|Launched||15 May 2006|
|Closed||26 March 2013|
|Picture format||1080i (Satellite and Cable)
|Audience share||0.3% (November 2012, BARB)|
|Replaced by||BBC Two HD|
|Sister channel(s)||BBC One
|Availability at time of closure|
|Sky (UK)||Channel 169|
|Sky (Ireland)||Channel 143|
|Astra 1N||10847 V 23000 2/3|
|Virgin Media||Channel 187|
|Smallworld Cable||Channel 120|
|UPC Ireland||Channel 139|
BBC HD was a high-definition television channel provided by the BBC. The service was initially run as a trial from 15 May 2006 until becoming a full service on 1 December 2007 before closing on 26 March 2013. The first HD originated programme to be shown on the channel was Planet Earth, shown on 27 May 2006.
The broadcasts were generally six to nine hours per day, and included simulcasts with other BBC channels, such as Top Gear, Doctor Who, Michael Palin's New Europe and Hustle, and replays of HD programmes such as Planet Earth, Bleak House, Torchwood, and Hotel Babylon. Live coverage of events such as The Proms, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the Eurovision Song Contest, the FIFA World Cup, and the Concert for Diana had already been shown, with the first live event to be broadcast being the opening World Cup game between Germany and Costa Rica on 9 June 2006.
When high-definition programmes were not being shown, the channel broadcast a looped preview containing clips from BBC HD programmes.
Initially the trial lasted 12 months, after which the BBC Trust agreed to a Public Value Test (PVT) which began on 21 May 2007 and the BBC extended its own HD trial, which was to end in June, until the end of the PVT process. It was announced on 19 November 2007 by the BBC Trust that following the PVT they had approved the BBC Executive's high definition television proposals to allow the launch of UK's first free-to-air, mixed-genre public service HD channel.
On 13 July 2011, it was announced that head of HD and 3D; Danielle Nagler would leave the BBC in September. BBC HD continued, although Broadcast claimed that it would provide a service which would be closer (but not entirely) a simulcast of BBC Two. It was later revealed, however, that reports of BBC Two HD were incorrect. On 6 October 2011 following the BBC's Delivering Quality First review, it was proposed that BBC HD will be closed and replaced with a single high definition version of BBC Two, as part of cost-cutting plans. The proposal was approved in May 2012, with BBC Two HD launching on 26 March 2013, and BBC HD thus ceasing to exist.
Technical details and availability 
BBC HD was available to viewers of the Astra 1N satellite with suitable reception equipment. The channel was also broadcast as a digital terrestrial (DVB-T) service from London's Crystal Palace Transmitter until May 2007, enabling the channel to be viewed by a selected trial group of 450 companies and homes.
Both the satellite and terrestrial broadcasts were free to air, which meant that anybody with the necessary equipment was able to view the channel. The cable broadcast is available through Virgin Media's basic television package.
Until 2 April 2010, when ITV1 HD was made available to all platforms, the BBC was the only terrestrial broadcaster to offer a "platform neutral" HD offering. Channel 4 HD is currently available through Freesat, Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media. ITV, Channel 4 and Five also took part in the terrestrial HD trials from London's Crystal Palace Transmitter, ITV also made their trial available through the Telewest cable service.
The BBC HD channel launched on digital terrestrial television on a region-by-region basis, starting on 2 December 2009 and ending in 2012.
The UK broadcasts were typically at a resolution of 1440x1080i and encoded in MPEG-4 H.264/AVC on satellite and terrestrial television and in MPEG-2 on cable. Although it was not 1920x1080, the resolution is within European Broadcasting Union specifications for HD.
On 27 April 2010, BBC HD launched on the Sky Ireland platform in Ireland. Before this date, BBC HD was only available in the UK on Sky. BBC HD had also been available on UPC Ireland since the launch of their Digital+ HD service on 5 August 2009.
