Juan Pablo Conti ©RapidTVNews | 01-08-2011

Pay-TV broadcaster UKTV is on the verge of becoming Britain’s largest third-party supplier of HD content to BSkyB.

Having started life humbly as a single channel in 1992 (UK Gold, offering mainly BBC re-runs), half of the company’s ten existing channels will be available in HD on the DTH platform from next year.

While Sky viewers have had access to two of UKTV’s HD channels for some time (Eden HD and Good Food HD), this October will see the addition of Watch HD and Dave HD, before Alibi HD goes live in 2012.

As part of a wider content deal signed between the satellite operator and the joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media, UKTV will also make its video-on-demand (VOD) debut. The service, which the broadcaster claims will offer “hundreds of hours of programming throughout the year, cherry-picked from across [our] network,” is scheduled to launch on Sky Anytime+ this September.

Aiming to have nine new box sets available on its VOD platform every year, UKTV will include a mixture of programming from the BBC archive, third-party acquisitions and its own commissions.

Meanwhile, ongoing talks between Virgin Media (which is looking to off-load its share of the JV) and a number of interested parties is yet to produce any concrete results. American media company Scripps Networks Interactive is believed to be the frontrunner to buy the 50 percent stake in the British company.