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** BSkyB Announces High Definition Channels and Free-To-Air Offering **

Discussion in 'TVs' started by RAMiAM, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. RAMiAM

    RAMiAM
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    British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC : New initiatives

    RNS Number:5601Z
    British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC
    09 June 2004

    BSkyB announces Free-To-Air and High Definition Television initiatives

    British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) today announced plans to drive sustained demand
    for digital satellite television through separate initiatives that will address
    the premium pay-TV and free-to-air (FTA) audiences. Speaking at an investor
    conference in London, James Murdoch, Chief Executive of BSkyB, said that the
    Company would introduce a new FTA satellite proposition later this year and had
    begun developing a premium package of services in the High Definition Television
    (HDTV) format for launch in 2006.

    Free-To-Air Satellite

    Later this year, BSkyB will introduce a FTA satellite proposition offering
    access to almost 200 television and radio channels and interactive services
    which are available without a monthly subscription fee. Consumers will be able
    to purchase a package of reception equipment (including a Sky digibox, minidish
    and initial viewing card) direct from BSkyB for a one-off cost of £150.00
    including standard professional installation.

    There is no obligation to subscribe to a pay-TV service and FTA satellite
    viewers pay no monthly fee. However, the FTA satellite proposition offers an
    easy upgrade path for viewers who choose subsequently to add a pay-TV service to
    their viewing options. There is no requirement for additional equipment and
    viewing cards can be enabled remotely for the reception of pay-TV services.

    It is anticipated that the new FTA satellite proposition will support the
    Governments proposed switchover to digital-only broadcasting by providing an
    additional subscription-free option for viewers not currently attracted to
    pay-TV. In particular, FTA satellite will provide an accessible and attractive
    means of going digital for the 27 per cent(1) of UK households which are
    currently unable to receive the full range of digital terrestrial television
    services and for the additional number of households which require an aerial
    upgrade in order to receive digital terrestrial services.

    The extensive line-up of channels available to FTA digital satellite viewers
    includes the BBCs portfolio of digital television and radio services and
    digital versions of the five analogue terrestrial television channels, including
    all national and regional variants of BBC One and BBC Two. Access to the
    encrypted signals of ITV1, Channel 4 and five will be available as a result of
    the provision of a digital satellite viewing card, which will also enable
    automatic reception of the relevant variant of regionalised FTA channels.

    All FTA satellite viewers enjoy access to Skys comprehensive electronic
    programme guide (EPG) featuring seven-day listings of forthcoming programmes on
    all channels. In addition to a wide choice of FTA television and radio channels,
    interactive services such as Sky Active, BBCi, ITVi and Channel 4s Big Brother
    Interactive are available to digital satellite viewers without any monthly
    subscription fee. All Sky digiboxes contain an integrated modem and therefore
    are capable of accessing online services including e-mail, SMS text messaging
    and public service information from Directgov.

    High Definition Television

    In a separate initiative, BSkyB will again demonstrate its commitment to lead
    innovation in digital television with the development of a premium package of
    channels in the High Definition Television (HDTV) format. Following the
    successful launch by BSkyB of the UKs first digital television service, first
    interactive television service and first integrated Digital Video Recorder Sky+,
    the proposed introduction of HDTV to the digital satellite platform in 2006 will
    ensure that Sky customers continue to benefit from the most advanced television
    services available.

    HDTV, delivering substantially superior picture quality than standard-definition
    television, is the preferred format for a growing number of US television
    productions in genres including sport, drama, entertainment and news. Its
    introduction to the UK is expected to strengthen further the differentiation
    between digital satellite and other television platforms and to appeal to the
    increasing number of consumers who seek to enhance their in-home audiovisual
    experience with equipment such as wide-screen televisions, plasma screens and
    home cinema systems.

    The premium service will launch in 2006 with both a set of dedicated HD channels
    and access to selected events produced in HD format. Further details of BSkyBs
    proposed technology and programming offering in HDTV will be announced in due
    course. In addition to the package of channels to be offered by Sky, other
    broadcasters on the digital satellite platform will also be able to take
    advantage of its HDTV capabilities to provide an enhanced experience to their
    viewers.

    James Murdoch, Chief Executive of BSkyB, commented:

    "These initiatives are another step in giving consumers a choice from Sky that
    suits their needs at the top and lower ends of the scale. They will help drive
    even greater take-up of digital TV services and enable Sky to enjoy a close
    relationship with even more customers."
     
  2. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    Nice work!.......I thought this was an April fool at first until I woke up to the fact it's June....Las Vegas in HD anyone?mmmmmnice.......
     
  3. rogeralpine

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    Just read this over on the dvdforums - excellent news indeed. Bring it on!!
     
  4. StooMonster

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    Cor, you get fresh information when you work in The City and have Reuters news feed!

