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The wind down of the service commenced during January, when the service was withdrawn from sale to new customers.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.

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.

Channel Numbers Confirmed for GB News

The full set of channel numbers for GB News has now by confirmed.

On the Sky satellite platform, GB News will be on 515, aquiring that number from Nigerian news channel TVC News. On the Virgin Media cable platform, GB News will be on number 626. This is in addition to the already confirmed channel numbers 216 for Freesat, and 236 for Freeview.

On Freeview, GB News will be in standard definition, while on all other platforms the channel will be in high definition (HD) only. For satellite viewers, this means users of non-HD devices will be unable to watch GB News.

The channel will launch on Sunday 13th June at 8am, with special programming to mark the launch.

Fox to Close in the UK

Disney owned TV channel Fox is to close in the UK and Ireland, in the latest phase of Disney’s move away from linear TV to on demand streaming.

The channel is currently broadcasting via the Sky satelite, and Virgin Media cable platforms, but will close on the 30th June (2021). Some content is expected to migrated to Disney+, under the Star brand.

Fox had been available in the UK for 17 years, and the its closure in the UK and Ireland is the latest stage in its gradual withdrawal.

GB News Channel Numbers

GB News, the upcoming new news channel, has now confirmed its channel numbers for Freesat and Freeview.

On Freeview, the channel will be on 236, below the current news channels, and is the COM6 multiplex which offers a coverage area of around 90%. The channel is broadcasting an information slate ahead of launch.

On Freesat, the channel will be on number 216, and will broadcast in HD. It is unclear whether a standard definition (SD) simulcast will be offered for those with older equipment. Like with Freeview, GB News will appear below existing news channels on the EPG.

Sky and Virgin Media channel numbers are yet to be confirmed. For Sky, GB News has the option of buying a channel number from an existing broadcaster, so may appear in a more prominent position on the EPG.

BBC Sounds App Added to Sky Q

A new app has been added to the Sky Q connected satellite platform. BBC Sounds allows users to access live radio, music mixes, playlists, and podcasts produced by the BBC.

The app is now available to all Sky Q customers, and can be launched using the voice control remote by saying “Launch BBC Sounds”.

Among the functions of the app is the ability to pick up where they left off on other devices. Users can subscribe to shows so they don’t miss an episode, and bookmark their favourites.

The deal expands on existing collaboration between the BBC and Sky, which saw iPlayer launch on Sky Q towards the end of 2019.

Amazon Prime on Freesat and New Partnershipe With Sky

The Amazon Prime Video app is to be added to the latest generation of Freesat boxes, providing another way for Prime Video customers to access the service. New customers will be able to sign-up via the app, and receive a 30 day free trial. The addition will enhance the hybrid offering, which includes a large selection of free-to-air channels delivered via satellite.

Sky and Amazon have also unveiled a new partnership, which will see Prime Video added to Sky and Now TV devices across Europe, including the UK and Ireland. In a return move, Now TV will be added to selected Fire TV devices and Smart TVs.

This means that Sky customers will be able to access all Premier League football matches shown live via their Sky Q box, with matches from BT Sport, Prime Video, and Sky Sports all being available via the platform. However, to do this a subscription will be required to all three services, which may be a costly exercise.

More New Features for Sky Q

Sky has unveiled another raft of new features for its Sky Q platform, which combines satellite TV with on-demand and catch-up services.

Notable features include movies in high-dynamic range (HDR), which offers better picture quality.

Viewers will now be able to watch recordings, on demand content and access apps when satellite signal is lost due to adverse weather conditions.

There are also more commands which can be used with the voice search function, including “Made for Laughter lovers” which searches for comedy programmes.

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).