The operators of FreeSports think they are more widely available than they actually are, with more viewers impacted by the removal of the service from Freeview at the end of June.
At 11:00 on the 30th June, FreeSports was removed from Freeview. The closure coincided with the termination of the seventh national multiplex (COM7), which carried the channel. According to the broadcaster, it would continue to be available on Sky, Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk and online.
But BT TV and TalkTalk viewers say the channel is nowhere to be seen.
FreeSports is adamant it is available on both platforms. Publicity for FreeSports even claims BT TV and TalkTalk TV viewers can still see the service on channel 64 (image above). In fact, channel 64 is currently occupied by Blaze.
A quick look at the BT TV guide also confirms FreeSports is not present here, nor anywhere else on the channel list:
The situation is the same on TalkTalk TV, for viewers on both old and new TalkTalk TV boxes.
So what’s gone wrong and why isn’t FreeSports there?
Both BT TV and TalkTalk TV piggyback off the Freeview signal.
Anything between channels 1 and 299 and 600 and 799 are from Freeview, and on the same channel numbers as Freeview. Anything between channel 300 and 599 are delivered via the internet and provided by BT and TalkTalk. (From 1st August, TalkTalk will no longer directly provide anything between channel 300-599, instead extra content will be available through streaming apps. New TalkTalk TV viewers could never receive anything in this channel range.)
When FreeSports was removed from Freeview, access on both BT and TalkTalk TV boxes also came to an end.
As for FreeSports being on BT and TalkTalk channel 64 – that was a hangover from when the channel was originally on that number. It changed to channel 65 in January, on not just Freeview but also BT and TalkTalk TV. At that point, Blaze moved to channel 64. That’s TV UK currently occupies channel 65.
Where is FreeSports still available?
At the time of publication, it’s still broadcasting on Sky, Virgin Media and online through the FreeSports player website www.freesportsplayer.tv. Additionally, FreeSports is carried on Samsung TV Plus in the UK.
All this may change though in the coming months. The parent company of FreeSports, Premier Sports, has been taken over by Viaplay. Viaplay has indicated this will mean changes to the channels in the future.
Meanwhile, Viaplay hasn’t yet confirmed which devices its app will be available on when it launches this autumn. Its inclusion on BT or TalkTalk TV boxes would open up Viaplay’s sports content to subscribers.
Could FreeSports ever return to Freeview?
This will depend now on Viaplay and how it fits into their strategy.
Technically, there is still some spare slots for new services to launch on Freeview. Two Freeview multiplexes are currently running with spare capacity. One slot was advertised in June by multiplex operator SDN and was not filled during the 30th June changes to Freeview.
Iain Hatton, features writer, RXTV