use the slot for BBC Three, at least in England and Northern Ireland.
Why is it taking so long?
The cost of creating additional HD versions was a long-standing sticking point. But in recent months, work to upgrade internal systems for HD in each region have been completed. These HD streams now exist online only, with Sky Glass the first to benefit. This is a result of the recent BBC-Sky deal, which announced a closer, deeper integration between BBC content and Sky platforms. Following a very brief spell of exclusivity, iPlayer users will also be able to access the HD feeds.
For Freeview, Sky and Freesat, major infrastructure changes are needed. On satellite, additional transponder space is required for all the new HD services. For Freeview, the existing HD multiplex requires additional regionalisation to match the current standard definition regions. Freeview HD currently operates on a macro-regional basis, which is also why the current ITV HD regional service on Freeview often provides viewers with the wrong region – for example viewers in Sunderland currently receive ITV HD Granada from Salford.