With 2009 fast approaching, what can we expect from Freesat in the new year? Our poll which continues on the left hand side would suggest that more than 50% of you want C4HD as a priority, but in reality will that happen? We know that C4HD is currently tied into agreement (encrypted) with Sky so unless they can terminate early, or the contract concludes in 2009, can we expect this channel at all in the coming year! We will continue to try and find out the in’s and out’s of the contract, but if anyone knows linked to C4 or Sky, let us know.
So what is more likely to appear in 2009? Well BBC are still promising the on-demand iPlayer, directly linked to your Freesat digital box via the Ethernet port. This seems likely to go ahead around spring time, assuming no further delays. Kangaroo looks dead in the water at this point.
Will we see more manufacturers on board? Possible, talks are on-going with a number of large manufacturers although given the current economic climate, this could be a little longer than expected. It’s certain that Metronic will have their HD digital box out soon, although retailing at £150 wouldn’t result in many sales. Metronic’s PVR receiver is also due within the first quarter of 2009, although again, this could be delayed given that the HD receiver from them already has. Alba Group are said to be developing a PVR too, but no timescale as yet, and rumours of Panasonic working on a combined PVR and Blu-ray player/recorder just won’t go away, although the official PR release at this stage is that nothing is in the pipe-line.
So what about other channels? Well Freesat’s target of 200 channels has not yet been reached, so the remaining FTA channels can certainly be expected in the coming months, although will this include FTA channels such as Sky News, we are still awaiting confirmation (don’t forget Sky News and others can be added in non-freesat mode). Will channel Five manage to find space on 2D to bring us Fiver and Five US, lets hope so. As for other channels, well many still expect that the line-up should/will match Freeview, but that’s highly unlikely, as channels such as Dave, UK Gold etc are tied into subscription contracts on DSAT with Sky, so unless these channels/networks can find ways of raising revenue through advertising rather than subscription, it’s not going to happen unless Freesat’s viewing audience substantially increases.
Most will no doubt agree that ITV HD need to drastically improve the quality and quantity of HD programming, at the very least to match a constantly improving BBC HD. Would ITV HD benefit from having a separate channel than using the existing red button facility? Maybe, but the possible downside of this would be access to the channel via Sky, which in-turn could reduce Freesat’s potential viewing figures.
Rather than expected, we hope that BBC and ITV can improve the quality of sound on Freesat, with many, if not all programmes being broadcast in stereo, rather than Dolby 5.1 allowing us to enjoy films etc in surround sound quality. This must surely be a priority?
The platform thus far has been largely successful, but lets hope for an even better year ahead for Freesat, with increased popularity and exposure.
Happy new year from all involved with joinfreesat.co.uk and thanks to all of you that have contributed over the past year.