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TV to stream 24 channels for digital Olympics

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Roger Mosey | 10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Since the start of our planning for London 2012, we've had two big thoughts about the way most people will enjoy our content.

The first is that these will be the Games where HD (High Definition) is mainstream, and if you're like my family and friends, then for events like the 100m final you'd probably want to be sprawled on the sofa in front of a TV set to watch every detail on your own large screen.

That's what our flagship channels BBC One and BBC Three will deliver across a range of events - taking you to the action when it matters and catching the medal-winning performances.

The second is that these are the first truly digital Olympics where we'll offer more choice than ever before, and the pledge we made is that you'll be able to watch sport from every venue from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.

A family watching television at home during the 50s.

How times have changed: The 24 extra BBC-branded Olympic channels will massively extend choice for viewers

At peak this will mean we bring in 24 HD streams of content - with the result that hockey fans can watch live uninterrupted hockey, and table tennis fans can stick all day with their sport too.

This represents four times more channels than in Beijing, and a total of around 2500 hours of live sport - which is at least double what we've offered in the past.

The main way we planned for you to be able to watch those 24 streams was via our BBC Sport and 2012 websites.

But we were always conscious that in a perfect world we'd try to make the services available on your television, because we recognise that the 40-inch HD experience is one that the hockey and table tennis fans and the rest might want for their dedicated service as well as for BBC One and BBC Three.

So we're pleased to announce today that's precisely what we're offering to a range of television platform operators - that they can use the BBC's 24 streams in standard or high definition to create additional television channels through the BBC red button and their Electronic Programme Guides.

We've had discussions with cable and satellite providers on a non-exclusive basis to see if they'd like to run BBC-branded Olympic channels that will massively extend choice for their viewers in addition to what we can offer ourselves online, via the BBC iPlayer or through connected TV services.

The aim is that you'd be able to pick from watching BBC Olympics 1 right through to BBC Olympics 24 with full programme guides and the ability to record your favourite sports.

Many of those discussions are still continuing, but the BBC, Sky and Freesat have announced today that they've come to an agreement that will deliver the 24 channels to all Sky and Freesat homes. Sky will also pick up the costs of satellite distribution, irrespective of whether other platforms join in - though we hope and believe there'll be more announcements soon.

Just to underline - this is a distribution agreement for the Sky platform and Freesat, and it's not about sharing the broadcast rights which remain with the BBC within the UK.

This is no different from existing BBC channels being on Sky, Virgin, Freesat and BT Vision. But clearly we're delighted by the ability to get BBC channels to as many people as possible on the device of their choosing.

We should be clear that not every platform will be able to accommodate such a huge technical offer, which amounts to 48 channels in total if you count 24 SD (Standard Definition) plus 24 HD.

But for Freeview users at peak there will be two extra channels (Channel 301 and 302) available via the EPG and BBC Red Button, that will double the choice on offer from BBC One and BBC Three - meaning that from 7pm you'll have at least 4 television services plus the full 24-stream service via our website.

As ever, we'll keep you up-to-date here with further developments.

But in the complexity of navigation through all the content of a digital Olympics, which my colleague Phil Fearnley writes more about here, we reckon this is an exciting development that will make BBC content more convenient and simpler to find.


  • Comment number 1.

    Roger, that's great - but for those of us with Freeview alone, in reality the service we are getting is either the same or worse than that received during Beijing.

    Then, we had four channels with coverage (BBC1, BBC Parliament, 301 & 302) throughout the day; come 2012, four years on, we'll get BBC1, BBC3, 301 & 302, but not all four throughout the day.

    I appreciate that what you are doing in having 24 HD / 24 SD channels is very impressive, but it is foolhardy to fail to mention (although understandable PR) that not everyone is getting a service improvement in four years.

  • Comment number 2.

    Should add that I am of course pleased that there is dedicated coverage (even if it is online/on iPlayer) of the 'minor sports', like Shooting which don't get enough air time.

    How long will they remain on iPlayer?

  • Comment number 3.

    I have been wondering how the internet's infrastructure was going to cope with multiple live (or recorded) streams being consumed by many wanting to watch something other than the live coverage on broadcast TV so this is a welcome move. Nice job, guys.
    However, without a corresponding announcement of delivery from "platform providers", this has little impact. As Jordan D wrote: Freeview will only get four channels (part time). Do I need to rush to Sky to get more? (where's the link to the joint announcement, Roger?) and what will Freesat do?
    While there must have been much work behind the scenes to get this far, but this is a bit late and bit thin for our local Olympics.

