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FreesatWelcome to joinfreesat.co.uk, the unofficial Freesat news site. Find out the very latest information on the Freesat satellite television service, available throughout the UK. This site includes all the latest news, reviews and product details, plus where to buy online at the best price...

Freesat is a UK digital satellite TV service from the BBC/ITV which launched in May 2008. Freesat has no monthly subscription, just a one-off payment for the digital box, satellite dish and installation. It even comes with subscription-free, high-definition TV programmes. As Freesat is broadcast via satellite, it’s available to almost every household in the UK.
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Mar 07 2013

Poll: What would you like freesat to focus on?Freesat has made some radical moves forward in recent months to keep pace with the industries need to offer ‘interactive’ this and ‘on-demand’ that, but is that what the consumers want?

In our latest poll, we ask this very question. As freesat fans/consumers, what would …read more »


Nov 26 2010

Manhattan Plaza DS-100 Freesat Digital Box

Updated 26-Nov-10

Manhattan, a leading manufacturer of UK terrestrial and satellite receivers are due to launch a new Freesat SD box to rival the existing Harvard Group units, branded as Bush, Goodmans and Grundig.

The Manhattan Plaza DS-100 is believed to be launching to offer an alternative choice to consumers looking for a standard-definition receiver, rather than the more commonly purchased high-definition units available on the Freesat platform.

We suspect that the idea behind the launch is to take advantage of failings in the existing Harvard boxes which suffer from lack of connections on the back, as well as reliability and availability issues. Manhattan may have missed the opportunity to capitalise in the early days of Freesat, but should still see a good potential market from those not wishing to follow the HD craze.

This unit is due for launch mid-December through exclusive retailers initially, at a recommended retail price of £50; so on a par with the alternatives, but with the advantage of two scart connections so you can connect both to your television and a DVD/HDD/VIDEO recorder if you wish (something Harvard removed from their range some time ago to save costs!).


Jan 10 2010

Courtesy once again of AndrewM (the first!), updated sales figures/ratio’s for Quarter 3 – 2009.

Ofcom recently released their Digital Progress Report for Q3 2009 (http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtv_2009_q3/).

Including the information you previously published (http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-sales-sdhd-ratio, http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-sales-sdhd-ratio-update and http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-sales-figures-q2-2009), here are the updated Freesat sales figures as they stood at 30 September 2009:

Freesat unit sales – 2008

Q2 2008: 39,000 units (15,000 SD and 24,000 HD) (61% HD) [1]
Q3 2008: 69,000 units (20,000 SD and 49,000 HD) (71% HD) [2]
Q4 2008: 125,000 units (26,000 SD and 99,000 HD) (79% HD) [3]

Total sales for 2008: 233,000 units (61,000 SD and 172,000 HD) (74% HD) [3]

Freesat unit sales – 2009

Q1 2009: 117,000 units (26,000 SD and 91,000 HD) (78% HD) [4]
Q2 2009: 98,000 units (79% HD) [5]*
Q3 2009: 193,000 units (79% HD) [6]*

Total sales since launch:

643,000

As expected, Freesat sales figures showed a big increase in this quarter, with total unit sales by the end of the quarter standing at 643,000 and setting a new quarterly sales record of 193,000 units, nearly double the previous quarterly sales figure. Ofcom reports that the proportion of HD receivers is still constant at 79% (see note below). And as you reported in late November (http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-sales-pass-750000), Freesat said that sales had by that point surpassed 750,000. Given these figures, I definitely think that Freesat is on track to pass the million mark sometime this current quarter.

[1] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_q2/q2_2008
[2] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_03/q3_2008.pdf
[3] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_04/q42008.pdf
[4] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2009_01/q12009.pdf
[5] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2009_02/q22009.pdf
[6] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtv_2009_q3/dtv_2009_q3.pdf

*Note that starting in Q2 2009, Ofcom only reports the percentage of HD receivers sold, rather than giving a number of units, so it isn’t possible to give the units breakdown of SD and HD receivers. Also, it’s not completely clear if the percentage they give is for total sales or quarterly sales; I have assumed the latter.


Sep 29 2009

Courtesy once again of AndrewM (the first!), updated sales figures/ratio’s for Quarter 2 – 2009.

Ofcom today published their Digital Television Update for Q2 of 2009 (news release: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/news/2009/9/nr_20090929). Including the information you previously published (http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-sales-sdhd-ratio and http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-sales-sdhd-ratio-update), here are the updated sales figures:

Freesat unit sales – 2008

Q2 2008: 39,000 units (15,000 SD and 24,000 HD) (61% HD) [1]
Q3 2008: 69,000 units (20,000 SD and 49,000 HD) (71% HD) [2]
Q4 2008: 125,000 units (26,000 SD and 99,000 HD) (79% HD) [3]

Total sales for 2008: 233,000 units (61,000 SD and 172,000 HD) (74% HD) [3]

Freesat unit sales – 2009

Q1 2009: 117,000 units (26,000 SD and 91,000 HD) (78% HD) [4]
Q2 2009: 98,000 units (79% HD) [5]*

Total sales since launch

448,000

So a drop in sales from Q1 to Q2 (the impact of the recession and poor availability of boxes?), however given the recent announcement of 600,000 units sold (http://www.joinfreesat.co.uk/index.php/freesat-achieves-600000-sales-since-launch), it looks like Q3 sales are on track to set a new quarterly record of more than 150,000 units (even higher than the quarter which included last Christmas!). As for the percentage of HD receivers sold, it looks like it has reached a plateau for the moment at almost 80%.

