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back to article Brits not buying into Freeview HD

Freeview today claimed that Brits have bought more that 60 million receivers, DVRs and TVs capable of picking up the free-to-air terrestrially broadcast transmissions it's responsible for marketing. But the news is rather less impressive when it comes to the organisation's HD offering. Freeview was quick to compare the take-up …

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Fool me once..

That's because manufacturers were able to sell TV's called "HD Ready" that were not ready to receive Freeview HD...

Nobody wants settop boxes, nobody wants to replace their £800 2 year old TV...

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What he said..

Although I wouldn't mind adding a sensibly priced STB (already have a HD media streamer so not a big issue having another box), I won't be buying an HD TV in the near future, because, well, my current ones are only a year or two old and my PVR is only a year old.

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@AC

"Nobody wants settop boxes, nobody wants to replace their £800 2 year old TV..."

Er, I don't want a box on top of my tv, but if I had a large flat screen mounted on the wall I wouldn't want it to include the tuner, loudspeakers and controls. I have an adequate audio system so I would just need a tuner. As it is, I don't want to replace my full-height tv with a low-height slittyvision one.

We should stop talking about "set top boxes" - how many of them are actually on top of sets? - and market them as stand-alone tuners that will interface with screens, hi-fi audio systems (or surround sound), digital recorders and computers.

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FAIL

Not only that, but...

There were all these annoying marketing adverts featuring one of those aliens from the old smash adverts telling us that "GET A BOX WITH THE DIGITAL TICK" and it will get all the channels and it will be compatible when we switch off the old ones. So people did.

And now they are told to throw it away, it's not compatible any more and it won't get all the channels, because we changed our mind. Well FK that!

Me, I spend most of my time in Spain now, where a 2 year old run-of-the-mill flatscreen picks up the equivalent of freeview HD with no extra money required, thanks. Freeview FAIL.

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@Richard Porter

You seem to be talking about an older generation of TVs, as all the modern ones have digital audio outputs to plug straight into a surround system. No "set top" box needed.

What is a low-height slittyvision tv? I want to get me one of those if the vision in my head is what I think it is.

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Coat

As an aside...

...we really need a better name than 'Set Top Box', given the unreasonable length of time it took me to balance one on my new (thin) telly. Bastard thing keeps falling off too.

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Anonymous Coward

@Fool me once..

Almost agree ... move from terrestrial to freeview was compelling given the extra channels available (never mind the fact that you needed to do it at some point due to digital switch over) so having a STB was an acceptable annoyance plus they were cheap. For FreeviewHD its not quite so clear - you're basically only adding extra picture quality to a handful of existing channels and as HD STBs are expensive.

I do intend to get FreeviewHD and I vaguely thought about getting an HD STB around the time of the world cup but wasn't going to spend £150-ish on one. So for me, and I'd expect many others, I'm planning to get FreeviewHD via a new TV sometime in the next 6-12 months - however, I'm waiting for the prices to settle down a bit.

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Missing a vital point

People who pay for Sky TV are more likely to have funds available to purchase HD television sets along with any other current innovations.

Freeview viewers though are less likely to be in a position to upgrade their home entertainment equipment.

It's simple demographics and while there are exceptions in both instances the general observations hold true statistically when reviewed with stringent criteria.

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Also

I agree. Also the people who are more interested in telly, those most likely to give a rodent's hindquarters about HD, are also most likely to pay for Sky.

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Not only, but also

Those who have purchased Sky may have the funds for HD but aren't they people who are more interested in TV in general? Those who have "settled" for freeview and aren't bothered about getting Sky probably don't see much point in HD aswell.

I'd probably say this interest factor is more substantial than any financial factor in switch to HD.

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Stop

Simples...

[Citation needed]?

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Megaphone

Disposable income - Sky

I think you'll find that the largest majority of Sky viewers are unemployed. I haven't looked recently, but it used to be something you could claim for as a basic of living (along with a big TV and sofa) from the Employment Office! Plus, they are the people who have the time to watch the cr*p that is being pumped out these days.

[Limit them to £26,000 TAX free? - that's equivalent to a £37,000 wage!]

FreeSatHD built in to my new plasma TV is spectacular - who needs terestial?

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There's more to it than signal

OK if it's not being transmitted in your area you aren't going to buy in.

Far more important is that "how much?" feeling.

You can buy a SD Freeview STB for less than £20. You can buy a SD Freeview PVR for not too much more than that.