  • Comment number 4.

    Any chance of more 3d content now?

  • Comment number 5.

    @Bill - the Sky announcement is at and states that "The channels are free-to-air and available to any Sky home, including Freesat from Sky homes. The HD channels are available on any Sky+HD box and do not require a subscription, but do require an HD ready TV. Customers will require a Sky subscription in order to use Sky+."

  • Comment number 6.

    Riger - This is stunning, well done. Please tell the technical guys to make sure the bitrates are decent enough for Sports!

  • Comment number 7.

    Good news. 24 extra HD channels is certainly a massive improvement. I had always felt that the BBC was not well enough equiped to do the Olympics alone. The agreement with Sky is certainly a good thing. Sky viewers will also benifit from Eurosports Olympic coverage as well. Its not clear if freesat will join in.

  • Comment number 8.

    @trevorjharris in #7 - Freesat have just confirmed (1230) they will take the 24 channels too.

    @derek500 in #4 - BBC 3D will be as announced: Opening and Closing ceremonies, 100m Final and nightly highlights all appearing on the BBC HD channel.

    @Jordan D in #1 - as you say, there's what we believe is a strong Freeview channel offer including 4 full choices in peak; and the enhancement over Beijing is what we'll be able to offer through connected TVs (almost all of which have Freeview) and our website with the full 24 streams available there. Everything will go onto iPlayer on the usual terms.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great for some, but at what cost to us licence payers? Personally I'd rather have the Olympics on Sky and F1 on the BBC. After the event, can we have a cost per viewer comparison between Olympics and F1?

  • Comment number 10.

    Will every sport and every stream have BBC commentary on it?

  • Comment number 11.

    Fantastic news. 24 channels is outstanding coverage. It will be incredible to watch dedicated athletes who don't normally get media coverage. Far better than watching multi-millionaires polluting the planet driving round in circles for 2+ hours.

  • Comment number 12.

    Brilliant news all i need now is 23 extra tv sets

    Roger when can we expect the full TV schedule so we can start to plan our Olympic viewing?

  • Comment number 13.

    Following up Derek500's comment, I also hope this means more 3D content could be shown.

    Very disappointing if Roger's response @4 is the final answer....

  • Comment number 14.


    I realise the service hasn't launched yet, but i was planning on being a 'YouView' box for connected tv before the Olympics.

    Will this service have all 24 streams?

  • Comment number 15.

    I do hope there will be some interesting televsion too. I would expect that this set of alternative channels would mean that we do not have to hear about sporting events at all on say, BBC2 and 4. Most of us are not the slightest bit interested in the London Sports Days.

  • Comment number 16.

    AIUI, Sky are picking up the costs for the additional satellite streams, and OBS are producing this output in the first place, so this isn't really costing the BBC much is it?

    So it is a win-win for everyone isn't it? What is there to complain about? (poor freeview only viewers aside that is...)

  • Comment number 17.

    @gspearson in #15: yes, BBC Two in peak (1900-2200) and BBC Four should be Olympic-free.

    @Robinho02 in #14: our hope is that YouView will offer all 24 streams.

    @Marke09 in #12: well, this is the schedule that will form the basis of the channels being announced today -

    @JasonCrawley in #10: there will be a commentator at every event, so for every channel, though the Sport team point out they'll need the odd break during the day!

  • Comment number 18.

    So how much is all this costing?

    Remember you are TV channel that decided you couldn't carry on with F1 because it cost too much and shafted F1 fans instead...

  • Comment number 19.

    Why all the negativity, I think this is a great idea, and a great service.
    Iplayer offers more choice and in HD and what do most people do...moan…
    Role on the Games!!

  • Comment number 20.

    @Roger Mosey (#8): somewhat a tautology - those with Connected TVs have Freeview, but not everyone who has Freeview has a Connected TV. So for those in that situation (which I imagine is a large amount of people), they are getting a worse option than Beijing. I don't doubt that "in the peaks" there will be a four channel option, but the rest of the time, it will be fewer.

    It is disappointing that we end up with so many time shift channels and shopping channels with an inability to show new content during the Games.

