BBC Three Relaunch Day Confirmed

Tuesday 1st February (2022) will see the return of BBC Three. The part time channel will return at 7pm, with a mixed genre format targeting younger viewers.

The channel will be available on Freeview terrestrial TV, Sky and Freesat via satellite, and cable through Virgin Media. As yet, channel numbers are yet to be confirmed, with the BBC stating that these will be confirmed at a later date.

Additionally, the channel will be available to live stream on internet connected devices via the iPlayer.

Pre-launch tests have already begun ahead of launch, using a promotional loop. These are being broadcast on satellite and terrestrial. The satellite transmissions are free to air and can be manually tuned, but the terrestrial transmissions are hidden so Freeview receivers won’t yet be able to tune in to the channel.

BBC Three will appear on the respective platform EPGs in due course. Except Freeview, this will happen automatically. Freeview viewers may need to retune, but should wait until the channel becomes visible before doing this.

Talk TV On Course for Launch, but Still Vague on Details

Talk TV (stylised as talkTV), from Talk Sport and Times Radio owners News UK, is still on course for an early 2022 launch, as more details on programmes are slowly being revealed.

The channel is not expected to follow a traditional pure news format. Among programmes to be shown are a weekly news based satire show, along with documentaries, sports, and other entertainment programmes.

Existing Times Radio presenter Tom Newton Dunn is to move to the upcoming TV channel, whilst Peirs Morgan has been lined up for a flagship show on weekdays.

News UK have reiterated that the channel will be on major TV platforms and streaming services, but has yet to confirm which of these will broadcast the channel at launch.

The service is expected to be a rival for recently launched GB News, which started broadcasts in June 2021 on TV, before commencing DAB+ broadcasts earlier this month.

Sky Offer TV Without a Satellite Dish

On the 18th October (2021), Sky launched Sky Glass, a new way to access Sky TV without the need for a satellite dish. Unlike other Sky TV services, Sky Glass uses a specially designed TV, eliminating the need for a separate box. The new service utilises an internet connection, with a minimum speed of 10mbps to stream the channels, instead of a satellite dish. However, the TV can be connected to a terrestrial aerial, which functions as a backup only for a limited number of channels, should the internet connection fail.

The channel line up broadly mirrors that of the main Sky service, with all Sky Channels (including Pick and Challenge), plus those from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, ViacomCBS, Warner Bros. Discovery, UKTV, and BT Sport available. HD (high definition) channels are include as standard, including (for the first time on any platform) all BBC One regions in HD, and HD versions of 5 Star, 5 USA, and Paramount Network not currently in HD via satellite.

However, not all channels available with Sky’s satellite service are available on Sky Glass, as Sky has not concluded carriage deals with all broadcasters for inclusion on Sky Glass. Notable absentees are Freesports, GB News, Great TV and other Great branded channels, children’s channel Pop, QVC, and the Now branded music channels, amongst others. Some of these may be added in the near future, but Sky are yet to confirm this.

The usual Sky Q features, such as voice control and the pausing of live programmes are also included in the new Sky Glass TVs. However, unlike with previous Sky Q and Sky HD boxes, recordings are stored ‘in the cloud’ on a remote server instead of the users device. It is unclear what impact this will have, but this should enable users of the TV to access recordings on another device should the TV fail. However, Sky have not confirmed this. One drawback is that viewers will be unable to access recordings without an internet connection.

The new Sky Glass TVs are ulta HD (4K) compatible, and also feature Dolby Vision, 5 speakers, and a sub-woofer. This reduces the need for an external sound bar. The TV is available in 3 sizes; small (43″), medium (55″) and large (65″), and can be bought upfront or with the cost spread over 24 or 48 months. The TV costs £26, £34, or £42 a month respectively if spread over 24 months (not including the subscription). An ongoing Sky subscription is required to access most features, however. Sky will deliver and set up the TV, but although the Sky Glass TV can be wall mounted, you will need to arrange for this yourself.

Like Sky Q, Sky Glass can also be added to other TVs, using a device called Sky Puck. This is a set top box which plugs into your existing TV, costing £50 each. This adds a £10 surcharge to the subscription cost, but a single surcharge covers all Sky Puck devices. Unlike Sky Q miniboxes, the new Sky Puck devices are 4K compatible.

This is not the first time Sky have innovated with a new product idea. Sky has already successfully launched dish free services in Germany and Italy, but this has been with a more convential set top box based service. Time will tell if the new Sky Glass service is successful.

Channel 4 and Channel 5 Disrupted by Red Bee Media Incident

Viewers of Channel 4 and Channel 5 are continuing to face disruption caused by an incident at transmission provider Red Bee Media. Some BT Sport channels are also affected, as is the BBC.

Red Media Media provide playout facilities, forming part of the infrastructure that enables the channels to broadcast. An incident has caused damage to the servers which enable this.

