3D TV is now on the horizon, but high definition - the buzz word of yesteryears - today took a major step with confirmation that ITV's first dedicated HD channel - ITV1 HD - will launch on April 2nd.
The launch will see ITV1 HD replace ITV's red-button HD service on Freeview and Freesat, and following years of negotiation, the standalone channel will also be made available via BSkyB and Virgin Media.
Arriving in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the introduction of ITV1 HD will ensure that the vast majority of the 64 World Cup games - taking place between June 11th and July 11th - will be shown in high definition on either BBC HD or ITV1 HD. Due to the condensed schedule earlier in the competition, eight group-stage matches are expected to be shown in standard definition on BBC interactive or ITV2, ITV3 or ITV4.
Acting as a simulcast of ITV1, ITV1 HD will air the "majority of peak time content" - including popular shows such as Law and Order: UK, The Prisoner, Foyles War, Survival with Ray Mears, and Britain’s Got Talent - in native high definition, whilst other ITV1 shows will be upscaled.
Meanwhile, BSkyB has also today announced that in addition to ITV1 HD, it will make available Sky Sports 4 HD and Hallmark HD to subscribers of its premium Sky+HD service. The channels, expected to launch on April 29th and June 28th, respectively, will raise the number of Sky HD channels to over 40, with the broadcaster planning to reach 50 by Christmas 2010.
As of April 2nd, ITV1 HD will be available on Freeview channel 51, Freesat channel 119, Sky channel 178 and Virgin Media channel 113.