Sony’s UK channels will be rebranded within weeks, as the channels transfer to new owners.
There can be few TV channels that have had such a varied recent history as Sony’s classic entertainment and movie channels. According to Variety, Sony has sold its UK channel portfolio to Narrative Capital. A new look will be unveiled on 25th May 2021, according to the report.
It follows a bumpy few years for the channels, which have undergone a series of rebrands and relaunches in just the last three years. Sony’s high profile free-to-air launch of Sony Crime channel in 2018, which replaced the existing Sony Channel on Sky and Virgin went pear-shaped within months. In 2019, the channel began to be pulled from various platforms, before closing on Sky in 2020. Sony also failed to save the UK version of TruTV from demise after buying it from Turner in 2017. It closed on 12th February 2019.
Putting a line under tumultuous period, Sony relaunched its channels in September 2019. It converted the former ‘True Entertainment’ channel into a new incarnation of Sony Channel. It also replaced Movies4Men with a classic movies channel, which flips to Christmas movies each autumn.
Recent ratings data shows the channels, operated by Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures Corporation, had a combined four-week audience share up to 2nd May of 1.61%. This put the broadcaster behind CBS AMC UK, Discovery, UKTV, Sky, Channel 5, ITV and BBC channels when comparing the four-week audience share of each of their ‘family’ of channels together. That’s despite Sony’s widespread free-to-air presence.
With the exception of the group’s ‘POP’ children’s channels, Sony’s UK channels stand out for not having an on-demand presence. According to the channel’s new owner, Narrative Entertainment, that’s going to change.
The company plans to create a ‘premier’ ad-funded video-on-demand service to drive viewers to their channels. All of its competitors have launched some form of on-demand service in the UK.
There’s also talk of pursuing licensing deals for more premium content on the channels. For the time being, what you see on these channels will stay the same: Sony will continue to supply programmes and movies under licence.
Narrative Entertainment has also confirmed it may seek to create original content for the channels in the future. Original content has boosted the fortunes of Sky, Discovery and UKTV, as viewers tire of repeats.