Freesat agrees to take 24 Olympic Channels from the BBC

The BBC's 24 Olympic channels, originally intended to be available online only, are to be available to satellite viewers. Sky, who were first to get on board with the plans, will be picking up the tabs for the satellite distribution.

At lunchtime, Freesat then confirmed that it will also be relaying the 24 channels to its viewers via the same feed that Sky will be using (same satellite). The channels are to be made available by the BBC in standard and high definition formats, so will require large (and costly) amounts of bandwidth. Sky is likely to be offering to cover the costs of the transmission on satellite to improve its recently tarnished public image, which culminated in James Murdoch quitting his BSkyB role.

Freesat has stated that the additional services will be available via the regular EPG/TV Guide as well as via the Red Button. Depending on whether an HD or SD box is used, viewers will either get 24 extra HD Olympic channels or 24 SD Olympic channels.

Freeview viewers will need a connected TV to receive the 24 Olympic channels via web streaming to their TVs. It is still unknown which connected TV platforms will allow access to these channels. Any box with BBC iPlayer will be able to access the additional content on a catch up basis under the usual terms, according to the BBC's head of London 2012, Roger Mosey.

  • Freesat and Sky viewers should contact their platform operator for any queries about the Olympic services. Freeview viewers should contact the BBC direct, who are responsible for their own multiplexes on the platform.
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  1. 48 streams providing 24 streams in HD and SD to other platforms even if temporary could be another nail in the Freeview coffin.

    Freeview SD users would be best to invest in Freesat (HD if they got a HDTV)

    Freeview HD along with SmartTVs, TalkTalk TV, BTVision and Youview may get lucky but as Euronews ( knows the SmartTV/TV Platform is so fragmented just for SmartTV they need 11 versions of WebTV App (and may still not suit).

  2. The latest Freeview HD devices must have an internet connection, therefore the integration of web TV with Freeview has started, which is why Sky's Now TV and a host of other services are poised to launch following the lead of Connect TV in providing additional channels to Freeview households.

    YouView is supposed to become one of the main connected TV platforms to add on to Freeview, and if it hadn't have been delayed for so long, would probably be THE main connected TV platform. As it happens, individual providers have developed their own platforms.

    It has long been recognised that Freeview would have limited capacity for additional services*, with YouView the key to restoring additional BBC streams during sporting events lost in 2009. However, the BBC's Red Button service will be curtailed from the autumn on all platforms, due to cost-cutting and limited to one stream on all plaforms. Therefore, if in the future additional streams are required for a special event, it is likely that web streams to connected TVs will be the quickest and easiest way to deliver that extra content to viewers.

    *Freeview was originally thought of as a way of delivering just around 30 SD channels to viewers.


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