Sky the Limit for Freeview|HD?

DTRs are helping Freeview|HD sales to rival My Sky HDi's

On the eve of Sky TV announcing its interim results, NBR reports Freeview hopes to extend its HD service from 75% to 87% of the country in time to broadcast live 48 Rugby World Cup games, including all of the All Blacks’ matches.

Freeview general manager Sam Irvine told NBR: “The government and broadcasters are continuing to work together with transmission providers [read: Kordia] to extend the Freeview|HD coverage to 87% of the population.

“This would extend coverage of to Whangarei, Rotorua, Taupo, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Masterton, Whanganui, Nelson, Timaru and Invercargill.

“A date for the extension has not been confirmed. However, initial indications were that this would be completed before the Rugby World Cup.”

The extension would encourage more viewers to make the switch from analogue to digital TV at a time when Freeview|HD receivers already are being sold in record numbers.

This week Freeview announced December was its biggest month for sales since the FTA digital platform launched four years ago, with most of the 34,928 receivers sold being TVs and digital television recorders with in-built Freeview|HD tuners.

Because Sky has the lion’s share of satellite capacity, the only way Freeview can expand content is terrestrially, which is how Freeview|HD is distributed.

NBR points out Freeview|HD sales are running neck-and-neck with those of My Sky HDi’s as the 2013 digital switchover date looms closer.

But expect Sky shortly to up the ante by offering My Sky HDi boxes with 1TB of storage, or three times that of the first model.

Having only 320GB of storage has become laughably inadequate, with the FTA networks cranking up their HD content and Sky presumably poised to launch more HD channels of its own now it’s acquired more transponders.

Moreover, with 50% household penetration, it needs to offer attractions other than sport to keep subscriptions growing.

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