BSkyB has announced full launch plans for its long-awaited high-definition television service, Sky HD. Sky will start taking orders next Wednesday and first installations in the UK and Ireland will take place in May in time for June's football World Cup which the BBC will air in HD.
Customers will pay £299 for a Sky HD box which will incorporate a 160GB hard drive, allowing them to record 30 hours of HD programmes or 80 hours of standard definition content using the full functionality of the Sky+ personal video recorder. The HD service will cost £10 per month in addition to a Sky digital subscription (currently priced between £15 and £42.50 per month).
Sky said that as an introductory offer standard installation of Sky HD would be free for all new or existing Sky digital subscribers until 31 May 2006.
To view Sky HD programmes customers will need a Sky HD box and the relevant subscriptions and a compatible HDTV. To experience Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound available on a selection of Sky HD programming, viewers will also need a compatible home cinema system.
Sky's HD launch line-up includes: Discovery HD; Sky Sports HD, offering live Barclays Premiership football and Guinness Premiership Rugby union matches, plus English Test Cricket and one-day internationals; Sky Movies HD, offering two HD screens plus up to 10 extra movies in HD each week on Sky Box Office; Sky One, simulcast in HD; the Artsworld channel, simulcast in HD; and the National Geographic HD.
Sky began taking pre-orders for the HD service last month.
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