BBC iPlayer comes to Virgin Media in HDHDTV popularity soars as Freeview HD gets closer

05 May 2009


In the wake of Sky TV's announcement that Sky now has more than one million Sky+ HDTV customers, rival digital TV broadcaster Virgin Media has revealed that the BBC iPlayer's HDTV programming is now available on its cable TV network.

High definition television, or HDTV as it's often known, has experienced rapid growth since Sky first launched it in 2006 (see the Which? guide to HDTV for the benefits of HDTV over standard TV) and Sky and Virgin Media's recent announcements suggest that HDTV's high quality digital TV broadcasting is the way of the future. 

What is HDTV?

HDTV is a new standard of TV with better-quality picture and sound than normal TV - more the sort of standard you would see at a cinema.

HD offers more colours and a higher picture resolution. This can make HDTV images clearer, sharper, more detailed and very lifelike.

How can I get HDTV?

To watch HDTV you need two things - an HD-ready TV (such as those featured in the Which? review of LCD and plasma TVs) and some HDTV broadcasts to watch. 

Sky TV and Virgin Media both show HDTV content, but you'll need a Sky+ or V+ digital TV set top box and a monthly subscription to Sky or Virgin Media's digital TV services to view their HDTV shows (see the ). In most cases, you'll have to pay an extra fee on top of your standard TV subscription to get HDTV broadcasts. 

Don't fancy paying a monthly TV subscription? You can get BBC and ITV HDTV programmes from subscription-free satellite TV service Freesat , though you'll need a high definition Freesat box.

Freeview HDTV in time for 2010 world cup?

If you're willing to wait a while for your HDTV viewing, look out for the eagerly anticpated launch of HD on Freeview. The launch date hasn't yet been confirmed, but Freeview says the first HDTV channels will be available as digital switchover takes place in the Granada TV region in the north-west of England and subsequent regions from 2009.

Sports fans will be delighted by recent reports suggesting that high definition television on Freeview could be available to nearly half of British homes by next year's football World Cup. 

Keep an eye out at for the latest news on Freeview HD as it happens.

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