Sky has announced that the National Geographic Channel is to join its Sky HD package next year when the service launches.

The channel is the first of the third-party channels to announce that it will be involved in the High Defintion service.

National Geographic HD will offer a range of HD content on the Sky HD service including factual programming produced in the UK and around the world, covering natural history, wildlife, science and world exploration.

National Geographic HD will broadcast programmes such as Oceans of Glass, Earth Shock: Volcano and Megastructures with the added benefit of Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

National Geographic HD is the first channel from a third party broadcaster to be added to Sky's HD channel line-up of six wholly-owned channels.

Sky has said discussions are continuing with a number of other broadcasters interested in offering HD services and further details will be announced over the coming months.

Although Sky has yet to set a date or price for a UK launch it has confirmed that it will be launching six channels; Sky Sports, Sky One, two movie channels, Artsworld and one Sky Box Office channel.