UK Broadcaster Virgin Media has announced that it will add one HD channels starting from today courtesy of beleaguered terrestrial content provider, Channel Five.
The new channel, Five HD will join Fiver, Fiver +1, Five USA & Five USA +1 with the two time shifted channels joining the fray as well. Five now has five channels on the Virgin media platform and the latter has managed to expand its number of HD channels to 13 in all.
A further 20 will be added later this year including the likes of Sky Sports and Sky Movies. Unlike BSkyB, Virgin Media is giving HD channels for free and these are available to any Virgin TV customer who has access to high definition programming.
However, only VM customers opting for the most expensive TV XL package will have access to all the HD channels, otherwise, they will be restricted to four only; that still accounts for around 3.7 million Cable TV customers.
Five HD will also feature on Sky's HD offering, becoming the 42nd channel in the line up. BSkyB has already committed to increase that number to 50 by Christmas 2010.
Some sources have confirmed to us that Virgin Media is giving out free Virgin V HD boxes to selected customers. Currently, they have to pay a one-off HD activation free of £49 whiel the more expensive V+ HD PVR costs £5 per month (or free on the TV XL package).