Channel 4 to launch ‘Project Shuffle’ channel

Channel 4 to launch 'Project Shuffle' channelChannel 4 have today announced they plan to launch a new television channel around June, allowing viewers the opportunity to catch repeats of its best shows; effectively offering a television version to complement their existing 4OD (on demand) facility.

The new channel, referred to internally as Project Shuffle, will allow viewers who missed the first live broadcast of Channel 4’s most popular shows multiple opportunities to catch up with them over the next seven nights. Continue reading Channel 4 to launch ‘Project Shuffle’ channel

Freesat Offer Movie Streaming Service

BoxOffice365 on FreesatFreesat are to launch a new on demand movie service called BoxOffice365, from Picturebox.

The service allows Freesat customers the opportunity to access movies plus other TV programmes via your Internet connection, for a monthly subscription fee of £4.99 per month, and will be available from around the start of December. Continue reading Freesat Offer Movie Streaming Service

Harvard To Launch New Freesat HD Receivers

View21

News story courtesy of Digitalspy

Harvard International has today announced the launch of a new range of high definition set top boxes, offering web services and integration with mobile devices.

Bearing the branding View21, the Freeview HD and Freesat HD receivers are aimed at customers who want to “future proof their TV experience” without having to switch to pay-TV. Continue reading Harvard To Launch New Freesat HD Receivers

4OD and Demand 5 Expected

One of the most commonly asked questions we get asked (apart from where’s Dave!!!) is whether the on-demand services from Channel 4 (4OD) and Channel 5 (Demand 5) will be coming to Freesat.

We know that discussions have been ongoing between the broadcasters and Freesat to increase the number of interactive services and it appears that Freesat are now finishing their email news announcements with the following tag line: Continue reading 4OD and Demand 5 Expected

Freesat Responses To Recent FAQ

We were recently given the opportunity to present questions to Freesat on those topics we felt were of most interest to you; it was a little bit of rush to send them in so didn’t have the opportunity this time to ask what you wanted to know, but from reading through comments, we came up with the questions below which Freesat have kindly answers. No ground breaking responses unfortunately, especially on those questions related to the broadcasters as we’d need to hear from them directly; but worth a read anyway.

We had requested this FAQ session from noticing the change in viewers perceptive on what they now required from Freesat one year on; more HD content being top of most viewer’s wish lists, as well as increased product lines with new exciting products. We made the point to Freesat that the next year will be even more important than the first, not only in obtaining new customers but retaining existing ones too; we are sure they’ll be doing all they can to make Freesat even better, but don’t forget they are actively visiting this site so by all means leave your comments.

ITV HD had been promoted as “exclusive to Freesat” to help encourage uptake; what are Freesat’s thoughts on Sky now having access to ITV HD via the new EPG software? Have ITV HD decided upon a more open policy or should this not have been made possible? What are the potential impacts on Freesat uptake?

ITV HD remains an exclusive red button service on freesat. It is not listed on any Sky EPG and is only available to a small number of boxes via a complicated manual tune / scan.

HD sales have been a large percentage of all Freesat sales (approx. 80%). Could the reason for this as well as the obvious be that SD boxes have been so hard to obtain from Alba Group? Have Freesat been made aware of such lack of availability and are you doing anything to assist?

HD receivers have made up the majority of freesat sales from day one. We work closely with both manufacturers and retailers to try and ensure sufficient stock of all Freesat approved products is readily available. We are aware that recent demand for SD boxes has been high, particularly in some rural areas and those places to receive Freeview. As mentioned on Join Freesat, we are confident that increased volumes of stock will help meet the demand.

Are any other manufacturers in the frame for developing Freesat products (except Sony)? What restrictions are on current manufacturers?

All freesat products go through a strict product development process that enables freesat and partner manufacturers to maintain the highest quality of freesat approved receivers. We are in regular conversation with manufacturers across the industry and plan to launch new products later this year.

What was the original target figure for sales in the first 12 months? What is the target for the next 12 months?

Our sales targets are not public but we can confirm that we exceeded first year forecasts and are on course for continuing this strong growth through 2009.

Why wasn’t 200 channels reached when originally suggested for the first year?

The economic outlook has changed significantly since the early part of 2008 and it’s a challenging market for channels, retailers and manufacturers. We’ve already grown our line-up from around 80 channels at launch a year ago to over 140 today. We’re continuing to add channels all the time and will be launching IPTV catch-up and on-demand services in the future.

Why content of HD programming remains relatively small, especially from ITV?

HD TV production and distribution still remain expensive for broadcasters. Despite this Freesat shows up to 70 hours of HD programming per week for free. BBC HD has increased its scheduled hours twice since launch and is planning to increase them further in 2009. ITV shows peaktime programming in HD most nights of the week and is increasing the amount of HD programming available this year.

What are Freesat doing to pursue the possibility of additional channels joining, especially those such as C4HD, Fiver and Five US?

Freesat works tirelessly to bring more channels onto the platform. We’re committed to growing the amount of HD programming on Freesat and are in regular contact with broadcasters including Channel 4 and Five.

What Should We Expect From Freesat In 2009?

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.