Digital Television as We Know It

Digital TV in the UK is nothing new. Satellite television has been around for ages, and almost everyone and their neighbour has a satellite dish installed at their home. Sky revolutionized television with their digital pay service, and offers many hours of quality programming every day to their subscribers, including Premiership Football.

Sky’s dominance has long been undisputed, but Virgin has been challenging the position at the top for the last decade or so with their cable television service. Virgin led the way with HDTV, broadcasting in high definition long before Sky got around to it.

Meanwhile, the humble terrestrial broadcast signal lagged behind all these advancements, not just in terms of programming, but also in terms of quality of signal. Digital broadcasting allows for sharp, crystal clear images and sound, but analogue broadcasts depended on the strength of the signal, and whether your antenna is tilted in the right direction. Bad weather and misalignment meant snowy images and unclear audio.

The digital switch over in the UK allowed high definition broadcasts to finally be available to people without subscriptions to Sky and Virgin. The downside was that many households had to upgrade their older TV sets.

Across satellite, cable, and DTT, hundreds of channels are now available to viewers. Subscription services include Sky, and their Sky HD add-on, BT Sport; as well as Virgin TV. The biggest variety is available on Sky and Virgin, and full packages can cost quite a packet. You can save money by carefully looking at what’s included, and asking yourself whether you are really going to watch it. You can make use of Freeview to access basic channels for free if you can’t justify the expense of Sky or Virgin. This includes all of the BBC channels. Freeview+ adds DVR capability, and Freeview HD allows you to receive free high definition broadcasts.