    It would also be good for the BBC to admit that closing 302 a few years back has left those of us on Freeview with genuinely less choice of options on our TV (as you'll know from the Social Media Week debate, watching through the internet is not substitute for the main screen experience).

  • Comment number 21.

    Will I be able to get a license refund for this period. Wall to wall coverage of sport is like watching wallpaper except this wallpaper will have the ever irritating Gary Lineker popping up on it all the time. Refunds all round please.

  • Comment number 22.

    Fantastic news. For those complaining:

    1) Freeview doesn't have the capacity for all these extra channels, so I'm guessing the BBC would have had to pay (eg) E4+1 to take over their stream during the olympics.

    2) The olympics are a category A listed event, F1 isnt. Hence the olympics are on free to air TV, F1 isnt. Whining about F1 on every BBC sports blog isnt going to change that. So please, please stop.

  • Comment number 23.

    In wonder why my comment isn't an editors pick.

  • Comment number 24.

    This is great news, this means I can watch us poms beat the Aussie's in the medal table in HD and really wind my Aussie misses, perfect.

  • Comment number 25.

    @sewerside Well aware the the Olympics is a category A listed event and that it will get free to air coverage (and so it should) but that doesn't mean it should have 24 channels at the cost of a (rumoured £350 million pounds)

    We're not going to stop complaining about F1 becuase the BBC shafted F1 fans but continues to claim it acted in our interests. F1 going to C4 or C5 would have been in our interests but the BBC prefered to do a deal with the devil rather than another free-to-air broadcaster getting it.

    One of the reasons F1 was dropped was to meet the Olympic costs so this seems like a perfectly good place to bring it up.

  • Comment number 26.

    wile I am not a fan of F1 I do think more sports should be free to air, I mean sky even want £15 to watch wrestling and that's not even a sport, so yes more sports on free to air please.

  • Comment number 27.

    Mixed feelings about this news. Yes, it's great that the 24 streams will be available to satellite viewers through TV - but with the Sky service being slashed to one stream after the Olympics under the guise of platform neutrality it makes it even more insulting that in two years the BBC has done absolutely nothing to reinstate the two interactive streams axed on Freeview - a period in which ITV, C4 and Five have all added at least one extra channel to their Freeview offerings.

    In addition at the moment in regions where digital switchover has already taken place (which is everywhere by the summer except Tyne Tees and Ulster) there is the capacity for a temporary mux or two (using the discontinued C4 & C5 signals and up to three pre-DSO muxes) offering some of these 24 feeds and giving us Freeview folk some kind of parity.

    However this news just makes the Freeview service even more sparse in comparison - and what frustrates me most is there has been no effort at all from the BBC to cater for us Freeview folk during the Olympics. And with the red button being cut to one stream on Sky/Freesat after the Olympics it just isn't worth even considering Sky just for the Olympics itself.

  • Comment number 28.

    24 channels of live table tennis and hockey but you gave up on live F1?

    2500 hours of sport coverage is impressive. Shame you couldn't spare the 30-40 hours needed to show the twenty F1 races throughout 2012.

    You not only gave up half the live races but you aren't even showing full delayed coverage of the others (as you promised you would when the Sky thing was announced last year...).

    I find it all very perplexing and very disappointing. :(

  • Comment number 29.

    Given that these extra channels will be appearing on sky, is there any chance these will be available on sky go? Would love them to be as the only way for me to recieve sky channels is through my xbox and would love these extra streams to be available on this service. Or will there be a way of streaming these channels through the iplayer app on the xbox?

  • Comment number 30.

    They'll all be streamed through the BBC website so don't know if you can access them through the website.

    Back to Freeview and reading today rumoured that the BBC will take up the 5th HD slot vacated by C5 for the Olympics and are now advertising the 6th slot - either for a HD channel or multiple (probably 3-4) SD channels.

    Now with a bit of lateral thinking the BBC could use Freeview HD to offer around half a dozen of the Olympic channels in SD by using the bandwidth for these 5th and 6th channels - which would go a very long way to reducing the difference between what is on Freeview and what is on Sky/Freesat. Instead of up to 4 of the 24 channels we'd have up to 10.

    At the very least I'd like any extra BBC HD channel to offer a different schedule to 301 rather than a simulcast, giving us one extra choice - or preferbly use the space for 3-4 bonus streams in SD - which would mean 6-8 channels showing the Olympics at any one time.