The BBC were able to switch seamlessly to a backup service, allowing all TV channels to continue broadcasts as or close to normal. Channel 5 has also returned to air, with a black and white triangle logo in the right hand corner of the screen indicating the channel is using back up facilities.

Channel 4 and it’s sister channels (including the Box Plus Network) is experiencing the most disruption. The disruption varies from platform to platform, but E4 +1 is currently off-air on Freeview, and most Box Plus Network channels are simulcasting either The Box or Kiss. Online live streams are off-air, and viewers are reporting problems with sound and picture quality.

It is unclear what the exact cause of the disruption is, or when problems will be resolved.

Plusnet TV Service to Close in October

Plusnet is closing its YouView based TV service, which combines the standard terrestrial TV service from Freeview with additional premium channels delivered over an internet connection.

The wind down of the service commenced during January, when the service was withdrawn from sale to new customers. During March, a number of channels were removed for existing customers.

The final two stages will happen in October and November. On 1st October (2021), existing customers will no longer be charge for the service. A final switch off date is scheduled for the 1st November, at which point the remaining channels will be switch off, and associated recordings will be lost.

Plusnet TV viewers can continue to use the YouView boxes after the switch off to access Freeview channels, but will no longer have access to technical support.

Although trials began in 2013, Plusnet TV did not launch until 2015, meaning the service has been available for only 6 years. The move comes as parent company BT switches focus away from multi-platform services to the wide scale roll out of fibre broadband. BT had already slimmed down its TV offering, rebuilding it around Sky’s Now (formerly Now TV) platform.

BITE Launches in the UK

BITE (or as the author will now type it, Bite), has launched in the UK via Channel Box, a streamed channel on the Freeview terrestrial platform.

Bite specialises in programmes around fresh food, and plans to launch on Rakuten TV and other platforms in due course.

Channel Box can be found on Freeview channel number 271, in the areas covered by the commercial multiplexes, offering coverage to around 90% of the UK population. Viewers will need to have their Freeview box or TV connected to the internet in order to access the service.

Sky Content Changes

Sky is making a further change to its channel line up, with Sky One set to be closed, and two new channels launched in its place.

Sky Showcase will take Sky One’s current EPG slot and numbers, and will become a channel showcasing content from Sky’s entire channel portfolio, including its sports and film channels. It remains to be seen if there will ben overlap with the Sky Replay channel, which recently rebranded from Sky Two. It will be linear only, without an on-demand platform attached, something which is a rarity in current trends.

A new channel, Sky Max, will become home to the latest premium content from Sky, with drama’s such as A Discovery of Witches and COBRA, and comedy panel shows including A League of Their Own and the returning Never Mind The Buzzcocks, to feature on the channel. Sky Max will be available in both linear and on-demand forms.

Comedy shows Code 404 and Hitmen Reloaded, both previously on Sky One, will find a new home on the Sky Comedy channel, which is being updated with a revised programme line-up.

All three channels will be or are available to Sky, Virgin Media (cable), and BT TV customers. The changes see the end of a long history for Sky One, which launched in April 1982. At over 39 years old, it’s the oldest non-terrestrial TV channel in the UK.

All of the above changes will take effect from the 1st September (2021), alongside a wider reshuffle of channel number/EPG allocations. Additionally, NBCUniversal’s new Peacock streaming service will soon be rolled out to Sky customers across Europe later this year (2021), at no extra cost.

BT in Discussions Over BT Sport

As reported by Advanced Television BT has entered discussions over a potential sale of BT Sport. Options range from a full sale to partial sale or joint venture arrangement.

It is likely that any procceeds raising will be invested into the roll out of fibre broadband.

BT Sport currently opperate 5 channels available through BT TV, Sky, and Virgin Media, BT Sport 1, 2, 3, BT Sport Ultimate, and BT Sport ESPN. The latter is a co-branded joint venture with ESPN, showing US sport, while BT Sport Ultimate shows content in 4K resolution.

That’s 60s For Valentines

Apologies for the delay in this post due to personal commitments.

Over the Valentines weekend of February 13th/14th, music service That’s TV re-branded as That’s 60s for the occasion, temporarily flipping to an advert free format of 60s music.

Traditionally showing music videos from the 1970s and 80s, the channel is introducing music from the 40s, 50s, and 60s for the first time, alongside local news provision.

Localised versions of That’s TV are available in some areas on Freeview channel 7 or 8, with national streamed version of the channel available on the Vision TV portal on channel number 264.

BT to Drop Several Channels

BT TV, the YouView powered hybrid terrestrial and IPTV platform, is to drop several channels from its Classic Entertainment pack. This is expected to be a complete removal, with the channels to also be removed from legacy packages.

On the 1st March (2021), the following channels will be removed (including HD versions):

  • Crime+Investigation
  • Sky History
  • Sky History2
  • Vice

On the 1st April (2021), the following channels will be removed (including HD versions):

  • Syfy
  • E! (including HD version)

A reason for the removal is yet to be confirmed.