[1] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_q2/q2_2008
[2] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_03/q3_2008.pdf
[3] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_04/q42008.pdf
[4] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2009_01/q12009.pdf
[5] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2009_02/q22009.pdf

*Note that for this quarter Ofcom reports the percentage of HD receivers sold, rather than giving a number of units, so it isn’t possible to give the units breakdown of SD and HD receivers.


Jun 30 2009

Following on from our previous guest post on sales figure ratio’s, AndrewM has once again done some digging to bring us to latest figures from Q1 of 2009.

Figures for Q1 of 2009 look good compared with the expected busy period of Q4 2008, with only a small drop HD sales and no change in SD sales. Freesat have already announced sales have reached 400,000 by the anniversary in May so at this rate, 500,000 within the month of July is more than achievable and a great milestone to reach.

Here’s more detail on the sales figures:

Freesat unit sales – 2008

Q2 2008: 39,000 units (15,000 SD and 24,000 HD) (61% HD) [1]
Q3 2008: 69,000 units (20,000 SD and 49,000 HD) (71% HD) [2]
Q4 2008: 125,000 units (26,000 SD and 99,000 HD) (79% HD) [3]

Total sales for 2008: 233,000 units (61,000 SD and 172,000 HD) (74% HD) [3]

Freesat unit sales – 2009

Q1 2009: 117,000 units (26,000 SD and 91,000 HD) (78% HD) [4]

Total sales since launch

350,000 (87,000 SD and 263,000 HD) (75% HD) [4]

[1] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_q2/q2_2008
[2] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_03/q3_2008.pdf
[3] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_04/q42008.pdf
[4] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2009_01/q12009.pdf


Jun 02 2009

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.


Apr 11 2009

This is a guest post by AndrewM following his enlightening email.

I was looking at Ofcom’s recently published Digital Television Update/Progress Report for Q4 2008 (press release: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/media/news/2009/04/nr_20090406a – overview with link to full PDF: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_04/ and I noticed that in these reports they not only give the cumulative number
of Freesat unit sales figure for each quarter, they also say how many of the Freesat products sold are HD-capable. Looking at reports for Q2 and Q3 as well, I realised that from this information I was able to piece
together the complete picture of how many SD and HD units were sold in each quarter.

Note that Q2 figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand, and the percentages of HD equipment have been rounded to the nearest whole number. The original Freesat sales figures that I used to do the sums (Ofcom don’t lay it all out in a nice easy-to-read table, some math was required ;)) are found on page 15 of each of the reports.

Freesat unit sales – 2008

Q2 2008: 39,000 units (15,000 SD and 24,000 HD) (61% HD) [1]
Q3 2008: 69,000 units (20,000 SD and 49,000 HD) (71% HD) [2]
Q4 2008: 125,000 units (26,000 SD and 99,000 HD) (79% HD) [3]

Total sales for 2008: 233,000 units (61,000 SD and 172,000 HD) (74% HD) [3]

[1] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_q2/q2_2008 [sic] (for some reason, they didn’t add .pdf to the end of the file name)
[2] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_03/q3_2008.pdf
[3] http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/tv/reports/dtv/dtu_2008_04/q42008.pdf

It’s interesting to see that the number (and proportion) of HD boxes sold has increased so much, just about doubling every quarter (although I don’t expect that to continue into Q1 2009 of course given the distorting effect of Christmas on Q4 sales).


Apr 06 2009

Once again there appears to be a shortage in supply of Freesat SD Digital Boxes. At present all Freesat SD receivers are manufactured by Alba Group, in the brand names of Grundig, Goodmans and Bush.

It would seem that Alba Group have taken the decision to build to order only, rather than producing large volumes to meet future demand.

Whilst this can be understood from a financial perspective, especially in today’s market, it doesn’t exactly promote Freesat in a good light when the low cost option is not available in-store or online.

There is certainly a good opportunity for further manufacturers to come on board and build low cost options to compete with Alba Group’s lack of supply, but it seems those already in agreement with Freesat (Humax, Metronic and TechniSat) don’t see standard-definition only boxes as a priority.

We can’t seem to get a response from Alba Group on why they have taken this approach, but will pursue Freesat for their opinion on the current shortage/situation.


Feb 24 2009

Little has been known of the reason why Alba Group have not been distributing Freesat SD Digital Boxes to retailers for some time. Most retailers ran out of stock a couple of months ago when availability dried out.

It seems now that Grundig, Goodmans and Bush branded receivers are due a come back within days, with one big difference…price! It appears that due to the weak pound, plus possible increases in manufacturing costs, that the trade price has increased by approx. £15 per unit, so expect the new retail price to hover around £65, not leaving much of a margin between the SD and HD variants.

The rumours of a 2nd generation box are true, which should launch around April/May, but are not the reason for the lack of supply over the past few months, this is believed, although not confirmed to be down to lack of component availability, i.e. Alba Group had not anticipated the high uptake of their Freesat receivers and didn’t have enough parts ready!

With availability again of SD boxes, plus the announcement of new products from Panasonic and TechniSat, sale volumes of Freesat, which are currently at 250,000 should rocket…no wonder Freesat are considering a large advertising campaign this Spring.