HD D-Day for Duke


TVNZ’s Duke channel will broadcast in HD from 11am today — but only on Freeview | HD.

The male-skewing entertainment channel will continue to be SD-only on Sky’s satellite platform.

TVNZ hasn’t officially publicised the changeover, other than via promos on Duke and updating progress with ScreenScribe, and the programme billings it provides media don’t cite which series will be in HD.

This isn’t surprising, as TVNZ’s listings tend to highlight only local shows as being in HD, even though most of its content is now 1080i (Maori TV doesn’t reference any of its HD shows).

Three has always led the way in this respect, providing a far more comprehensive overview of its HD programming — which is reflected in most of its Freeview EPG listings being tagged as such whereas TVNZ’s aren’t.

But it’s safe to say sports, most movies and new series like The Mick, which will have its second season premiere tonight on Duke instead of TVNZ 2 (where the first season aired), will be in HD.

As for Sky’s reluctance or inability to add HD feeds of free-to-air channels like Duke and Maori TV, this will do nothing to arrest its subscriber decline and should help to bolster sales of the next-generation Freeview recorders.

The first of these, from Dish TV, is due to go on sale within the next couple of months and will be the first device to combine Freeview Live TV, Freeview On Demand and Freeview Record capabilities.

As well as on-demand content from Māori TV, TVNZ and Three’s apps, it will enable access to local and international third-party video on demand apps.

Other features will include:

  • a 1TB hard drive for live pause and record
  • dual DTT and DTH tuners  for recording up to three channels while watching one
  • a USB input for loading personal content

Freeview chief executive Jason Foden says the 1TB drive should be ample given the device’s on-demand capability.

“It’s also 4K capable. I expect OTT services on the box will be 4K first. The broadcasters aren’t there yet but they are increasingly adopting simulcast and see a future in IP transmission.”

The Dish recorder is part of Freeview’s strategy to offer a truly viewer-centric approach, with a single application combining all broadcaster content in one simple-to-use interface for both content discovery and streaming.

“We will work with anyone to produce an integrated Freeview experience,” Foden says. “Dish have been fantastic in terms of their willingness to produce a quality recorder specific for this market.”

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