In an unsurprising move, Channel 4 will close down a bundle of channels that it only bought outright five years ago.
- Music channels including The Box will close later this year.
- Part of Channel 4’s shift online, announced today.
- Affected channels have been side-lined for years – but Channel 4 says some of its other channels will be closing in the coming years.
Channel 4 is taking the axe to the Box music channels on Sky, Freesat and Virgin Media, which they only bought outright in 2019. It struggled to make any money from them, and they don’t fit into Channel 4’s future objectives.
The move is part of a wider shift online and streaming that the broadcaster is making in response to declining revenues. Further details of Channel 4’s announcement….
What are the affected channels?
The five channels that Channel 4 is closing this year are the Box music channels, which are:
- The Box
- Kerrang! TV
- Kiss TV
- Magic TV
They’re known as the Box music channels as they were once known as The Box Plus Network. This was a joint venture between Channel 4 and Emap (now Bauer), established in the 00s.
The last three in the list above are broadcast under branding licence to Bauer Media. Bauer Media previously owned a 50% share in the channels until 2019. The radio stations of the same name, owned by Bauer, are not affected by Channel 4’s decision.
4Music replaced Box Hits in 2022, back when Channel 4 took away its Freeview slot to launch E4 Extra.
When will they close?
Channel 4 has said they will close later this year.
Why is the move not surprising?
Channel 4 has long touted its online credentials. So it seemed odd that Channel 4 would never integrate the channels into its Channel 4 streaming platform.
Until last October, live streams of the channels continued to be available via the Box Plus Network website. They were axed without replacement.
In its time in full control of the Box music channels, Channel 4 continued to side-line the services. 4Music, perhaps the best known of the channel brands, was dropped from Freeview. A streaming red button service that gave Freeview users access to music channels not on Freeview was also pulled, just as support for red button streaming services began to reach a critical mass.
Channel 4 also pulled the plug on the Box Plus Network app and reduced the number of channels. Box Upfront was killed off eleven months after Channel 4 took control in 2019. Box Hits was closed to make way for 4Music on satellite in 2022.
These are all things you wouldn’t do if you were planning to develop the business.
Music channels not as relevant today
Thanks to YouTube, Spotify, Vevo and other apps, we have different ways to access our favourite music and music videos.
As a result, music channels have had to diversify to survive. Some have added reality programmes to reach a younger demographic. Others have chosen to show older music, to reach audiences who grew up with music channels.
In the UK, there’s been a steady decline in the number of music channels. Just last year, Trace Music closed its last Sky music channel. It’s now launched new streaming-only music channels.
For The Box, its closure will end more than three decades of broadcasting. The channel was originally launched by cable operators in the 1990s allowing subscribers to choose the next track. Each cable operator had the ability to regionalise the output, so viewers could control the playlist shown in their area. This regionalisation was lost after the service launched on satellite and cable operators switched to a single, national version of the channel.
Are any more Channel 4 services closing?
All other channels are also under threat. Channel 4 says it will close those channels at what it says will be “the right time”.
Of course, Channel 4 does at the present time have a legal obligation to retain its main channel. That’s the basis of its existence as a public service broadcaster.