22 July 2018
Around four million households are no longer able to watch 10 of the country's best-known TV channels after Virgin Media stopped offering the UKTV portfolio at midnight on Saturday.
The move means that Virgin Media customers miss out on channels including Dave, Alibi, Drama and Gold, as well as favourite shows such as Taskmaster, Judge Romesh, Harrow and Red Dwarf. In addition to the live channels, Virgin Media will no longer provide access to thousands of hours of programmes from UKTV to watch on demand.
The two companies were unable to reach an agreement on a new distribution deal after Virgin Media demanded a huge cut in the fees paid to UKTV. Since the news broke last week hundreds of Virgin Media customers, who faced an increase of up to £48.00 in their annual subscription last November, have taken to social media to express their unhappiness about losing their favourite channels.
Virgin Media have now confirmed that they have replaced UKTV's channels slots with alternative channels, many of which sit lower on the EPG.
Prior to the switch-off, UKTV's channels were some of the most popular on the Virgin Media platform. Alibi and Gold were two of Virgin's top three pay entertainment channels, while Good Food was the top pay lifestyle channel. Overall, UKTV accounts for more than a quarter of all viewing to pay entertainment channels in Virgin's basic pay TV package and its on demand views grew by more than a third in the last year.
Contrary to some reports, UKTV supplied thousands of hours of on demand programming to the platform, including its biggest shows such as Taskmaster and Most Haunted. UKTV also offered to significantly increase the volume; offering thousands of extra catch up hours and hundreds of boxset hours to Virgin Media.
Darren Childs, Chief Executive of UKTV, said,
We're hugely disappointed for the many customers who are losing out because our channels are no longer available through Virgin Media. We completely understand their frustration and would love to continue to bring them the shows and channels that they're so passionate about, but we need a fair price to support our growing investment in programmes. The reality is that we just can't accept the drastic price cut that Virgin wants.
We remain completely committed to our viewers and appreciate the thousands of messages of support that we have received. We will continue to serve our viewers through our many platform partners.
The ten UKTV channels previously on the Virgin Media platform are Alibi, Gold, W, Eden, Good Food, Dave, Yesterday, Drama, Really and Home. If Virgin Media customers want to continue to watch these channels, they are available on other TV platforms including Sky, BT, Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat. Viewers can also catch up on their favourite shows online at UKTV Play.
Why don't you give Virgin your channels for free?
- It is unreasonable to ask UKTV to pay to be part of a product that Virgin Media sells to customers.
- Virgin Media don't offer a TV package to customers without some kind of subscription fee. In effect, they want UKTV to subsidise their business by paying to be part of a product that they sell for a minimum of £29 a month.
- Virgin customers can continue to watch our free channels without subscription on Freeview and Freesat.
1. UKTV is investing more than ever to create high-quality programmes and build strong channel brands
- Record content investment of more than £150 million in the last year
- Premiering exclusive new series in 2018 including Taskmaster, Judge Romesh, Women on the Verge and Emma Willis: Delivering Babies
- Audiences are voting with their remotes: UKTV's share of pay viewing on Virgin Media is up by 8% in last five years
- Growing recognition from industry and commentators for our original series including BAFTA and Emmy nominations and awards
2. Our channels are highly valued by Virgin Media customers
- UKTV accounts for more than 25% of viewing to pay entertainment channels in Virgin's basic pay pack
- Alibi and Gold are two of Virgin's top three pay entertainment channels
- Good Food is the top pay lifestyle channel on the VM platform
- On Demand views to UKTV channels on Virgin Media are up by more than a third in the last year; now offering access to 1000s of hours of content
3. We want a fair price for the value our channels bring to the VM platform
- Virgin's attempt to impose a drastic reduction in fees is not reasonable
- We've offered to work with Virgin to bring more value to their customers: increased box sets, additional rights and addition of Gold HD
- Disappointed that VM is attempting to force down the value of content
- We can't continue with a partner who won't invest with us to bring their customers high-quality programmes. VM can't expect preferential treatment over other partners who do choose invest with us
- UKTV channels and shows continue to be available on Sky, BT, Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat and online at UKTV Play for our free channels.