    The BBC has no defence if they say they won't offer service via FreeviewHD not available on Freeview when they're offering so much more on Sky - and frankly ultimately Freeview folk will be expected to upgrade to HD anyway, so this will be a cheaper option for licence fee payers to get more from the BBC Olympic coverage than subscribing to Sky or switching to Freesat.

  • Comment number 31.

    P.S. What will be the situation with commentary on these channels?

  • Comment number 32.

    Roger ... Fantastic.... the BBC and the other channels are raising the bar to a new standard.

    Advances in Technology, Art and Sport are what underpins the games... well done!

  • Comment number 33.

    I agree with Brekkie that the post Olympic evisceration of the Red Button service is regrettable. The negative influence of the BBC Trust it would seem. I am fortunate to have access to both Sky and Freesat on different sets. I appreciate that Freeview viewers are at a disadvantage, but I'm not sure how that could be resolved. Mind you I think it's excellent news that the feeds are on the Sky EPG, since this makes available the Sky+ functionality. It would be an idea to do this for all red button services in future. I can see the BBC Trust not allowing it for their own bizarre reasons. However overall excellent news.

  • Comment number 34.

    Thanks for the comments - @Brekkie and others: I'll return to the Freeview issues soon.

    @Andy Davies in #25: for the record, there is no link between the cost of the 2012 Olympics and F1. The London Games were budgeted for years ago, whereas it's the current real-terms cut in the licence fee that made some changes unavoidable for the BBC.

  • Comment number 35.

    "The London Games were budgeted for years ago, whereas it's the current real-terms cut in the licence fee that made some changes unavoidable for the BBC."

    Considering the F1 rights deal was signed several years ago (5 year deal starting in 2009...) I think it's a perfectly fair link to make. You (BBC Sport) had the contract for F1 in place so surely it had been budgeted for in just the same way as the Olympics were budgeted for.

  • Comment number 36.

    So the BBC can run 48 channels for the Olympics, but only cover the flagship snooker World Championships for part of each day ( Surely this is a major step backwards in the era of multi-channel coverage, and outside the Olympics suggests that sport on the BBC is in terminal decline...

  • Comment number 37.

    There is one major point that I think a lot of people won't realise.
    And that is that the BBC isn't showing any of the Paralympics. It's going to be on Channel 4.
    Not saying it's anyones fault or anything. I just don't think people realise this. Considering that they are part of the same 'event' I would hope it gets mentioned at some point.

    As for money to all your F1 lovers, even if it was connected, I'd rather have the Olympics than F1. If you want everything then pay for it. Everytime you moan about the BBC it gives ammunition to those that stop the BBC getting proper funding and yes, paying for things like F1!

  • Comment number 38.

    It must be remembered that the distribution costs of the 48 extra channels is being paid for by Sky and that freesat viewers will benifit aswell. The BBC was already carrying these streams on iplayer so the extra cost to the BBC will be minimal. It may be that the Sky streams may be a higher quality than the BBC's as they are likely to transmit 1920x1080 as opposed to the BBC 1440x1080.

    Freesat will get 6 more multiplexes a few years after switchover but even this would not support the 48 channels.

    I have not heared anything about surround sound. I am sure that the Olympic Broadcasting Service will be feeding 5.1 surround so I home the BBC will transmit it. Sky has emphasised that their F1 service has Dolby Surround in thier advertising.

    I see lots of complaints about the lack of sports on BBC. I am not so sure it is a lack it is just it is of such a low quality ie. cross country running from scotland etc. The BBC has waisted billions on building projects. The move to Salford was rediculous. Studios should be located where they are needed not just for political correctness. The refurbishment of Broadcasting House cost over a billion. That is an awful lot of TV programmes.

  • Comment number 39.

    In my previous post I said freesat will get the extra multiplexes it should have been freeview.

  • Comment number 40.

    Four years ago BSkyB closed their platform to new SD Channels claiming that early Early Sky Boxe's did not contain enough memory to handle the EPG data for any more channels. Now suddenly they have enough capacity to launch 24 channels. This can only mean one of two things. People with old Sky box's wont get the additional channels, or Sky were lying when they closed the platform to new Channels, and just wanted to make sure their were no more competitors.

  • Comment number 41.

    Will the HD channels also be accessible through the red button on Sky or will it be SD only with the red button press and you'll have to go the the EPG channel?

