UKTV channels return to Virgin TV
Staff Reporter | On 11, Aug 2018Reading time: 6 mins
UKTV TV’s channels are returning to Virgin TV this weekend, after the two companies settled their recent dispute.
Starting immediately, all 10 UK TV channels are available once again on Virgin, including Dave, Gold, Alibi and Yesterday, and UKTV originals such as Taskmaster, Judge Romesh, and Emma Willis: Delivering Babies, as well as the archive of programmes from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and more.
The channels were removed from Virgin last month, after the two media firms failed to resolve their disagreements over how much Virgin paid UKTV to licence the programmes. The proposed reduction in price from Virgin was due to the lack of on-demand rights to older BBC shows.
The new deal brings an expanded selection of channels and programming to Virgin customers and a commitment to both working closely to promote UKTV channels on the Virgin TV platform. UKTV will provide High Definition (HD) programming to more Virgin TV customers than ever before, with the Dave HD and Gold HD channels added to Virgin Media’s Mix bundle and above.
The agreement will also see more than five times the amount of on-demand programming available on Virgin TV, including more catch-up hours and significantly more box sets for Virgin TV Full House customers. UKTV’s programming on Virgin TV Go will also return so customers can watch programmes out of the home and on the move.
David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media says: “Reaching this agreement reaffirms our longstanding partnership with UKTV and is fantastic news for our customers. They can enjoy channels like Dave and Gold once again, including in HD, and also get more UKTV on-demand programming than ever before. On top of this, the channels we’ve recently added to Virgin TV will remain.
“We are sorry for what we know has been a frustrating time for our customers, but are pleased that our TV bundles are now even bigger. Our unwavering commitment to investing in incredible programming remains.”
Simon Michaelides, Chief Commercial Officer, UKTV, adds: “Viewers are at the heart of UKTV and we want to thank them for all of their support. We know this has created real disruption for some of our viewers and we’re so sorry for this, but we are thrilled to be back, broadcasting our channels and shows to customers of Virgin Media once more. ”
The agreement follows weeks of hard campaigning by UKTV, drumming up support from viewers to place pressure on Virgin to agree a new deal.
“For the past three weeks we’ve read thousands of viewers’ messages and replied to as many as we could,” UKTV said in an official statement announcing the deal this morning. “Overwhelmingly, we heard that viewers wanted UKTV and Virgin Media to agree a deal that would return our channels as quickly as we could. The most important people are the millions of loyal viewers who love our channels and enjoy our shows, and we’re so sorry it’s taken both companies this long, and has caused disruption to so many people. No broadcaster wants to be off air so we’re thrilled to be returning to Virgin Media and would like to thank everyone who has supported us.”
“Thank you also to Virgin Media with whom we’ve agreed to kiss and make-up,” UKTV added.
Virgin Media customers to lose UKTV channels this weekend
21st July 2018
Virgin Media’s customers across the UK will lose all 10 UKTV channels from their TV package this weekend, as a dispute between the two TV firms has failed to be resolved.
UKTV, which is jointly owned by the BBC and Discovery, has amassed an impressive library of channels over the years, from Dave, Gold and Alibi to Yesterday, Really, Home and Drama. Shows such as Taskmaster, Top Gear, Red Dwarf and Call The Midwife are popular hits with their viewers. While Dave continues to invest in a growing volume of original content, including the upcoming Judge Romesh, a large part of UKTV’s library is made up of licensing deals with the BBC for older content. The BBC, however, does not grant UKTV digital rights for those shows, as it sells the on-demand rights to platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. As an increasing number of viewers shift their behaviour in an on-demand age, that gap has grown to become a bone of contention between Virgin and UKTV. Virgin wants to cut the fee it pays for UKTV’s channels, but the price point is too low for the commercial network.
Darren Childs, the chief executive of UKTV, told The Guardian: “We want to continue to provide our channels to Virgin Media, but the huge cut in fees that Virgin has requested doesn’t reflect the value we bring to customers.”
“Part of a commitment to audiences has to be allowing them to watch what they want, when they want and that also means being able to watch those programmes on demand. From US studios to small programme-makers, that is how it is done. The BBC puts UKTV in a very difficult position and we have been unable to come to terms and will replace the channels,” David Bouchier, Virgin Media’s chief digital entertainment officer, added.
“UKTV’s channels account for over a quarter of pay entertainment channel viewing within Virgin Media’s basic subscription pack,” commented Childs. “If our channels are no longer available through Virgin, we will be hugely disappointed for the millions of customers who will lose out.”
As it stands, Drama, Really, Yesterday, Home, Gold, W, Alibi, Dave, Eden and Good Food are set to be removed from Virgin Media on Sunday 23rd July, including +1 and On Demand viewing.
Virgin is offering customers other channels as compensation, including Paramount Network with shows such as Suits and Designated Survivor, YourTV, a new channel home to Castle, Bones and Body of Proof, Love Nature a Virgin exclusive nature channel, IQTV, which contains quiz shows such as Mastermind and The Weakest Link, additional box sets, such as Shades of Blue, Supergirl and Madam Secretary, and the Premier Sports HD channel, which will be made available to all TV customers initially for two months with no additional subscription. Other premium channels, such as Lifetime and True Entertainment (home to Murder, She Wrote, The Persuaders and The New Avengers), will also be made available to more TV customers at no extra cost.
Fans of UKTV programming, though, have taken to social media to complain vocally about the last-minute warnings of the channels being removed – notices of their departure have been carried on-air since yesterday. Many are threatening to cancel their Virgin contract and switch provider, while UKTV has been campaigning hard for as much audience support as possible.
Negotiations between the two are understood to be ongoing.
Where can I catch up with UKTV channels?
Are you a Virgin Media customer looking to catch up with UKTV programmes?
UKTV Play is the network’s free on-demand app and platform, and free access to Dave, Really, Yesterday and Drama. It is available on YouView, Amazon Fire TV, Freeview Play, Roku streaming players and Now TV devices.
Other Pay TV providers
Sky, BT TV and Talk Talk subscribers can access shows on demand from all 10 UKTV channels.
Gold is available as part of NOW TV’s Entertainment Pass, which costs £8.99 a month, no contract.
Gold, W, Alibi, Eden and Good Food are available on-demand without a contract through TVPlayer Plus.