Virgin Media drops UKTV channels

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UK multiplay operator Virgin Media is to replace all UKTV channels from its Virgin TV service, citing changing viewing behaviours and restrictions from UKTV co-owner the BBC among the reasons for the decision.

“From Sunday all UKTV channels and programmes will be replaced on Virgin TV,” advised David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media. “Virgin Media has had a long relationship with UKTV, but viewing behaviours amongst our customers are changing and we are committed to investing in the kind of programming they want to watch, whenever and however they want to watch it. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC, UKTV is not able to provide the significant on-demand programming that we know our customers want.”

“We are still in discussions with UKTV but we have already invested in an extensive collection of replacement high-quality programming for our customers to enjoy. In addition, we continue to expand our range of on-demand and 4K Ultra HD TV with more coming this year.”

Virgin Media held a 50 per cent stake in UKTV until August 2011, selling its holding to Scripps Networks Interactive for some £239 million.

In June 2016, the pair agreed what UKTV described as a “landmark” deal, giving Virgin Media customers access to more UKTV shows than on any other pay-TV platform in the UK or Ireland. UKTV doubled the number of programmes available to Virgin Media customers, giving subscribers access to more than 10,000 hours of catch-up and box-set content.

A statement from UKTV warned that the UKTV portfolio of channels would soon cease to be available to customers of Virgin Media if the two companies failed to reach agreement over a new distribution contract.

“In discussions over a new contract, the two companies have so far been unable to reach an agreement after Virgin Media requested a significant cut in the fees that it pays to UKTV. The existing agreement will expire at midnight on Saturday 21 July.  Without a new agreement, UKTV’s ten channels, including Dave, Gold, Alibi and Drama will no longer be available on the Virgin Media platform,” said UKTV.

“The proposed price cut comes despite UKTV’s offer to provide additional value to Virgin Media and its customers. As part of a new deal, the broadcaster is proposing to offer Virgin Media an increased range of on demand catch-up and boxsets, enhanced distribution rights, and an additional channel, Gold HD.”

“We want to continue to provide our channels to Virgin Media, but the huge cut in fees that Virgin has requested doesn’t reflect the value we bring to customers,” stated Darren Childs, Chief Executive of UKTV.

“UKTV’s channels account for over a quarter of pay entertainment channel viewing within Virgin Media’s basic subscription pack, while our on demand viewing has grown by over a third in the last year. The money we receive from platforms helps to pay for our record investment in high-quality programmes, which we increased to more than £150 million in the last year.”

“If our 10 channels, including Dave, W, Gold and Alibi, are no longer available through Virgin, we will be hugely disappointed for the millions of customers who will lose out. We’ll keep working with other platforms to bring viewers the drama, comedy and documentaries they love.” 

A customer information page available from 10 pm said:

Changes to UKTV programming on Virgin TV

From Sunday all UKTV channels and programming will be replaced on Virgin TV.

We are still in discussions with UKTV but we have already invested in an extensive collection of new and high-quality programming for our customers to enjoy (depending on the TV bundle taken). More details on the programming that will be added and replaced is below.

This includes the Paramount Network in HD with shows like Suits and Designated Survivor; YourTV, a new channel which is home to Castle, Bones and Body of Proof; Love Nature, which is exclusive to Virgin TV and has some stunning nature programmes such as Africa’s Wildest Horizon’s and Great Wild Blue; IQTV, which contains some of best quiz shows like Mastermind and The Weakest Link; and numerous new box sets such as Shades of Blue, Supergirl and Madam Secretary.

We will also be making the Premier Sports HD channel available to all TV customers initially for two months with no additional subscription required (usually £9.99 per month).  This will mean our customers can enjoy all of the football matches from the International Champions Cup, which features the best six teams in the English Premier League and many of the top European teams.  This weekend both Manchester City and Liverpool will face Dortmund and Bayern Munich will take on Paris Saint-Germain.  Alongside the football many other gripping sporting events are available on Premier Sports – from every Pro 14 Rugby game to NHL ice hockey matches.

Some of our existing channels, such as Lifetime and True Entertainment which hosts programmes such as Murder, She Wrote, The Persuaders and The New Avengers will also made available to more of our TV customers at no extra cost.

