There are numerous test services on air at the moment – a precursor to new channels arriving on Sky in the coming months.
Sky viewers won’t be able to see any of the services in their channel list just yet: all TV channels undergo a spell of technical testing before they go live on the Sky Electronic Programme Guide. This ensures when the services do launch, they meet a minimum specification.
Here are five services currently going through testing:
UKTV’s factual channel Yesterday is the home of WW2 documentaries, factual shows on the topic of engineering, alongside car auction series Bangers & Cash, Michael Portillo’s Great Continental Railway Journeys and a classic comedy slot at the weekends.
Tests carrying a high definition version of the channel are now underway on satellite. There’s been no confirmation from UKTV nor Sky, so this could be a surprise addition to Sky homes.
In line with other similar channels, only the standard definition version is free-to-air and also available on Freesat. The HD version that is being tested is encrypted.
- Yesterday HD test transmissions Astra 2F, 28.2°E 12227 H (SR 27500, FEC 2/3) Service ID: 6500 Encrypted.
Classic Hits (That’s Music)
Created by the people behind That’s TV, the classic music channel, predominantly featuring tracks from the 70s, 80s and 90s, is already available overnight on Freeview channel 91. It was originally launched as ‘That’s Music’, but rebranded to Classic Hits at the end of June.
Now the 24/7 feed of the channel is currently testing and awaiting its official launch on Sky.
- Classic Hits by That’s TV test transmissioins: Astra 2G, 28.2°E 11582 H (SR 22000, FEC 5/6) Service ID: 52121 Free-to-air.
BBC Two Northern Ireland HD
The only version of BBC Two not available in high definition on satellite. Tests having been running since the spring, a long time to be setting up a channel. However, it’s the first BBC service to use Sky’s own transponder capacity rather than the BBC’s own allocated space. Therefore, a slightly different distribution chain is required to get the channel on satellite, and thus longer than usual testing. It’s also due to be coming to Freesat as it’s also testing behind the scenes on Freesat’s programme guide.
Once live, it means BBC Two will be universally available in HD on Sky HD/Q and Freesat channel 102.
- BBC Two Northern Ireland HD test transmissions: Astra 2F, 28.2°E 12226 V (SR27500, FEC 2/3, DVB-S2, 8PSK) Service ID 1200/1199 Free-to-air.
Channel 4 HD (regions)
Channel 4 HD is already available on Sky. But unless you live in London, you won’t find it on the fourth slot of the TV guide. That’s because Channel 4 offers different adverts in different parts of the UK. And until each ad region is made available in HD, Channel 4 HD can’t move more widely to channel 104.
HD tests for each Channel 4 ad-region have resumed after a break earlier this year, however all tests are currently encrypted. They are being broadcast on Sky’s transponder capacity, instead of Channel 4’s own space. STV has a similar deal with Sky, which means all of STV’s regional HD variants are available on Sky, but not Freesat.
- Channel 4 HD regions testing Astra 2E, 28.5°E 12363 V (SR27500, FEC 2/3, DVB-S2, 8PSK) Service ID 5202 & 5248 ▪ Astra 2F, 28.2°E 12168V (SR27500, FEC 2/3, DVB-S2, 8PSK) Service ID 5213 & 5249 ▪ Astra 2F, 28.2°E 12110 H (SR27500, FEC 2/3, DVB-S2, 8PSK) Service ID 5250 ▪ Astra 2F, 28.2°E 12226 H (SR27500, FEC 2/3, DVB-S2, 8PSK) Service ID 5246. All Encrypted.
Sky Sports Main Event UHD
Sky has been spotted running tests under the label of a 4K UHD/HDR version of its sports showcase channel, Sky Sports Main Event.
Rival BT Sport has had a dedicated 4K UHD channel since 2015, whereas Sky has so far chosen to offer a selection of sports and non-sports content via a generic UHD red button service rather than offer subscribers a full-time UHD channel.
Update 22/07/2022: Since publishing this article, Sky has confirmed the inclusion of Sky Sports Main Event in UHD on the Sky EPG. It will be known as ‘Sky Sports Main Event Ultra HDR‘.
- Sky Sports Main Event Ultra HD Astra 2E, 28.5°E 11758 H (SR27500, FEC 2/3, DVB-S2, 8PSK) Service ID 9801/9811 Encrypted.
Will all testing channels automatically go live on Sky?
There is never a 100% guarantee that all channels will go live, at least not immediately. There have been a few occasions over the years where a testing channel abruptly stops broadcasting and doesn’t go live. Where that has happened, the channel may reappear in the future for further tests before becoming available to viewers.
Iain Hatton, features writer, RXTV
Updated 23/07/2022 12:03