Freeview: Not having Five HD 'won't make a difference'

Freeview discusses Five
Freeview discusses Five

Freeview HD officially launched in the UK today, with the service being available to 4.5 million homes this week.

From launch, however, only three channels will be available in HD – BBC HD, ITV1 HD and Channel 4HD (S4C in Wales) – due to Ofcom's recent decision to take the available HD slot away from Channel Five.

TechRadar spoke to the Managing Director of Freeview, Ilse Howling, about this and she told us that the lack of Channel Five won't affect sales of the platform.

Channel Five, not alive

"We do have to make it clear that Channel Five and the Five portfolio is available on the platform – that is really important to consider," said Howling.

"But if you were to ask me if I thought that people would decide not to buy Freeview HD because Channel Five [in high definition] isn't on board, then I don't think that is going to happen."

When pushed for the reasons that Five's lack of HD presence wouldn't harm sales, Howling explained: "I think the strength of the BBC's HD channel, combined with ITV 1 and Channel 4 puts some tremendously strong programming in there.

"I don't think adding Five's content would have made much of a difference in terms of when it comes to purchasing boxes on content alone."

Howling is certainly impressed with the BBC's HD output, noting: "Essentially the BBC HD channel is the ninth most-watched of any channel, whether standard def or HD and that is a stunning achievement.

"I think the richness of that content, being the very best of the BBC is something quite enchanting."

Just days after Channel Five was discarded for Freeview HD it was announced that the channel would be appearing on Sky – this was something that Howling did tell us, however, that she was "unsure" whether Sky has got the channel off of the back of Ofcom's decision.

Most watched

"What you have to remember is that for the consumer, they want to know if they can watch their favourite programme on the service. This may be broadened out to favourite channels but it is the programmes which have more resonance.

"Clearly Sky and Virgin's business model is based around premium content, not available free-to-air. What is really exciting is that you look at Freeview as a whole it has 14 out of 15 of the most watched channels, and 99 out of 100 of the most watched programmes.

"If you take this stat to HD, then it is probable that your most-watched channel and programme will be free-to-air on Freeview."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.