To get those extra 3 (soon to be 4) channels, you have to shell out nearly a ton! Even more if you want a HD PVR.

I'd love to watch certain HD content on TV, but am I willing to pay a load more for the sake of a few channels (which logic tells me won't always be transmitting something I want to watch) - HELL NO!!!

Once they sort out their prices I'll buy one, whether that's through price reductions or a shitload of new (quality) HD channels. As it is, there's a lot of stuff they choose to broadcast in HD that leaves me thinking Why? Who needs to watch Hollyoaks in HD?

Who needed to watch Brown, Cameron and Clegg debate in HD?

Natural world stuff, fair enough. Some sports, fair enough. Strictly Come Dancing - F*ck off!

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MJI
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My wife watchs SCD

And it does look a lot better in HD

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Joke

"Who needs to watch Hollyoaks in HD?"

Well given the rotating door of young attractive fillies that make up the cast, who doesn't need to watch in HD?

*need allow for two icons so I can have add in the coat \ dirty old mac as well

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Anonymous Coward

You havenm't watched it in a while have you?

Although it's improving again, the aesthetic value of the cast is not what it was ;-)

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HD in Scotland

It's not true that all of Scotland will have Freeview HD in 2010. The main transmitters already do, but many relays will not until the digital switchover next year.

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Nothing to do with the fact

that with Sky, since your already £500 out of pocket a year just to watch a football game and the box comes free so you can upgrade and watch your favourite players strut their thespian stuff in between the adverts in glorious HD for less than a 5% price hike?

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Anonymous Coward

But it's not available to most people yet is it?

I know at least in my area that there is no Freeview HD service until the middle of next year, yet the supermarkets have started stocking cheap (ish) HD STBs. They're down to £79 now and by the time it's being broadcast I'd expect them to be cheaper still.

Lots of the current stock of tellies doesn't have HD tuners, and it definitely sucks that people don't know they need a new tuner to get it, but at least there are TVs and STBs out there right now - it's not like you can't buy a TV with a (for a couple of years) future-proof tuner in it.

Although, I do think that they (whoever that is) should be HEAVILY promoting the fact that you need a different tuner to get it. It's not fair for people buying what looks like a bargain to find out in a few months that they need another STB. I expected the retailers to be pushing the new stuff harder, the margins should be higher on DVB-T2 capable equipment, but I guess they have old stock to shift.

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Anonymous Coward

Many other reasons

As you say, it only broadcasts to a few regions.

DVB-T2 capable devices are like rocking horse shit.

Retailers lie or mislead to sell old stock.

Awareness of Freeview HD is virtually none existant.

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FAIL

Awareness

I couldn't agree more on all 4 points.

As for awareness of Freeview HD - would anyone like to compare the Freeview HD advertising campaign with Sky's? I know Sky has a load more money, but that's no excuse for making your adverts a complete pile of obscure shit. Anyone remember them? No, thought not.

As a brand, Freeview is a joke.

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Unhappy

Completely agree

Went into a variety of Dixons/Currys Digital, about 3 months ago. First sales person stated that any TV that said "HD" on it could receive HD Freeview, second one was adament that you could only get HD via Sky.

If they'd stuck with DVB-T like they did in the trial from Crystal Palace, you can almost guarantee that PC based tuners would be working already, either officially or through the modding community. I remember capturing the original trial BBC HD feed (around 2006 I think?) and managing to decode it offline. Couldn't quite decode it in real-time, but you know that codecs and CPUs have gotten better since then and it would be a doddle today.

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MJI
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Megaphone

And the Freesat HD angle

A lot of us bought Freesat HD when it came out in 2008, after spending £300 on a box and £50 or so on a dish and quad LNB, why will we want to buy Freeview HD?

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DVB-T HD - three channels at best

If they'd stuck with DVB-T like they did in the trial, they'd be able to get *maybe* three channels of 720p or 1080i. As it is, they can get five channels on DVB-T2, and the platform is capable of 1080p, which you can't say for Freesat HD or the first gen of Sky HD products, and there's enough residual bandwidth for one channel to be upgraded to 3D using a service compatible system.

Sticking with DVB-T for an HD service would have been like using DAB for digital radio.

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One of the one-in-seven

Mine is one of the 15% with an HD tuner. In a year's time it will become the norm once the cost difference between standard Freeview & HD Freeview tuners disappears as it surely will.

