Today is the official marketing launch for Freeview HD, so expect to see a big fanfare. Maybe a parade. There's a £6m marketing budget to spend, so don't count out sky-writing, a zeppelin and Chelsea's Stamford Bridge renamed the Freeview HD Stadium. The service technically launched last year, but so far it's only been available in select regions and to very early adopters. Today sees a wider roll-out, with Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff added.
Channel 4 HD will be available on the service too, it was also announced today. This means that you can finally enjoy Come Dine With Me in HD, something we've all been longing for. Like ITV 1 HD, Channel 4 runs its HD channel as a simulcast, so when there isn't an HD programme showing, you get upscaled SD. We're enormous fans of this method, because the quality of SD channels on Freeview is so thoroughly atrocious.
If you're a resident of Wales -- bore da! -- you'll be getting S4C in HD, which will be simulcast with S4C. The new channel has been christened 'Clirlun', which translated from the Welsh means 'clear picture'. The channel will launch on 30 April and intends to bring exclusive Welsh sport, nature programming and the marvellous Pobol y Cwm to Wales' 600,000 Welsh speakers.
Conspicuous by its absence is Five HD. The broadcaster has expressed an interest in creating an HD channel to show its numerous US imports in high definition, but cost issues prevent it from being able to launch a Freeview service at the moment. Five HD will launch on Sky this summer, however, as part of the satellite broadcaster's plans to have 50 HD channels by Christmas 2010.
Five's decision not to join the Freeview HD platform means the extra multiplex capacity returns to the BBC. It's not clear yet what the corporation will do with this extra slot. With HD broadcasting on the up and up, it might be tempted to create a new pair of channels that simulcast BBC One and BBC Two in hi-def. The other option would be for it to lease it to another broadcaster to recoup some extra money to fund new programmes.
What would you like to see in this new slot? Why not vote in our poll and tell us what you'd most like to see in HD on Freeview?
In the meantime, you can check to see if Freeview HD is available in your area, or when it will be. Fifty per cent of the UK should be covered in time for the World Cup in June. There's more information here and a postcode checker here.