ITV HD is a major selling point of Freesat’s new service, but there appears to be major confusion as to when the service will actually arrive.
Speaking to Freesat’s James Atkins at the launch of the service, TechRadar was told that the hope was it would be a "couple of weeks" before ITV HD content began – sparking questions as to whether the UEFA Champions League final, the jewel in ITV’s sports coverage, would provide the perfect launch event.
However, an ITV spokesman told us that there were no plans to broadcast HD football until next season, when the FA Cup, England matches and the new Champions League campaign kick off.
This would give a start date of August, unless ITV decides to provide non-sporting HD content, potentially a costly operation.
ITV HD is exclusive to Freesat for the time being, with Sky still locked in negotiations over the provision of the channel, which means the window of this exclusivity remains up for debate.
"Freesat has ITV HD exclusively at the moment," was all that ITV would tell us.
Red button service - not a channel
The second surprise over ITV HD is that it will only be available as a red button service – allowing users to access HD pictures only when they are simulcast alongside programmes.
ITV explained this decision was taken because of the price of providing HD programming.
"We decided on a service rather than a channel," confirmed ITV. "To provide an entire channel of HD programming was simply not economically viable."
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