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.
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.
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.
Sony, the Japanese electronics and entertainment company, has sold its portfolio of UK television channels to US investment firm Narrative Capital. The channels sold include the Sony Channel, Sony Movies, Sony Movies Action, and Sony Movies Classic which feature the Sony brand, and children’s channels Pop, Pop Max, and Tiny Pop.
The use of the Sony brand has not been included in the sale, and as such the Sony brand will be replaced with the Great! brand on the 25th May (2021). The Pop brand is expected to be retained, and the programme line-up is also expected to remain similar in the short term.
The current Sony branded channel line-up formed as recently as January 2020, when the True and Movies4Men brands were discontinued in favour of a rationalised channel line up under the unified Sony brand.
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.
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.
Following the Ofcom licence revocation, Chinese international news channel CGTN will resume broadcasts in the UK.
An agreement pre-dating the European Union allows TV channels licensed in France to broadcast in the UK.
As CGTN has such a license, it will resume UK broadcasts in due course, once prepartions have been made to uplink the channel from France, a requirement of the licence.
Unlike the UK France does allow state controlled TV channels, but like the UK still regulates the output of the channel. This means CGTN could find itself back in trouble, if it does not stick to the rules in France.
While I was away, it was confirmed that BBC Three is returning as a linear TV channel, to the Freesat, Freeview, Sky, and Virgin Media platforms.
CBBC will revert to its original finishing time of 7pm. BBC Three will feature a strand of programmes suitable for 13 to 18 year olds from 7pm to 9pm. The return of BBC Three is scheduled for early 2021.
Although frequencies are available for the return of BBC Three, the original channel numbers have been reassigned to other services. It has not been confirmed which numbers BBC Three will be given, but as a BBC service, it will be given priority for a low number high on the EPG.
BBC Four remains, but will become an archive channel, and will no longer receive new commissioned shows. Some live art programming will remain, as part of the cost reducing changes.
Premium channel Lifetime will leave the Sky, Virgin Media, and Youview powered platforms in the UK and Ireland, as the channel is closing at the end of the month.
Two sources offer different closure dates, with Media Mole suggesting 28th February (2021) in the headline but contradicting itself with March 1st in quote. TV Channel Lists opts for March 1st. A closure in the early hours of 1st March is most likely, meaning the 28th February should be the last full day of broadcasts.
Lifetime is owned by A&E Television Networks, and replaced The Biography Channel seven years ago. With a BARB average audience share of just 0.03%, the channel has struggled to attract an audience, lagging behind sister channels including free to air Blaze (0.29%), and premium channels Sky History (0.22%) and Crime+Investigation (0.16%).
The other channels will remain, with Lifetime content expected to be accommodated on the other channels. In other parts of the world, Lifetime continues to be available in Poland and Africa, although the outlet in Malta is also closing.