ITV Regions Going HD on Freesat and Sky

All ITV regions will soon be available in HD (high definition) on the Sky and Freesat satellite platforms. The official launch of new regional HD service takes place on the Tuesday 20th October (2020).

This means a fully regionalised ITV HD service will soon be available to viewers in England, the Scottish Borders, and Wales. Until now, only some regions had a HD version of ITV on satellite.

As a result, ITV HD will move to the more prominent channel number 103 on HD compatible equipment.. On Freesat, ITV HD is currently on channel 111, whilst on Sky in regions with a HD feed ITV HD is on channel 176.

Viewers with older SD (standard definition) equipment will continue to find the SD version of ITV on 103.

Sky Q Gains Netflix in HDR

Netflix shows in HDR (high dymanic range) quality can now be found on Sky Q, joining a growing collection of HDR content.

HDR content includes some Sky Nature shows, alongside other Sky originals including Cobra and Save Me Too. Subscribers to Disney + have access to Disney content in HDR.

The Secret Garden is the first Sky Cinema original film to be made available in HDR. Live sport in HDR is also expected next year (2021).

Record Audience for Sky Sports

Thanks to a large amount of live sport on the 4th October (2020), Sky Sports have achieved a record audience.

In figures published by Sky Sports,  Sky Sports’ averaged 933,000 throughout the day, accounting for a 11.7% audience share.

3.3 million viewers tuned in at the peak, which occurred just before 5pm, which was a 25% audience share.

Sky Sports Cricket on YouTube

From today (21st September 2020), Sky Sports is streaming all 5 matches of the T20 Women’s Cricket series between England and the West Indies for free.

The coverage is available on the Sky Sports YouTube channel, in addition to live coverage on the Sky Sports Cricket Channel.

This is the schedule:

  • 21st September: 1st Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm
  • 23rd September: 2nd Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm
  • 26th September: 3rd Vitality IT20 at 1pm
  • 28th September: 4th Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm
  • 30th September: 5th Vitality IT20 at 6.30pm

Sky Arts Now on Freeview

As previously reported, Sky Arts has now gone free-to-air. The channel is available on Sky, Freesat, Freeview, and Virgin Media, and shows arts and culture based programmes.

Sky Arts is now available on Freeview channel 11, and has achieved a prominent position on the EPG due to number swapping with other Sky owned channels.

This means that the channel is close to channels from public service broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, who already show arts and culture based programmes.

All September Premier League Matches to Be Televised

With Covid-19 still forcing matches to be played behind closed doors, it has been confirmed that all September Premier League football matches will be shown live on TV.

Sky and BT Sport had already selected to show 17 matches, with a further 11 to also now be shown. Of these, Sky will show a further six, BT Sport will show a further three, with Amazon Prime and the BBC to show one each.

The BBC have confirmed that they will be showing Leicester City’s home fixture against Burnley, on 20th September (2020) with kick-off at 7pm.

It has not been confirmed if more Championship, League 1, and League 2 games will be televised.

Merit Ownership Change

It is being reported that the recently launched Merit has had its license transferred from ITV to Sky.

Under Freeview rules, channel operators cannot transfer or sell channel numbers. It appears that to get around this, ITV have created Merit in order to transfer the channel number to Sky.

Sky are planning on launching Sky Arts as a free to air channel, and Merit’s channel number could be used for the new Freeview version of the channel, possibly being combined within the bandwidth currently used by Sky owned challenge.

At this time, any potential development is simply speculation. Another scenario, given that Merit has focused on food, home, and gardening programmes, is that Sky may be planning on launching their own food or home related channel. Merit could end up forming the basis of this.

Although Merit launched on Freeview only, the channel has been broadcasting on satellite using CITV downtime, although did not join the Sky or Freesat EPG.

There are likely to be more developments in the Merit story.

Update: 23/08/2020. I’ve since learnt that Sky Arts is to take channel number 11, meaning Sky Pick would take 34 as this would be the highest Sky owned channel number. It is still unclear what will happen to Challenge.

Another Sky Rebrand

Sky Two is expected to re-brand on the 3rd September (2020) to Sky Replay. It is unclear what, if any programme changes will be made, but it would appear the channel will be used for repeats of programmes on other Sky owned channels.

Sky Two is currently available on Sky’s satellite platform, and Virgin Media’s cable platform, and is expected to continue on both platforms.

Sky Sports to Launch NFL Channel

Sky and American sports league NFL have agree a new five year rights deal, which will see a new dedicated channel launch.

Sky Sports NFL will launch on 3rd September ahead of the 2020 season, on channel 407 of the Sky satellite platform. The service will be available to viewers in both the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The new agreement marks the 25th anniversary of live NFL coverage on Sky.

Sky Retains Most Customers

Sky’s owner Comcast has revealed that it has retained 99% of its customers, and 95% of Sky Sports customers, despite the impact of Covid-19.

The Q2 results also reveal that Comcast’s European revenue through its Sky division has dropped by 15.5%. This is partly as a result of allowing customers to pause sports subscriptions whilst live sport was suspended.

Comast’s Sky business comprises its broadcasting business, TV packages, and broadband and mobile services.