  • Comment number 42.

    So, If I understand this correctly......

    SKY - 24 Channels
    Freesat - 24 Channels
    Freeview - 4 Channels

    The 'red button' and BBC website will show every game, race, event live?

    So no matter what TV set-up you have there is a way to watch any event. Even streaming via the website it's better than nothing!

  • Comment number 43.

    This all sounds great for those who enjoy this over-hyped collection of minority-interest sports but what happens next year at the BBC? Back to live coverage of half an F1 Season, half the US Masters, half the World Snooker Championship? I guess you're blowing your own trumpetquite loudly for your Olympic coverage as the BBC slowly but surely loses one major sport after another.

  • Comment number 44.

    So Roger, are you telling us in #34 that BBC Sport signed a five year deal to show F1 without budgeting for it?

    Or are you really saying your over the top Olympics coverage was ring-fenced?

    When the pressure came on the licence fee you could have chosen to show less of the Olympics or stop needing 10s of presenters at every six nations match. (only know about six nations as I watch it, but I guess it's just as bad with every other sporting event you cover)

  • Comment number 45.

    I think many would like to have their cake and eat it too.

    I favour the olympics and would prefer the BBC to cover once in a lifetime events rather than an annual motor racing event.

    Also to no.15 who is 'not interested in the slightest bit' just happened across a BBC sport blog post about the bbc's coverage of the Olympic games. Yeah.

  • Comment number 46.

    I feel complelled to comment here. The BBC is once again screwing over non-Sky customers. I am an avid Olympics fan, and have been watching the Summer and Winter games for as long as I can remember. I also only have freeview. I am appalled to hear that the service offered to Freeview customers will be reduced from the 2008 Bejing games! Only 4 channels offered, and not all full time. Why can't the BBC3 and BBC4 channels be used before 7pm for this purpose aswell? And saying that we will have access to all this content online is not any compensation; watching on a TV screen is a far better experience than watching on a computer screen. Plus, it seems to me that, as online will be the only option for MOST people (who don't have Sky or Freesat) to watch the Games, I doubt the Broadband infrastructure will cope with this level of streaming at peak times.

    I suggest the BBC seriously rethinks it's strategy for the Games. The move of the Sports department to Manchester one year before the Games was a ridiculous waste of money and (though I don't wish to bring it up here) the F1 has been another kick in the teeth. I have always been a champion of the BBC as a Public Service provided, but am finding it increasingly hard to justify this position.

  • Comment number 47.

    @kellis_115 in #46: the main channel proposition will be very strong. BBC One will cover the Olympics from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, except for the news belts when coverage will transfer to BBC Two. BBC Three will run 0900-2300; and Freeview will offer Channel 301 all day with Channel 302 available from 7pm. Plus there will be Freeview BBC HD services that weren't there at the time of Beijing. So while I accept that a computer screen may not be ideal for some people, it's still the case for London 2012 that in the evening peak schedule viewers will have at least 4 different TV choices covering the events most people will want to see - plus everything else online.

    @racket in #41: my understanding is that the red button will take you to SD or HD depending on your set-top box, though all the channels will be navigable via the EPG.

  • Comment number 48.

    Any answer on the commentary situation Roger - will all streams or indeed any streams carry commentary?

    And what is happening with the World Track Cycling tomorrow on Freeview - the EPG is now showing it'll be a collection of archive interviews which is ridiculous. Recorded content should never take priority over live content.

    And I know you're not the man to answer it but the relevent blogs have been closed over the years where we could vent our frustrations about Freeview. Based on what is carried on other muxes and how the BBC carries less channels than those muxes there is no reason at all why in the last three years an extra permanent channel couldn't have been added to Freeview for interactive services, and then using the same system as used in Scotland for BBC Alba by dropping most radio channels for the games one more temporary TV channel could be created, which would give Freeview folk up to six channels for the Olympics, on a par with what Sky/Cable customers had in 2008.

    What really frustrates me though is the lack of development from the BBC in upgrading their own platform. A week ago I'd have thought putting all 24 Olympic streams in SD, never mind HD, on to Sky was pretty much impossible but the BBC have found a way to do it - but they haven't even bothered looking at ways to even add just one channel to Freeview for the games.

  • Comment number 49.

