2020 has started with a brutal cull of traditional TV channels as broadcasters take up streaming, go bust or just realise that there is a limit to how thinly you can spread content…
The closures have been happening so quickly, so here’s a quick catch-up of the major casualties this year so far!
Once the music channel for those a little more mature for MTV, VH1 UK flipped its format in 2018 to become a reality TV entertainment channel, like its American counterpart.
But by the time the channel ended up showing hours of repeats of Cruising with Jane McDonald – a programme already shown on Channel 5 and 5Select – it was clear the channel was sailing into the sunset…
VH1 UK was axed on the 5th January.
Launched in 2015 as the UK extension of the former US network of the same name and later integrated into Channel 5’s family of channels, all of 5Spike’s programmes have now moved across to Paramount Network, following its closure on 5th January.
Confusingly, Spike in the USA turned into Paramount Network while here in the UK, we had both Spike and Paramount Network running at the same time.
As a result of Paramount Network UK taking on 5Spike’s programmes, Paramount’s schedule looks nothing like the original UK channel launched only just under two years ago.
ITV Box Office
When we reported its demise, a number tweeted in saying they didn’t know this channel existed!
Previously located on Sky channel 493 and on the air since 2017, ITV Box Office screened boxing and wrestling events on a pay-per-view basis. And usually got some bad publicity on the way thanks to plenty of technical gremlins.
You’d be forgiven for not knowing about this children’s nature channel, which was only available on Virgin Media. It was launched in a blaze of publicity in 2018 as one of the many new exciting channels to arrive on Virgin Media – to divert attention from the (what turned out to be temporary) loss of channels such as Dave and Gold, as result of a carriage dispute between Virgin and UKTV.
Some eagle-eyed viewers had spotted something was up with this channel, long before its closure was announced. Since coming under the same owner as Sky, Universal stopped premiering new drama, in favour of new content moving to Sky Witness.
For the last few months, Universal TV had been churning out repeats of NCIS and CSI and similar US drama. On its last day, 26th January, it screened 14 hours of NCIS.
On Sky and Virgin, the channel was replaced by Sky Comedy. On BT and TalkTalk TV, the channel closed without a replacement.
This musical offshoot of the The Box was quietly axed under the guise of ‘BoXmas’. During the winter, a growing number of music and movie channels have the habit of rebranding for a couple of months going all Christmassy before returning to normal in the New Year. Not this one..
When January came and BoXmas should have turned back into Box Upfront, the channel was pulled.
Spice Girls – Goodbye finished the channel off at 6am, 9th January 2020.
Once billed as the UK’s only free-to-air sports channel (until Freesports launched in August 2017), Front Runner was the home of nightly greyhound racing coverage and at one point boasted two channels. The channel was pulled at the end of January from Sky and Freesat. It follows a year of financial difficulties at Information TV Ltd, who operated the channel.
Horse and Country
The free-to-air version of this equine channel on Sky was pulled at the end of January in favour of online distribution via streaming boxes and sticks. The premium version of the channel continues on Virgin Media, but alas: Black Beauty is no longer shown on the channel – so stop humming the theme tune…
Removed abruptly from Sky and Freesat during January, this alternative to Talking Pictures and Sony Movies Classic, showcasing vintage movies is technically still on air, if you’re lucky enough to have a compatible connected Freeview TV that can access the Channelbox portal on Freeview channel 271. More about the long-term future of the channel is unknown.
Live programmes on this very niche shopping channel ended on the 30th December. Two weeks later it got the snip from Sky’s channel list.
After its future was hanging from a thread, news emerged that the Freeview slot had been taken over by new owners, who have sewn up a deal to re-launch the service as Sewing Street in the near future.
Showcase TV, one of those channels you only know exists if you’re in the habit of flicking down the TV guide on Sky or Freesat, was pulled at the end of January. However, the channel says it’s due to return, first on Sky and later on Freesat following “a change in capacity provider”…