BBC adds 5 extra HD TV channels

It’s still a couple of weeks ‘til Christmas, but your true love - telly - has already sent to you five extra channels, all in glorious high-definition. And the best part is they’re free, however you watch TV...

Christmas has come early - and all the other festive clichés we could possibly drag up - as the BBC's made a load more of its channels available to watch in high-definition (HD).

From today, you can enjoy BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, CBeebies and CBBC in HD, either live as they're broadcast on telly or streamed on-demand using BBC iPlayer.

Anyone with Sky or Virgin Media TV, Freeview HD, Freesat HD or YouView will get all five of the channels at no extra cost. You'll just need an HD television to watch them on.

According to the Beeb, around 50% of homes are already decked out in HD.

Tony Hall, BBC director general, said: "I'm delighted we're able to launch our new HD channels in time for Christmas, when families gather together to enjoy some of the best TV from the BBC. This year people will be able to watch even more of our programmes in brilliant quality."

Just a few festive highlights include A Christmas Carol on CBeebies HD, Jack Whitehall's Bad Education on BBC Three HD and the New Year's Day concert from Vienna on BBC Four HD. Clearly, there's something for everyone.

Here's where you'll find the new HD channels in your TV guide:

BBC Three HD BBC Four HD BBC News HD CBBC HD CBeebies HD
Freeview HD 105 106 107 73 74
Freesat HD 147 148 212 607 608
YouView 105 106 107 73 74
Sky HD 115 or 210 116 or 211 570 613 or 633 614 or 624
Virgin Media 163 164 604 710 711

If you're not HD-ready, and you don't want to invest in the necessary equipment, that's fine - the BBC's standard-definition channels won't be going anywhere.

However, if you're tempted to invest in a telly with all the trimmings, you'll find the best range of HD channels on Sky, which currently boasts 72 in total. That's roughly twice as many as any other UK TV provider - but remember there's other stuff to think about, too.

One thing to bear in mind, if you plan to stream HD programmes on BBC iPlayer, is they'll use up your download allowance much quicker than streaming in standard-definition, so you might need to upgrade to unlimited broadband if you watch lots of catch-up TV.

You'll also need a pretty fast broadband connection in order to stream in HD without being met with the evil pink circle of 'buffering' (and suffering). As well as a more detailed picture, HD delivers more vibrant colours and improved audio.

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