Between 22 and 23 March 2011 changes were made to the Freeview HD encoder to enable automatic switching between 1080i/50 and 1080p/25 according to the material being broadcast. This selection is made automatically by assessing each GOP. Unfortunately some manufactures of receiver do not handle the transitions between the modes well, resulting in sound and picture disruption. This was extended to all of the other Freeview HD channels in October 2011.
BBC HD broadcast the men's and women's finals of the 2011 Wimbledon Championships live in 3D on 2 and 3 July 2011. To facilitate this, the horizontal resolution increased from 1440 pixels to 1920 between 13 June and 6 July. BBC HD also aired the final of Strictly Come Dancing series nine in 3D on 17 December 2011. For this the horizontal resolution was again increased between 8 December 2011 and 5 January 2012. An increase to 1920 horizontal resolution was again observed on 30 May 2012. BBC HD also broadcast the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics as well as the Men’s 100m final and a daily highlights package in 3D. The men's and women's finals of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships were also shown in 3D again on 7 and 8 July 2012. Planet Dinosaur Ultimate Killers was broadcast in 3D on 19 August, which was followed by the second-half of the Last Night of the Proms on 8 September 2012. On 23 December 2012, BBC HD broadcast the television adaptation of Mr Stink in 3D, followed by 3D versions of Killer Dinosaurs and the Royal Christmas Message on 25 December.
2009 bitrate drop 
On 5 August 2009, BBC HD switched to new transmission encoders, and satellite bitrates on Astra 2D dropped by nearly 40% (from 16Mbs to 9.7Mbs), leading to a large number of complaints of poor picture quality. The cable version has remained at 17Mbs and is encoded by Virgin Media themselves, while the later launched terrestrial version is statistically multiplexed between 3Mbs and 17Mbs.
European Broadcasting Union (of which the BBC is a member) documents (EBU Tech 3328 and 3334) recommend that the 1080i HD TV format should run at a minimum bitrate of 12Mbit/s to 14Mbit/s. Andy Quested, BBC principal technologist, said that the documents were issued in May 2008, which was "long before" the BBC started testing on the new encoders. "Tests have demonstrated that at transmission bitrates, H264 encoders should deliver approximately a 2:1 efficiency over MPEG-2 encoders. Depending on the manufacturer and their current stage of development good HD at 8-10Mbps is achievable now." Quested also pointed out that EBU Tech 3334 says, "With the expected future developments in video coding, it is assumed that HD fixed bitrate requirements will be reduced to 8Mbps to 10Mbps per programme. There will also be advances in the transmission system such as DVB-T2."
By mid-December 2009 the BBC had received around 130 complaints on the issue, one of which was sent to the BBC Trust. Tests run by consumer publication Which?, published in December 2009, found no significant decline in picture quality on the BBC HD channel, labelling the difference in picture quality between the new and old BBC HD broadcasts as "insignificant". A petition was added to the official Number10 website in December 2009, petitioning Prime Minister Gordon Brown to bring the BBC in line with current European Broadcasting Union standards by restoring the higher transmission bandwidth on the channel, after the BBC remained steadfast in its belief that there is not actually a problem on the channel.
BBC HD continued to be broadcast to the rest of Europe at around 16Mbit/s with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.
On 30 April 2010, a delegation of viewers unhappy about the picture and sound quality on BBC HD met Quested and BBC HD controller Danielle Nagler at BBC Television Centre to discuss the "current poor picture quality level of the corporation's flagship high definition television service". They argued that BBC HD is failing in its obligation to "deliver a very high quality technical service to viewers, by adhering to, or seeking to exceed, industry standards for picture resolution".
Paul Eaton, who has also appealed to the BBC Trust about the channel's technical quality, said: "The BBC should increase the bitrate for its HD channel on satellite to 14-16Mbps, and increase picture resolution from 1440x1080 to 1920x1080 to be in-line with the majority of other HD broadcasters." Following the meeting the BBC Trust provided him with a detailed response to his complaint and the full results of the ITU test that had been undertaken.
