UK: ITV Boots Up HD Soccer on Freesat

Neither England, Scotland nor Wales may have qualified for the Euro 2008 soccer finals, but the new, free digital satellite service from ITV and the BBC are now carrying all the matches in HD. The service, Freesat, is providing the content via ITV HD and BBC HD.

The tourney began last weekend and runs through Sunday, June 29.

According to the BBC, there are at least 10 million HD-Ready televisions throughout the United Kingdom capable of viewing content in HD. Prior to the start-up of Freesat in May a far smaller percentage of homes had any access to HD content.

As an incentive, this month Panasonic has started selling HD sets in the United Kingdom with Freesat middleware integrated into the units.

Later in the summer, ITV HD plans to carry several more sporting events, including the new season of the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup, and the England internationals. BBC HD coverage includes Wimbledon tennis in early July and the summer Olympics in Beijing in late August.