On top of this we continue to expand our range of on-demand and 4K Ultra HD TV, with plans to launch more this year.

Virgin Media has had a long relationship with UKTV, but viewing behaviours amongst our customers are changing and we are committed to investing in the kind of programming they want to watch, whenever and however they want to watch it. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC, UKTV is not able to provide the significant on-demand programming that we know our customers want so we have invested elsewhere.

What programming will be added to Virgin TV?

From July 22nd the new and updated programming on Virgin TV will be as follows. For those unsure which TV package they have this can be viewed online by logging into My Virgin Media.

Channel No.

Replacement Channel

Lowest TV Tier Availability

Key Programmes

124

Paramount Network HD

Player

Suits, CSI: Miami, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Designated Survivor and The Mick

125

Lifetime SD

Mix

Britain’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of New Jersey and I Can Make you a Supermodel

126

True Entertainment

Player

MASH, Murder, She Wrote, The Persuaders, The New Avengers and much, much more

127

Premier Sports HD (no subscription needed)

Player

Home of Guinness Pro 14 and the International Champions Cup

128

Your TV

Player

Castle, Bones and Body of Proof

129

4Music

Player

The latest hit music,  most talked about stars and the very best in comedy and entertainment

130

Freesports

Player

Pro14 rugby and NHL and turbo-charged NASCAR and World Rallycross Championships

131

Sky Sports Mix

Mix

Some of the world’s biggest sporting events

190

True Entertainment +1

Player

See above

191

Vice

Player

My House and The Ice Cream Show, alongside relevant local and international premieres

194

Quest HD

Player

Deadliest Catch, Gold Rush, Wheeler Dealers and English Football League highlights

200

C&I HD

Full House

From The Jail: 60 Days In, Homicide Hunter

211

Discovery Turbo

Player

Supercar Superbuild, Street Outlaws, Wheeler Dealers

245

History HD

Full House

Knightfall, Vikings and Black Sails and fan favourites Forged in Fire and Storage Wars

246

Lifetime +1

Mix

See above

247

Love Nature HD

Full House

Africa’s Wildest Horizons, Great Blue Wild and Wildest Europe in HD

248

ZooMoo

Full House

Nature documentaries for all the family

249

Love Nature SD

Mix

Africa’s Wildest Horizon’s and Great Wild Blue

278

Together

Player

Super Foods: The Real Story,  Extremely British Muslims,

279

Horse & Country

Player

A specialist TV channel for equestrian sports and lifestyle

281

More4

Player

Lifestyle, documentaries and US drama, from brand new programmes to the best of Channel 4

282

More4 +1

Player

As above

346

Now 80s

Player

A much-loved 80’s music party channel

On-Demand/Box Sets

 

Name

Lowest available TV tier

Key programmes

IQTV

Mix

Mastermind, Only Connect, Countdown

Sky Box Sets

Full House

Shades of Blue, Supergirl, Blindspot, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, MacGyver and Madam Secretary

Nat Geo Box Sets

Full House

Antarctica, Brain Games and Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist

 

How can customers watching UKTV once these channels go?

We have already invested in new programming that you will be able to enjoy. However, there are still a number of ways to watch UKTV:

Virgin TV customers with access to Freeview should be able to receive the UKTV free-to-air channels (such as Dave).

Virgin TV customers can also watch many UKTV programmes for free online or through UKTV’s mobile app.

Finally, Virgin TV customers with a Netflix subscription can watch a range of BBC programming also available on UKTV channels directly on their TiVo or V6 box.

What UKTV channels and services will be replaced?

From Sunday UKTV’s on-demand and catch up programming will no longer be available and the following channels will be replaced:

Gold – 124

W -125

Alibi -126

Dave -127

Drama – 128

Really -129

alibi +1 – 130

W +1 – 131

Gold +1 – 190

W HD – 191

Dave HD – 194

alibi HD – 200

Dave Ja Vu -211

Yesterday – 245

Yesterday +1 – 246

Eden – 247

Eden +1                – 248

Eden HD – 249

Good Food – 278

Good Food +1 – 279

Good Food HD – 280

Home – 281

Home +1 – 282

 


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