    @Brekkie - sorry, I touched on commentary in #17: yes, the streams should all have commentary most of the time.

    One general point on Freeview: it's a brilliant and highly successful platform. However, nobody's ever hidden that it has some capacity restraints compared with other options - hence YouView and other connected TV offerings being developed.

  • Comment number 50.

    Will the access provided by Sky also be available to Virgin Media customers?

  • Comment number 51.

    @roger Mosey

    "it's a brilliant and highly successful platform"

    Actually Freeview was rather forced on people. At the time there was alternative. The problem now is that by the time switch over is complete it will be obsolete. Mpeg2, DVB T, SD stereo have all been replaced by H264, DVBT2, HD, Surround sound. Generally the picture quality of SD has been dropping as bitrates have been reduced. The big weekness with freeview is HD of course. All the HD channels are only 1440x1080 with very low bitrates.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well well. Sky has just anounced that Eurosport will transmit more than 100 hours of 3D from the Olympics. Quite a feather in Eurosports cap to out maneuver the BBC like that.

  • Comment number 53.

    Roger, when I replaced a perfectly good TV with a digital one with freeview it was because no one from the BBC was telling me that it had capacity restraints in fact you were telling me it was the best thing since sliced bread. So I’m left not able to see much of the Olympics with a very poor four station option which as many have pointed out IS worse than the last Olympics. You have let down the freeview viewers very badly. Sadly like many others, on line viewing is not possible at my location. Also what the hell is SD, HD, EPG any chance you techno boys could use English?

  • Comment number 54.

    "Sky has just anounced that Eurosport will transmit more than 100 hours of 3D from the Olympics"

    The BBC should be ashamed, they are the principal rights holders for the olympics yet a relatively small outfit in Eurosport are going to broadcast more of the olympics in 3D, Roger your thoughts, on the BBC being outwitted by Eurosport, it is going to be intresting to see the Daily Mails take on this.

  • Comment number 55.

    Roger, #49 One general point on Freeview: it's a brilliant and highly successful platform. However, nobody's ever hidden that it has some capacity restraints compared with other options - hence YouView and other connected TV offerings being developed.

    Just how does youview help me see the Olympics? Seems more effort should be going into how to make it a level playing field for freeview, and the millions who would like to watch London 2012 this year rather than teasing us about what's comming in the future.

    Until I read your artical I was under the impression we would all be give the same opportunities to enjoy the 'once in a lifetime' event. Now I'm just cross....

  • Comment number 56.

    @Fedster in #54: Eurosport has had the rights to all recent Olympics, and they provide complementary coverage alongside the European public service broadcasters like ourselves. Our view of 3D hasn't changed since my blog about it and we think it's right (a) to offer the events we're planning in 3D but (b) not to damage the more mainstream BBC HD proposition.

    @Brian_b4: for the key periods our Freeview service will be at least as good as for Beijing; and I'm sorry you can't access broadband video yourself, but for millions of people the BBC 24-stream offering online will provide an enhanced service.

    Misslongstocking in #50: we've offered our 24 channels to Virgin Media, yes, but there isn't yet an agreement on the lines of Freesat and Sky.

  • Comment number 57.

    Roger, the problem with Freeview was wonderfully demonstrated today; there was excellent Track Cycling coverage, with live races from Melbourne. At 1415hrs on the 301 channel on Freeview.

    Half way through the final race of the day (the Eliminator) with some 16 laps to go, a simple short message that "Freeview viwers are leaving us now - you can continue watching on the Red Button". And what appeared - *highlights* of the Masters Golf.

    Can we get a firm commitment that things like this won't happen come the summer, and that live footage will always be carried over repeats/highlights?

  • Comment number 58.

    Actually Roger I see things from a rather different point of view. In recent times the BBC has been very reluctant to adopt new technology. It took years for the BBC to adopt wide screen for the local programs. With the advent of HD the BBC only wanted to have one channel with very few programes using surround sound. We would only have one BBC HD channel now if Five had not refused to take the freeview HD channel. BBC news is not going HD till 2013. To make the situation even worse the BBC is still transmiting 1440x1080 at low bitrates even on satellite. As for 3D the BBC is transmitting a bare minimum.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ Jordan #1 the reason Freeview is getting so few channels isn't the BBC's fault. There's no more terrestrial bandwidth left according to my understanding so the only way new channels can be squeezed onto Freeview is through encoder codec improvements (rarely come along and usually quite small) or by reducing the quality of the picture on Freeview generally to make more space. Either way, 24 channels would not be possible, hence the extra 2.

