HDTV Reception and Broadcasters

The type, quantity and variety of high-definition content you will be able to receive, is for the present at least, mainly dictated by the way the you receive your television signal and what your service provider offers.

United Kingdom


There is currently no (with the exception of tests and trials) broadcasting of high-definition content over the air in the UK, mainly due to the lack of available bandwidth.

The BBC already records a large percentage of its new programming in HD and is currently trailing high-definition broadcasts, available for free via HD satellite or cable services detailed below.

Read more about the future of HD services on Freeview


A limited amount of high-definition content is available from Virgin Media (mainly composed of the BBC HD trial broadcasts). Other content such as the World Cup has also been available previously. The requirements are:

Read more about Virgin Media's HD Service


In the UK the sole satellite broadcaster sky offers around ten high definition channels via their high-definition service, however not all programming on these is always in high-definition. The requirements are:

Read more about Sky's HD Service

United States

Over the Air

Over the air (OTA) reception is free with at least some high-definition content available in most areas and all the major networks recording an increasing percentage of their shows in HD. Specialist channels such as HBO and ESPN are not usually available over the air, and OTA HD transmissions will not always be available in outlying areas. To receive HDTV over the air you will need:


Almost all cable companies offer some of their content in HD, but its often only a limited number of the total channels they offer. Cable offers a wider variety of programming than free OTA, but must be paid for with a subscription which will usually include the cost of the set-top box decoder. If you decide on cable you will need:


Broadcasters such as DirecTV or Dish Network offer a selection of high-definition channels and programming. You will likely need to upgrade your package to HD which will usually cost a little more which will allow you to receive a selection of the standard-definition content you currently receive additionally in high-definition. You will need: