Freeview, the subscription-free digital TV service today announced that sales of Freeview HD TVs and boxes has reached 1.2 million.*
In the nine month period after launch, Freeview estimates that 642,000 homes are now watching Freeview HD.**
The figure also reflects the success of HDTV sales over the Christmas period. Freeview HD Televisions, which accounted for nearly a quarter (22%) of the iDTV market in December, received a festive sales boost during the week after Christmas with week-on-week sales up by 378%.
Sales of Freeview+HD recorders were boosted in the week after Christmas (+118%) and during December were outselling Freeview HD boxes by two to one.
A further two million homes will be able to enjoy the first Royal Wedding in high definition as the Central and Anglia regions begin digital switchover before Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot on 29th April 2011. By the end of next year, virtually the whole country (98.5%) will be able to receive Freeview HD.
Today, there are more than 150 models of Freeview HD boxes and TVs available to buy starting from £55*** for a Freeview HD box, £200 for a Freeview+HD box and £300 for a Freeview HDTV. Freeview HD offers viewers access to BBC One HD, the BBC HD Channel, ITV1 HD and C4 HD in addition to the most watched channels in standard definition.
Ilse Howling, Freeview’s Managing Director says: “Reaching this milestone within the first year of launching Freeview HD is a great achievement. We know from talking to Freeview viewers that having high definition is becoming the standard when considering what type of equipment to buy. As Freeview HD continues to roll out to new areas of the UK this year, it’s exciting that Freeview can meet this need by offering quality HD channels without a subscription.”
*GfK to end Dec 2010: 1.19m sales
**GfK. 50% of homes assumed to be active Freeview HD homes
***Subject to change. Prices correct as at 2nd February 2011Marketing Communications Director Guy North said: “Associating the brand with great programmes and giving viewers the opportunity to get closer to the content will help to build the relationship between viewer and Freeview.
“We know that people are using tablets, smartphones and laptops at the same time as watching TV and we’re looking to activate this audience by using social networking channels as the call to action.”
Currently around 18 million homes in the UK use Freeview on either their main or second sets. When digital switchover is completed next October, the whole country will have access to Freeview channels.
From tomorrow, around 4.5 million new homes will come into Freeview HD coverage for the first time, including the cities of Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff which puts Freeview HD coverage on track to reach up to 50% of the UK by the World Cup.
The UK’s most watched channels are all represented on Freeview’s new HD service. From today, Channel 4 HD is available alongside the BBC HD channel and ITV1 HD. S4C will launch its HD channel Clirlun in Wales on 30 April. Re-affirming their commitment to HD programming and its contribution to the continuing success of Freeview, there will be more HD content than ever before on the BBC HD channel, ITV1 HD channel and Channel 4 HD this year.
The Freeview HD channel line up from launch:
BBC HD: The best of BBC programming is brought together on the BBC HD channel, including for the first time the new series of Doctor Who and Ashes to Ashes which launch in April. In a summer of sporting events, BBC HD will be broadcasting more sport than ever before, with Wimbledon, Queen’s, the World Cup, and for the first time in HD, The Open and the Grand National. The BBC also announces that The Apprentice and Masterchef will launch in HD. Other highlights include Something Special and ZingZillas for children; Over the Rainbow, Top Gear, Antiques Roadshow, as well as almost every music programme from Glastonbury to the Electric Proms.
ITV1 HD: Simulcast of the ITV1 schedule. Upcoming highlights include; the final stages of the UEFA Champions League and The FA Cup as well as England internationals and the FIFA World Cup 2010. For HD Entertainment, there’s the UK’s top rating TV show, Britain’s Got Talent as well as The Whole 19 Yards, 71 Degrees North, and Soccer Aid. HD dramas include Father & Son, Law and Order: UK, Identity, The Prisoner, Foyles War and Lewis. HD documentaries including Joanna Lumley’s Nile, Greatest Cities of the World with Griff Rhys Jones, and the brand new Survival with Ray Mears all in pure HD. ITV1’s Prime Ministerial debate will also be shown in HD.
Channel 4 HD: Simulcast of the Channel 4 schedule. Upcoming highlights include Glee, Jamie Does and Location, Location, Location as well as the best documentaries, current affairs and music. Other popular shows available in HD include The Restoration Man, Desperate Housewives, Hollyoaks and Shameless.
S4C Clirlun: Simulcast of the S4C schedule. Programme highlights will include major Welsh cultural events, drama, exclusive sport, nature and children.
A range of Freeview HD boxes and Freeview HD TVs are available to buy from leading manufacturers including; Sony, Panasonic, Humax and Bush with more to follow from Philips, LG and Samsung in the coming weeks. Freeview+ HD boxes will arrive in shops before the World Cup. Prices of Freeview HD boxes start from £99, Freeview HD TVs from £480 and Freeview+ HD boxes are expected to cost from £250.
Later this week, Freeview will launch its largest marketing campaign to date with a series of TV ads carrying the slogan ‘It feels good to Freeview’. The £6m campaign called ‘Great Combinations’ gives viewers a unique take on HD as scenes from everyday TV programmes are combined with backdrops of established, epic visuals viewers have come to expect from HD. The first of a series of eight ads will break on Saturday, 3rd April and the campaign will run until the end of the World Cup, returning again at Christmas.
Commenting on today’s launch announcement, Ilse Howling, Managing Director of Freeview, said: “Freeview is taking the experience of stunning HD to a new level of access and availability. Our high definition service offers many of the UK’s favourite shows in glorious high definition and as always with Freeview, you just need to buy the equipment and there’s no contract or monthly bills. And with the World Cup just around the corner, there is no better time for viewers to embrace High Definition TV.”
Danielle Nagler, Controller of BBC HD at the BBC said: “It’s important to us that everyone in the UK who wants to, can enjoy the best of the BBC’s programmes in HD. The arrival of HD on Freeview is a big step forward for HD and for UK audiences.”
Peter Fincham, ITV Director of Television, Channels and Online said: ““We have a fantastic range of upcoming programming in HD, in drama, factual and entertainment and live sport – culminating in this summer’s World Cup. The launch of Freeview HD will be a great step in enabling our viewers to enjoy the fantastic picture quality offered by high definition television.”
David Dorans, Head of Distribution & Broadcast Technology at Channel 4 said: “The growing appetite for HD across the UK is clear to see. I am delighted that Channel 4 HD will be available on Freeview and we look forward to delivering to millions more viewers even more of the shows they love in stunning high definition.”
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