From 3 June 2010, the BBC launched a number of picture quality improvements for BBC HD; the changes included variable bitrate encoding, a fix for mix/fade problems and a new approach to noise in pictures. Variable bitrate encoding allows the broadcaster to maintain the same average bandwidth, while increasing the bitrate for more demanding scenes such as fast movement. The ‘mix/fade’ fix treats a specific problem in changing scenes, while a configuration change for ‘noisy’ video means the BBC no longer needs to use noise reduction, which often reduced the overall picture quality. John Temperley, of the BBC HD Campaign, said: "We are pleased to see that after nearly a year of campaigning, BBC HD has taken these measures and, as we expected all along, the results have been a significant improvement in picture quality."
BBC HD service 
The BBC was approved to provide a service of about eleven hours per day, from around 14:00 to the early hours, with some flexibility to extend beyond this to allow for the coverage of significant live sport or other events. The BBC Trust stated that the service should be available on cable and satellite as soon as the service licence was effective, and the channel had its official launch on 1 December 2007. The decision to provide an early Freeview four-hour overnight schedule was put on hold with the preferred option being to provide the full nine-hour service as soon as possible; this would be reviewed in spring 2008 when there would be greater clarity over spectrum bandwidth and broadcast standards for digital television.[dated info]
The BBC HD channel was a mixed-genre service. Its aim, as far as possible, was to showcase programmes produced in HD from the schedules of other BBC channels. These were broadcast in HD end-to-end, not converted from standard definition (SD). Any individual programme may have contained up to 25 per cent of non-HD material converted from SD—for example, archive shots in a documentary. Some high definition recording formats like HDV as well as some film formats like 16 mm are considered by BBC to be "non-HD".
The content came from across the BBC's portfolio of television channels. It was found by the BBC Trust from the PVT that there was considerable support for BBC HD to show programmes in prime time that would most benefit from the uplift to HD, and not to be just a channel that would simulcast BBC One programmes at this time.
On 28 May 2010, it was announced that BBC HD Channel would extend its regular broadcast hours from around nine hours a day to twelve. The announcement coincided with that of BBC One HD, a high definition simulcast of BBC One, which began transmitting on 3 November 2010. This leaves the separate BBC HD channel to showcase the rest of the BBC.
When the channel was off-air, the BBC broadcast the BBC HD Preview, which showed clips of programmes featured on the channel as a means of self-promotion for the service. These clips were interspersed with BBC HD idents and the tuning signal Test Card X and BLITS, which tested the picture quality and position and the quality of surround sound respectively.
With the announcement and subsequent action, BBC HD was replaced by BBC Two HD on all platforms, at 06:00 on 26 March 2013. The previous day had seen the channel being removed from the BBC iPlayer accordingly.
Worldwide events 
BBC HD had broadcast the 2006 World Cup, Wimbledon, Open Golf, England football internationals, action from the FA Cup and Six Nations rugby in high-definition. The US Masters golf from Augusta National was screened in HD for the first time in 2007. The Eurovision Song Contest was also broadcast live in high-definition on BBC HD; these included 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.
The Euro 2008 Championships were broadcast during June and from 8 August, BBC HD showed coverage of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, considerably extending the channel's operating hours to do so. Coverage of the Australian Open and French Open tennis tournaments in HD, which the BBC hold the rights to along with Eurosport started in 2009. BBC Sport officials have indicated that they hope to offer all of their output in HD by 2012, based on the availabilities of global feeds and planned new studios or HD-friendly renovations in London and Manchester.
See also 
- BBC Trust HDTV public value test final conclusions
- "Danielle Nagler to leave BBC". Ariel. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Laughlin, Andrew (14 July 2011). "BBC HD boss Danielle Nagler quits". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- "BBC HD is NOT ...". What Satellite and Digital TV. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
- "BBC cuts: nearly 2,000 jobs to go". Guardian.co.uk. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
- "Delivering Quality First: Public Consultation - Section 2: Television". BBC Trust. 6 October 2011.