However, one thing worth noting is the broadcast quality. Freeview HD is not broadcast at a high enough bit rate to get the full benefit in my experience. Maybe once the new bands are worked out, transmission power is upped (limited at the moment in many cases to avoid inter-regional interference) they will be able to up the bit rate as SNR improves, but I rather suspect not. More likely they'll cram more sub-channels into the same space.

High def Freeview recorders are still rather too expensive with limited model choice and there, costs are likely to remain higher as you need bigger disks and more processing capacity.

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me too!

I've got a Humax HD box and the picture is stunning. The signal is sometimes shite though. The strength seems to go to zero when its raining. I can see the TV mast from my house and the regular TV/radio chanels which come through the same co-ax and roof aerial are fine. So it's probably not a reception or cable problem at my end. Perhaps the signal will improve after the digital switchover and the power gets turned up.

Most of the HD content is crap. Holby City and Coronation St are still shit even if they are in HD. The World Cup coverage was amazing though.

I hope that they improve the bit rate for HD and stop all this annoying drivel with sub-channels and "press the red button" irritatants.

BTW, the price of HD recorders will surely fall. Regular PVRs were about 300 quid when they first came out. Today they're around 100. HD versions are around 300 quid too and these will fall as hardware costs drop and production increases. The only real difference between the HD and non HD versions is the tuner chip. Which will eventually be the same in new models.

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Recorders

Well, I imagine a lot of people want a Freeview HD PVR, rather than just a decoder, and those have only just become available in the last month or so, and are still fairly buggy by many accounts. hardly surprisingly that the numbers are a bit low. I'm looking around at the current range of HD PVR's now with an eye to a potential purchase to replace my humax 9200t which is acting a bit flakey.

The new humax HDR looks good. I kinda liked the 3view box but it seems pretty buggy atm. we'll see.

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Freeview PVR

Last week I bought a Humax HDR-Fox T2 box and I'm very pleased with it, great interface, responds quickly to commands etc. There's an update out in two weeks which should give it access to the iPlayer and other online video, so that should be good.

Luckily I didn't really buy it for HD, though, as it turns out my area (Hemel Hempstead) isn't due to get Freeview HD until 2012.

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Built in?

You talk of 85% of TVs not having a built in Freeview HD decoder. What percentage of TVs have a built in satellite HD decoder?

The usual model in both cases is still a TV with a separate decoder.

Clocking up the same number of user in the first 5 months sounds pretty good when you can only reach 55% of the population at the end of that period.

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FAIL

Freeview HD?

If its as bad as Sky's 'HD' then its not worth it anyway. I was recently nabbed by a Sky HD sales weasel pointing out how I could see the hairs on some random footballers head, I pointed out how the pitch and background were still made of Lego. Until they quit multiplexing the bandwidth to death and put something worth watching on its not worth the money, whether Sky, Freesat HD or Freeview HD.

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MJI
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WTF?

Not just Sky

I caught a Freesat demo and told them their demo was rubbish - what did they have on?

Football on BBC1.

What should they have had on?

BBC HD of course.

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Why Freeview HD has been unsuccessful

"Nowadays, then, HD ought to be an easier sell - so why has Freeview HD been relatively unsuccessful?"

Because a lot of those who really wanted HD have already gone to Sky.

Freeview is a misnomer. It's not free (you have to buy a licence) and half the channels you can't view (because they're radio).

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MJI
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WTF?

Umm Freesat HD here

Via a Humax HDR

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Boffin

"It's not free (you have to buy a licence)"

You need that licence for Sky as well you know... It's not "freeview" you're paying for with it.

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WTF?

Have you tried to buy a Freeview HD telly recently?

I did. There's a lot of weasling about being 'HD Ready' but models with DVB-T2 HD built-in are pretty thin on the ground, and as near as non-existant as makes no difference at the cheaper end if you're looking in the bricks and mortar world(*).

I'd have bought a Freeview HD ready TV if I could, but it wasn't an option.

(*) I was unloading DSG vouchers so was restricted to their stores.

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Pint

DVRs

As someone thinking of finally upgrading an old CRT, I will be buying a non Freeview HD TV, as I watch all my telly through my trusty old DVR, allowing me to pause, rewind and record. I can save hundreds by purchasing a Freeview telly rather than a Freeview HD one.

When my DVR dies, I will probably get an HD one, but until then I can live with regular old Freeview

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Ah: Digital TV. Such a choice of channels

We were promised - and got - endless choice with the advent of digital TV.

