The Sky HD Upgrade: The Latest Changes |
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The Sky HD Upgrade: Everything You Need To Know About the Latest Changes

TV Aerials
May-2023 / 3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In recent years, 4K (Ultra HD) and HDR have been on everyone’s lips. 

There’s just one small problem. Some Sky customers have not been able to watch content in High Definition (HD) without paying for an upgrade, or the HD pack add-on. Until now. Here’s everything you need to know about the Sky HD upgrade happening in the UK.

The Free Upgrade to Sky Q and BBC’s SD Shutdown

Sky customers with SD-only TV boxes can now upgrade to Sky Q free of charge, or they risk losing access to all of the BBC’s channels. Sky has stated that there will be no changes to customers’ Sky TV packages or pricing when they upgrade to Sky Q. 

This led to some confusion among customers who wondered whether some would get HD channels for free while others wouldn’t.

Why Is the BBC Shutting Down SD Channels?

In January 2023, the BBC started rolling out local programming on BBC One and BBC Two in HD. During the first phase, which was completed in March 2023, SD-only satellite viewers lost local programming on BBC One and BBC Two on a region-by-region basis. 

Affected users were switched to a single pan-UK version of each of these channels, featuring special versions of BBC One and BBC Two that won’t include local or Nations programmes.

From March 2023 to April 2024, the BBC will remind remaining SD satellite viewers of the forthcoming closure of their SD channels. By the end of March 2024, the BBC will close all SD channel feeds on satellite, causing viewers who haven’t upgraded to satellite HD to lose access to all BBC TV channels and radio channels on Sky and Freesat.

Sky customers with older boxes, such as certain Digibox and Sky+ devices, will be unable to watch any of the BBC’s channels by then as SD versions will no longer exist, and the older boxes aren’t technically capable of showing HD channels. To resolve this issue, Sky is offering affected customers free upgrades to Sky Q without changes to their Sky packages or pricing.

Some customers might be considering making the switch to Sky Q. The main difference between Sky Q and Sky HD box is that Sky Q is the newer, more advanced system with additional features such as voice control, multi-room streaming, and Ultra HD support. Sky HD boxes are older and do not have these features, but they can still receive HD channels.

Sky HD Channels: Free vs. Premium

Although Sky’s new devices, like Sky Glass and Sky Stream, display content in HD by default (and 4K/UHD for an extra fee), Sky Q and older Sky+HD devices are different. 

Some channels on Sky Q are available in HD at no extra cost, such as BBC One/Two/Three HD, ITV 1,2,3,4 HD, STV HD, Channel 4 HD, Channel 5 HD, and BBC News HD. 

Customers who upgrade from an old box to Sky Q will be able to access Sky’s free HD channels at no extra cost, just like existing Sky Q customers.

Customers who want to watch 40 other premium Sky HD channels will have to continue paying for the Sky HD add-on, which typically costs £8/month. These premium channels include:

  • Sky Atlantic HD 
  • Sky Max HD
  • Sky Witness HD
  • Gold HD
  • Comedy Central HD
  • Sky Nature HD 
  • Sky History HD 
  • National Geographic HD
  • Sky News HD

This add-on does not include free a Netflix subscription. However, you can add a subscription to your Sky account for an additional monthly fee or access Netflix through the Sky Q box if you already have a separate Netflix subscription.

Upgrading to Sky Q and the Cost of Accessing Full Sky HD Channels

Even customers who upgrade to Sky Q for free from an old SD-only Sky box will have to pay extra if they want to access the full roster of Sky HD channels

The choice to upgrade and access these channels remains optional, but it’s essential to be aware of the changes and make an informed decision about your viewing experience.

If you’re considering a Sky Satellite TV installation, reach out to our team for a free quote and expert advice.

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