    This is announcement is interesting because it may result in a fundamental change for BSkyB Group PLC in that they are accepting that they are now a maturing business and not a growth business. This means that their institutional shareholders may change significantly, they may start paying dividends on shares again; but then perhaps they don’t want any more US Hedge funds as backers. :)

    Acceptance that they are a maturing business is the proposition of HD services, which is an up-sale to existing customers like Sky+ and not attracting new customers (“growth” business). But with growth figures down to 1% versus FreeView’s 19% in first quarter 2004 shows that this may be reality they can no longer ignore anyway. ARPU is steadily growing towards their £400pa target, but HD subscriptions will probably be at a premium price to allow them to continue increasing ARPU year on year.

    I suggest that the “Free-To-Air Satellite” is their spin on getting new customer growth; however, I can’t really see this generating much revenue (reselling hardware and installations) versus subscriptions. Furthermore, it sounds like an announcement of what is available already!

    So, 2006 is the target start year of HD television in UK; we can assume that it will be movies and sport that kick off the proceedings.

    Lays your bets
    720p or 1080i? I bet 720p because that’s what Fox use in USA.

    StooMonster
     
  5. fozi999

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    This is indeed great news and unless something changes then a 2006 launch is much earlier than I would have thought for HDTV in the UK.

    I hope they use 720p as at the moment it's my preferred format over 1080i.
     
  6. pdundas

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    So, for the first time, we actually have a (rough) date for HD transmissions in the UK. I must admit 2006 is 2 years earlier than I expected so this is good news. I'd expect a film to channel to kick it off plus possible a HD version of Sky One and then premium sporting events etc.

    The availability of a HD transmission platform will also put pressure on other broadcasters (i.e. BBC) to bring forward their plans.
     
  7. museumsteve

    museumsteve
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    excellent news..thanks :)
     
  8. Agent 86

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    The choice of standard is not that easy. Just because Fox are going 720p has no influence at all on the decision in the UK. There has to be degree of compatibility with the existing production and transmission infrastructure. An interlaced format would suit this best.

    Sky uses almost exclusively, Sony VTR machines and currently, the high-definition version is multistandard although it doesn't appear to support the 720p/50. The Panasonic D5 does.

    Allegedly, the cost of converting to 720p is less than 1080i, in the transmission chain.

    There are many variables to consider within the entire transmission process including the production that precedes it. There are also compatibility issues with other broadcasters on the same platform. There may also be backward compatibility issues for the consumer.

    Just because a sister company in the USA goes one way, doesn't mean a great deal in the decision process over here.

    Regardless of which standard they go with, they are to be applauded for doing it.

    Regards,
    Agent 86
     
  9. dgc

    dgc
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    "premium package of services in the High Definition Television
    (HDTV) format "


    just hope the additional premium payable on top of normal subscription isn't too high
     
  10. pdundas

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    I think it would also be wrong to assume that they will be using MPEG2. They probably will be but there are certainly other options which will be quite viable by 2006.

    As far as "standards" are currently concerned, I think I'm right in saying the only European DVB specified "official" one is 1080i/60.

    I'm sure BSkyB will be / have discussing / discussed this with other broadcasters who use their platform as the format(s) they decide on will pretty much decide the HD standard for the UK for the forseable future.
     
  11. CKNA

    CKNA
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    Trust me you want 1080i. It looks better than 720p on any display be it interlaced or progressive. 720p has less horizontal resolution. 1280 pixels compared to 1920 for interlaced.
     
  12. CKNA

    CKNA
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    DVB standard supports 1080i/60, 1080i/50, 720p/60, 720p/50. They pretty much copied the resolutions from ATSC.


    In UK you will most likely get 50Hz flavor as it is easier to convert old material. Unfortunately that still leaves you with speedup on movies. 60Hz is superior especially when shooting HD video as it captues over 10 million pixels more than 50Hz every second.

    Switch to 60Hz would be ideal as you would not need to convert material from US or Japan and lose quality. Still, as I said earlier I doubt it will happen and you will be stuck with 50Hz.
     
  13. Howard Pitfield

    Howard Pitfield
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    I was on the train home, sweating in 25C (hot for us) when I fell off the seat - the Evening Standard carried the article at the top of the thread. Amazing! I was only watching the 2 x sat HD channels in Europe on Sunday and wondering when it would happen - next year! Cor! Hope Discovery HD is shipped over here....

    H :clap: :clap:
     
  14. pdundas

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    Sorry, I meant 1080i/50. I'm sure well get 50Hz as, in addition to the older material, it is easier if SD & HD TV are being simulcast by the same channel.
     
  15. Starburst

    Starburst
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    It's been a long time since I had such a broad smile on my face after reading a headline on a news website:)
    Two years, I suppose they have some serious work to do with the manufacturers to combine a HD STB alongside the Encryption systems but with various companies having a lot of experience in supplying the US market it should be far cheaper and easier than creating from scratch.
     
  16. Dutch

    Dutch
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    Bye, bye MPEG2 - WM9 or H264 in 1080p please! ;) :smashin:

    Steve
     
  17. CKNA

    CKNA
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    I just want to add that this is great news. The more HD the better especially if it is expanded worldwide.
     
