Sky slashes price of Sky+HD box to £49

The announcement comes as Sky revealed that HD set-top box sales jumped to 188,000 during the final quarter of 2008, double that of the previous three months and nearly six times the sales of the quarter to the end of June 2008.

This brings the total number of UK households with Sky+ HD to 779,000.

"Over the last year Sky has worked closely with manufacturing partners to be able to offer the everyday low price of £49 for a Sky+ HD box, and with channel partners to build the UK's leading HDTV service" says the company.

Sky now offers 31 dedicated high-definition TV channels, with more than 11,000 hours of content across all genres. It estimates that seven million UK households now have HD-ready TVs, and predicts that this figure will reach 14 million in 2010.

To help educate the public on how to get the best from their HDTVs, Sky will launch a major TV, billboard and press advertising campaign on February 5th.

There's still no precise date for when Sky will introduce its new HD electronic programme guide (EPG), a company spokesperson only saying "it will launch in the next six months". It was originally due to be unveiled last autumn.