- "Delivering Quality First Final Conclusions". BBC Trust. 15 May 2012.
- "BBC - Media Centre - BBC Two HD Channel to launch 26 March". BBC Online. 19 February 2013.
- "BBC announces timetable for Freeview HD signal availability". BBC. 16 November 2009.
- "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: So Many Tests, and Thanks for All the Recommendations (Or the BBC and the EBU)". BBC. 8 December 2009.
- "BBC HD added to Sky ROI EPG". The Airwaves. 27 April 2010. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
- "UPC Ireland introduces HD". Broadband TV News. 5 August 2010.
- "BBC One is going High Definition". BBC. 28 May 2010.
- "Software upgrade for BBC HD on Freeview". BBC R&D Website. 5 April 2011.
- "BBC experiments with 1080p broadcasts on Freeview HD - but viewers complain of audio dropouts". What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision. 20 May 2011.
- "Changes to BBC HD channels on satellite on 6th June". BBC. 2 June 2011.
- "Wimbledon finals to be first 3D broadcasts on BBC". BBC Sport. 7 June 2011.
- "Gearing up to deliver Wimbledon 3D". BBC Internet Blog. 7 June 2011.
- "Strictly final to screen in 3D". Broadband TV News. 2 August 2011.
- "Different ways to listen and watch the BBC's Olympics 2012 coverage". BBC. 24 July 2012.
- "BBC confirms 3D coverage plans for London 2012 Olympic Games". BBC. 15 February 2012.
- "Wimbledon goes multi-platform with the BBC". Digital Spy. 19 June 2012.
- "Planet Dinosaurs Ultimate Killers in 3D". BBC. 14 August 2012.
- "A ‘Summer of 3D’ on the BBC". BBC - Media Centre. 4 July 2012.
- "BBC HD Channel To Simulcast Queen’s Christmas Speech & New Drama Mr Stink In 3D". HDTVTest. 21 December 2012.
- "Picture Quality on BBC HD: a response". BBC. 17 September 2009.
- "A day in the life of the Head of BBC HD". BBC. 30 October 2009.
- "Points of View and HD Picture Quality: a response". BBC. 13 November 2009.
- "BBC's Keating speaks on BBC HD bitrates". Digital Spy. 26 November 2009.
- "Freesat 'backs BBC HD picture quality'". Digital Spy. 1 December 2009.
- "BBC HD Picture Quality: some myths laid to rest". BBC. 12 December 2009.
- "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Encoding: And Another Test...(Or PSNR and all that...) Post 86". BBC. 11 December 2009.
- "Freeview HD goes live". Register Hardware. 3 December 2009.
- "BBC's Quested talks EBU recommendations". Digital Spy. 8 December 2009.
- "BBC High Definition service draws complaints". BBC News. 16 December 2009.
- "Which? backs BBC HD's picture quality". Digital Spy. 29 December 2009.
- "BBC HD picture quality petition launches". Digital Spy. 30 December 2009.
- "BBC HD quality definition draws criticism from viewers". informitv. 11 December 2009.
- "BBC HD quality campaign to meet BBC". Digital Spy. 30 April 2010.
- "Picture Quality on BBC HD: a Viewers' Group Visit (part 1)". BBC. 4 June 2010.
- "BBC boosts HD bandwidth and quality". What Satellite & Digital TV. 18 June 2010.[dead link]
- "TV Delivery for BBC Worldwide". BBC Worldwide.[dead link] section 1.3.3
- "BBC One HD to launch Autumn 2010". BBC. 28 May 2010.
- "BBC One HD Channel to launch 3 November and EastEnders to go HD on Christmas Day". BBC. 21 October 2010.
- BBC - Sport Editors: Plenty to look forward to in 2009