  18. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Yes, but no nasty j-u-d-d-e-r on the eyeballs caused by 3:2 sequencing of displaying film's 24 frames per second in 60Hz. :clown:

    It is highly unlikely that UK would switch to 60Hz from 50Hz, we'll have similar setup to Australian HD I recon.

    StooMonster
     
  19. dvdmike

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    doubt it will be interlaced y are we settling for anything less than 1080p
     
  20. Boris Blank

    Boris Blank
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    Thats Euro 1080 out the window for me for sure now.

    The next year will roll by quick enough with much speculation and rumour, the final 12 months will be filled with waiting for the new hardware to be announced/released and then actually placing an order closely followed by installation and finally, at long last, switching it on for the first time - oh mama :rotfl:

    happy days indeed.
    Paul
    Edit - I'll need to change my sig I suppose! 2nd edit - Done.
     
  21. Rimmer

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    Not necessarily. While it's a safe bet that European TV material will be shot at 25p/50p/50i for easy down conversion to 576i, the 24p format could be used on premium HD channels that don't simulcast. 1080i60 and 720p60 could even be broadcast in their original format. Pretty much every cheap European SDTV supports 60Hz, and so do HD-capable displays, so why not use it?:)
     
  22. StooMonster

    StooMonster
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    Because all the adverts and trails will be at 50Hz and the display would have to change frequency between programme content and adverts.

    StooMonster
     
  23. Xevian

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    Yay for HD! :) Watching Euro1080 atm, Can't wait for a full service in the UK! I'm sure we'll See Discovery HD over here, a movie channel, a sport channel and SKy One HD :)
     
  24. Wayne Moule

    Wayne Moule
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    Firstly, great news!

    But how much is the box/dish/sub going to cost and more importantly, will we see reasonably priced screens (< £1500 for a 32/37in) for it to take off and will they be CRT (which is still the best, yes/no?) or what?

    If they show HD @ < 5 mbps like they do now, HD will be a joke!
     
  25. Goose74

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    Hey Dutch

    "Bye, bye MPEG2 - WM9 or H264 in 1080p please!"

    Have you actually compared wm9 to a transport stream? Why would you prefer wm9? I dont like the way it softens the image and the emount of detail that is lost.

    This is brilliant news though - couldnt believe it when I read it at work yeserday
     
  26. Dutch

    Dutch
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    Hi Ringer,

    We have the chance to make a totally fresh start with HD. Why continue to use old technology which uses 3 times the bandwidth as WM9/H264 and yet results in a worse picture according to experts like Joe Kane? I've not noticed a particularly soft image with WM9 material I've watched at 720p or 1080p, but then again I've not seen a ts to compare it to. To quote another chap, I just want "the best that it can be." Why settle for anything less?

    Steve
     
  27. pdundas

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    The only WM9 encodes you can use as any sort of representative example are those originally produced in WM9 commercially such as Microsoft samples and the few WM9 titles available on DVD-ROM.

    You can't use a "private" WM9 encode which is an encode of an already compressed MPEG2 source at goodness knows what rate, passes or techniques as a representative sample. A professional encoder using a non-compressed source should hopefully look a lot better.
     
  28. CKNA

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    1080p for broadcast is not going to happen anytime soon if ever. There are at least couple big reasons for that.

    First, there is no 1080p equipment or even spec that supports higher frame rate than 30fps. You need 50fps and 60fps for video.

    Second, even if used with new codecs 1080p is such a bandwith hog that it takes more space than MPEG2 1080i.

    Newer codec is certainly possibility but there are no real time wm9 or H264 encoders on the market yet. Judging quality on material that was not encoded in real time is not really that usefull. Sat provider Voom in US announced that they will use Mpeg4 or WM9 soon but it is being pushed back all the time.

    2006 is only 18 months away, so there might not be enough time to go with anything else but Mpeg2.
    BTW, Mpeg4, H.264 or wm9 have not even been adopted by DVB or ATSC so anything using it would be on its own and that may make the hardware very expansive.
     
  29. Starburst

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    I can not see SKY investing heavily in anything but a mpegII system.
    The hardware both for SKY and it's subscribers is very mature and currently being used in the USA, Japan, Australia and Europe so given that SKY are not known for wasting money it would be so much cheaper and quicker for them to adapt an existing system for use in the UK.
     
  30. loadsofleads

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    Ok guys, let's get our feet back on the ground here. Are Sky going to bodge this one up or not :confused:
    I remember dancing in the streets when I heard Sky was going to introduce a 'digital' package of hundreds of channels. Brilliant I thought, pixel perfect pictures with brilliant sound and a unlimited amount of premium channels ......... :rolleyes:
    Didn't quite happened as I imagined, the picture quality is argubaly worse now than it was, I'll admit their introduction of Dolby Digital has been great, but I can't help feeling underwhelmed when I remember my original exitement.
    I just hope I don't look back at my euphoria this week and think the same about Sky HD :(
     

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