    Personally I'm pleased that the BBC have decided to allow Freesat to broadcast 24 channels instead of doing the alleged usual of restricting what BBC content Freesat can transmit according to what Freeview can transmit. Its been long overdue for the BBC Trust to allow both platforms to separate out and stand on their own 2 feet and play to their own strengths - Freesat to max content and max quality as a showcase channel for the BBC (the latter yet to be seen as it's allegedly reduced to match Freeview in quality) and Freeview in ease of and cost of reception (ie set up costs).

    I personally just hope that the BBC Trust will realise this is the way forward after the Olympics are finished and draw up rules to allow the 2 platforms to operate as separate entities for quality and content, and let the viewer decide what is important to them max quality and quantity, or ease and cost of reception.

    We already know Freeview which is already allegedly struggling with HD transmission bandwidth transmitting just a few channels is going to struggle going forwards as ever more bandwidth hungry formats become mainstream eg 3D, Super HiVision etc. and ever more mainstream channels switch to HD variants. So the time really has come to make each platform independent.

    As for the Olympic channels we are getting on Freeview, I hope the BBC allow Sky to transmit these at their normal Sky bit rates ie around 14mbs for sport and sizes ie 1920 x 1280.

    Hopefully the BBC will also take note of the resulting picture quality and consider following their lead on bit rates and sizes after the Olympics for all BBC HD channels. Everyone knows the BBC is strapped for cash, however the small increase in bit rate from the current levels for the BBC is unlikely to cost much money and will deliver value for money to the consumer through improved picture quality. The BBC is supposed to be at the forefront of technology and broadcasting standards, lets see it put back there!

  • Comment number 60.

    In defence to Roger, the BBC and to everyone else moaning about Freeview's lack of bandwidth - it's been well known within industry circles that Freeview has never had and never will have the same level of capacity of Freesat, Sky and VM's platforms. I've also got news you you avid Freeview HD lovers, there'll be more FTA services on Freesat in future simply as the bandwidth isn't there on Freeview. Don't blame the BBC for that, blame the government as they are flogging off a fifth of the UHF spectrum with potentially more to come! I chose Freesat over Freeview at DSO as I saw these limitations and FS will be the future platform for those wanting more HD and higher quality and quantity of SD services.

    Roger: Will the BBC promote the Freesat platform as a FTA subscription-free option to watch these streams as it all appears to be Sky, Sky, Sky marketed. Sky will try and manipulate this to their advantage and as we know some of their cunning marketing tricks then as a PSB, it's only fair the BBC should promote the cheapest FTA option for those wanting to view these streams and potentially record them with the right equipment.

    In fairness there's a lot of houses with redundant dishes (from ex-tenants, ex subscribers and also current subscribers) to Sky so for some it might be simple as purchasing a Freesat HD Set Top Box and away you go.

    The BBC should promote Freesat where it can as after all, you've invested a lot in to it and are half part owners so have a vested interest. Yes, the majority still have and watch Freeview as it's the 'de facto' platform (inside all new TV's) but Freesat is still currently the fastest growing platform by individually measured unit sales.

  • Comment number 61.

    @neil201 wrote it's been well known within industry circles that Freeview has never had and never will have the same level of capacity of Freesat, Sky and VM's platforms.
    Neil, I’m not in the industry so was not aware this was the case, so forgive me but I was expecting good things from the BBC for 2012. Seems some people get 24 stations and Freeview customers get 4 and yet as Roger put it ‘it's a brilliant and highly successful platform’.
    I would agree it’s highly successful, but not so sure it’s brilliant. We could have been told ages ago that Freeview is what it is and won’t be bringing many more new stations because of bandwidth limitations and this may have limited my expectations. Instead we got a big fanfare ‘look 24 stations (for those in the know) and a ‘brilliant’ 2 full time and 2 part time stations (for those who didn’t know).
    Title of this blog (Roger) TV to stream 24 channels for digital Olympics
    Title of this blog (me) TV to stream 24 channels for digital Olympics to Freesat, Sky, Virgin, BT Vision but not Freeview

  • Comment number 62.

