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Anger as Virgin Media UK Confirm Loss of Popular UKTV Channels

Monday, July 23rd, 2018 (10:39 am) - Score 4,423

After some initial warnings last week, cable operator Virgin Media has over the weekend confirmed that “unfortunately no agreement has been reached” on the fate of their UKTV channels line-up (10 channels inc. the 5 free-to-air channels, such as Dave), which means that they’ve been pulled as of midnight on 22nd July 2018.

The dispute is typically centred around money (isn’t it always). On the one hand Virgin Media claims that UKTV wanted “inflated sums” for their channel line-up, while on the other UKTV has said that Virgin Media was seeking a “drastic price cut” for the content. In any case the result is that 10 TV channels including Alibi, Gold, W, Eden, Good Food, Dave, Yesterday, Drama, Really and Home have now been pulled.

UKTV added that it was “unreasonable to ask [them] to pay to be part of a product that Virgin Media sells to customers …. Virgin Media don’t offer a TV package to customers without some kind of subscription fee. In effect, they want UKTV to subsidise their business by paying to be part of a product that they sell for a minimum of £29 a month” (worth adding that the £29 example includes broadband and phone in a bundle). Check out UKTV’s full statement.

We additionally note that while UKTV’s FTA share of viewership has increased on Virgin TV, its paid-for channel share is said to have decreased.

Darren Childs, CEO of UKTV, said:

“We’re hugely disappointed for the many customers who are losing out because our channels are no longer available through Virgin Media. We completely understand their frustration and would love to continue to bring them the shows and channels that they’re so passionate about, but we need a fair price to support our growing investment in programmes. The reality is that we just can’t accept the drastic price cut that Virgin wants.

We remain completely committed to our viewers and appreciate the thousands of messages of support that we have received. We will continue to serve our viewers through our many platform partners.”

David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer, said:

“We are as disappointed as our customers that we have had to replace UKTV’s channels.

To be clear: we are ready to restore UKTV’s free channels for our customers immediately with UKTV’s permission.

We have been in extensive discussions with UKTV but we have not been able to reach an agreement which reflects the reality of how people are watching television in the 21st Century.

UKTV is insisting on holding back its channels, like Dave, which are freely available over the air and online, unless we pay inflated sums of money for its paid channels like Gold. On top of this, UKTV is unable to provide the extensive on-demand programming which is expected of a modern day broadcaster.

We have already replaced UKTV’s channels with a suite of high-quality programming. This includes the Paramount Network with shows like Suits and Designated Survivor; YourTV, a new channel which is home to Castle, Bones and Body of Proof; inclusive access to Premier Sports which has all of the football matches from the International Champions Cup and numerous new box sets available on-demand such as Shades of Blue, Supergirl and Madam Secretary.”

Disputes like the one above are uncommon, but they do occur and the pressure being place on traditional Pay TV providers by internet-only streaming firms like Netflix and Amazon Prime is one reason why we might see more of this in the future as the old model of broadcasting fights for survival.

However, it’s still at least possible to view UKTV’s 5 free-to-air channels via Terrestrial TV (Freeview and Freesat), as well as via Sky TV (Sky Broadband), BT and TalkTalk’s platform. Meanwhile Virgin Media has decided to compensate for the loss of UKTV by adding a bunch of new premium TV channels and content “at no extra cost” (listed below), although this may not placate the frustration being vented by some customers.

Virgin TV’s Replacement Channels

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

Leave a Comment
15 Responses
  1. David T says:

    Unfortunately the quality of the programming is sub-par and even my wife asked on seeing Paramount Network, ” WHY are they showing Neighbours?” Virgin have really fumbled the ball here, and the canned replies are fanning the flames!

    1. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Christ only knows what your wife thought of the UKTV line up then where every single channel in 99.9% of cases is re-runs of old programming.

    2. Ryan BT says:

      UKTV makes up about 25% of the viewership(correct word?) of Virgin’s TV subscriberbase. People like to watch re-runs over and over again. This is a huge loss in content for Virgin. Although other options are present for consumers if they also have BT, Sky, Talk Talk TV, Freeview or FreeSat. UKTV player and some other sources like Netflix. Although it’s worth pointing out that the demographic watching UKTV content is unlikely to be interested/unwilling to access it through the web or mobile and it’s also unlikely they have another TV provider. Hopefully they have freesat and freeview. Worth noting no other pay TV provider having any issues with UKTV, just virgin….

    3. Ryan BT says:

      **Watching UKTV content on a traditional set to box…

    4. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      “UKTV makes up about 25% of the viewership”

      Where does that stat come from?

    5. Clifford says:

      “Worth noting no other pay TV provider having any issues with UKTV, just virgin….”

      Wasn’t Drama and Home scrapped from BT TV???

      I do not see them listed any longer on…
      https://www.productsandservices.bt.com/tv/channels/
      in any of the TV packages (about half way down the page)

  2. Munch 22 says:

    Would rather the TV channels that require a tv licence disappeared so it could buy cable gain. Still netflix and prime does me. I don’t have to buy a UK licence as I don’t watch anything past prime netflix and you tube. Give me choice of not including the TV channels covered by licence fee and I’d run back to cable.

    1. andyroochoo says:

      You have a skewed version of why you think you do/do not have to pay a tv license.

      You are paying to watch or record live tv irrespective of the channel watched.

    2. wireless pacman says:

      Not 100% sure, but think you are wrong there Andy

    3. wireless pacman says:

      Just checked… I am 100% wrong and Andy is 100% correct. 🙂

  3. Ethel Prunehat says:

    So, Virgin Media, how does it feel when someone is making you pay more than you’d like for something you don’t want, in order to get something that you do want?

    1. Clifford says:

      If that were the case which i doubt (the situation sounds far more complicated) Then their answer like anybody with any common sense is obviously if it costs too much then rather than moan like a baby you just do not buy it.

  4. mike says:

    Rubbish channels. I wouldn’t even have noticed they were gone if not for this article.

  5. Gregory says:

    I wonder if the same thing will happen to sky with their upcoming no dish package I see that virgin have also got problems with it now

  6. Gregory says:

    I wonder if the same thing will happen to sky with their upcoming no dish package I see that virgin have also got problems with itv now

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