Unfortuantely, the reality was: Huge choice, but nothing to choose.

Once burned..........

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Blame the World Cup...

Something I notice prior to the World Cup was that a lot of the box shifters (Currys, Comet and their brethren) were not *selling* the Freeview HD sets, instead opting to clear out their old stock of Freeview SD with attractive sale prices.

It's not surprising sales have been slow.

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FAIL

Well why would we?

When some of us (East Midlands - Waltham Tx) aren't being switched over until August 2011. We don't all live in London you know?

The reception around Leicester is appalling really - its a tossup which Tx (Waltham or Sutton Coldfield) is better for which mux. Even with the huge aerials installers have been flogging there's little to no chance of getting HD Freeview - hell SD Freeview on the ITV mux's is dodgy enough.

Once analogue gets turned off we'll get an ERP increase of 400% from the Tx. Then it might be worthwhile.

Oh and the UK has made an almighty fuckup of digital TV switchover. Nearly a decade and a half to switchover? Fail. Total unmitigated fail. Lets not even mention the "unique" nature of the UK's HD Freeview system mmmm? DVB-T2 which is ubiquitous isn't it. Ermmm no, fail again.

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FAIL

"The reception around [fill in blank] is appalling really"

Which is why I wound up sucking Murdoch's cock after years of holding out and went HD via Sky with a very heavy heart indeed. I couldn't get a sustainable SD FreeView signal from the Lichfield transmitter group so I despaired of what they would do to the HD signal.

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MJI
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Should have researched Freesat

Pity you had to go to Sky, I wanted HD so ended up with Freesat HD

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Badgers

I got thirteen channels of shit on the TV to choose from, choose from, choose from.

I got wild staring eyes...

Did Roger Waters know more than he was letting on?

My Freeview box never outputs to TV, only my Amp, for Radio 4, 6 Music, or TMS when the cricket is on.

Owzat?

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Price and coverage is more likely to be the reason

Freeview HD boxes command a premium and therefore take up is going to be fairly slow. Just compare a bog standard Freeview receiver to a Freeview HD receiver on Argos. The cheapest HD box is £99 compared which is 5x the cheapest SD box. TVs with integrated HD receivers are also taking the piss with prices at the moment.

This happens with any new tech and usually takeup increases as the price comes down and more models appear.

I expect by next christmas the receivers will be down to £50 and there will be a lot more models to choose from, including PVRs.

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That would be....

....because it's not available in my area so why would I buy into Freeview HD yet?

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FreeSat HD is fine

I've already got a quad-LNB satellite dish from Sky for HD, so hooking up a couple of FreeSat HD boxes was easy.

Got no need for pointy bird perch antenna on the roof, not had terrestrial of any sort for years; Freeview reception was always bad where I live, I don't think we ever got Channel Five over analogue even.

One of my friends bought a new TV with a FreeSat HD decoder in it recently, and he's chuffed to bits with it -- he lives in really rural area and wouldn't get a good enough Freeview signal anyway, and you can pick up dishes for FreeSat for less than 30-quid.

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Show me the content...

I bought into freesat a good while ago. 1 HD Channel at the time. Very good quality.

Now we have 2 channels! Well one really as the other is ITV which doesn't really count as its all ant and dec and the like.

Also the quality just isn't as good as it was - that could be my perception, or it could be the fact that the beeb changed their encoding a while back. It just doesn't have the wow factor any more.

I'm left wondering a) Why isn't everything broadcast in HD or at least up-scaled and b) Why is it taking so long?

I will buy a freeview HD box when they cost £40 or less or if every single TV channel it can receive is HD.

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Not that impressed with HD

I was in a store recently with my boys and we watched a sky sports HD / SD demo. The improvement was marginal at best. Certainly not enough to warrant spending money on getting HD content.

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits

The setup must have been terrible then as the difference is huge.

I can put up with films and regular programmes in SD if I have to but I hate watching MOTD with it's blurry players and pixel-patch pitches.

Football in HD gets you much more involved in the game; more like the feeling of watching a game at the ground, whereas SD seems far more detached now.

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BBC HD

I get all my content (HD or otherwise) through the iPlayer (or similar services) on my PC which is HDMI'd to the AV receiver attached to my Full HD (1080p) TV. No aerial plugged into TV, no TV license. No worries

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WTF?

You still need a license.

That is all.

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