    Brian, I understand where your coming from but the correlation between 'successful' and 'brilliant' are certainly not always the case. Cheap reality TV shows are, in mine and many opinions, successful but certainly not brilliant!

    I agree the title of the post would be better if, certainly initially, titled "24 Channels for Digital Olympics to be broadcast for Free To Air Satellite TV customers (Sky and Freesat)" - as you don't need to pay Sky to view them on their hardware!

    In relation to Digital Switchover, yes Freeview is being heavily promoted but as we come closer to the end of the programme there's people thinking it will offer more and more. Freeview has the same expansion as analogue TV did! Initially three channels, a fourth joined in '82 and C5 appeared in 1997 so that's not many in it's 40+ yrs of existence as there wasn't the spectrum planned for it. In the digital TV age people will expect more and more, only Satellite is going to offer that option going forward. Back in 2009 it was a difficult decision for me at switchover, do I go Freeview HD (a new and emerging technology) or Freesat which had 18mths under it's belt and offered loads more in terms of expansion and potential. Freesat it was, I missed out on 4HD for 12mths but now I've got all the main PSB HD services at 1920x1080 and a host of SD channels in better quality than corresponding bitrates on Freeview.

    Freeview will have it's place for those who just want 'plug and play' TV without fancy HD or whistles and bells. Once we start to factor all this 4G/LTE spectum that's being sliced off UHF Band V then the situation gets more complex and a minefield! In fairness to Digital UK on this whole issue, they do a very good impartial job in my opinion of conveying all the options without being biased to one or the other.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ Neil # 62 Brilliant reply. Sums up the position nicely.

  • Comment number 64.

    Unfortunately Youview is a non-starter for many folks in rural areas with so called Broadband. Made me laugh a few weeks ago to see reports nobody in the country had speeds slower than 1.3mb - I can tell you for sure that isn't the case.

    Since 2010 the HD mux has found space for two extra HD channels and all the other muxes (except the shared ITV/C4 mux) has found space for at least one further channel - but the BBC haven't done anything with their own.

    They'll argue there isn't space for more channels but they only have 7 on their mux while all others have at least 8. They'll then say it's the radio channels - but one of the Arquiva muxes has all the commercial radio stations plus nine TV channels. They'll then blame the need for regional feeds - but the ITV/C4 mux has four regional channels (ITV1,ITV1+1,C4,C4+1 are all regional at least for ad purposes, while E4 swaps with S4C in Wales - a fifth regional variant) compared to two on the BBC mux (BBC1 regions, BBC2 nations). And not so much Olympic related but if S4C can offer English or Welsh commentary on it's main channel, why does the BBC need to use 301 for any alternative commentary options?

    We all here understand that Freeview can't host the 24 channels, but they could add one or two more. There is the question though of the muxes that have been turned off following DSO but the spectrum has yet to be sold - it would be nice if on a temporary basis one of them could be reinstated to offer 6-8 channels of Olympic coverage, but that might be easier said than done.

    Again Roger it probably isn't your place to answer these questions, but can't really see anywhere else on the BBC now to axe them as the relevent guys seem to have had their blogs closed after a few months of difficult questions following the axing of the two Freeview interactive streams.

    On the plus side excellent coverage of the Boat Race today and it kind of goes back to your last blog about covering news around the Olympics rather than just results. As a sports fan my feeling is if someone disrupts an event in such a manner they shouldn't get the publicity that revealing who they were protesting for would give them - but then again I guess the BBC would feel a duty to report impartially, rather than try to discourage further causes attempting to hijack the event.

  • Comment number 65.

    just a quick note to all of those who seem to have only freeview in their homes and are complaining that the BBC is offering a poorer service compared to beijing; at the end of the day the BBC are providing the extra services for free via Freesat and it's not their fault if you carn't get it together and get access to the free offering, the BBC are doing their bit in providing you with the services and at the end of the day i am, as i am sure you are, a great believer in meeting someone halfway. It's a one of cost with no monthly ongoing service charges so get it together and get it.

  • Comment number 66.

    One of the problems with current red button on freesat has been the lack of EPG. This has made it difficult to set systems to record the sports events in advance. Will there be full EPG on these 24 channels, broadcast in the same way as, say, BBC1? Perhaps, even serieslink data to get all of a certain sport!

    Secondly, will full epg data be published in an open reusable form (e.g. xml file) that covers what events are on which channel / transponder etc... and when?


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