Why can’t I get Challenge, Dave, Pick TV, Quest, Really, TalkSport, Viva, Yesterday or 4Music on Freesat if they’re on Freeview?
Freesat has lots more channels than Freeview, but some of the most popular channels Freeview channels are not on Freesat, and satellite TV viewers can only see them by subscribing to Sky.
These include Challenge, Dave, Pick TV, Quest, Really, TalkSport, Viva, Yesterday and 4Music - and Dave is now one of the most popular channels on British TV.
The villain of the tale - if you’re a Freesat viewer - is Sky, which has long-standing subscription agreements with the TV channels that cover satellite broadcasting, but not Freeview. As long as they’re in place, these channels can’t appear on Freesat.
How can Sky stop channels appearing on different TV services?
TV is a business, and Sky has contracts which pre-date the launch of Freesat in 2008, and Pick TV is nothing more than a showcase of old Sky shows to tempt Freeview folk into taking a full Sky subscription (it even used to be called Sky 3).
The broadcasters who own these channels - UKTV, Discovery and Channel 4 among them - all get a slice of Sky subscription income as well as advertising revenue, so they’re not likely to give that up in a hurry.
Aren’t Freesat and Freeview the same thing?
No. They have shareholders in common, like the BBC and ITV, but they’re very different.
Freeview is just a marketing organisation for digital terrestrial TV in the UK: it owns the Freeview brand but it doesn’t have the final say in which channels are on Freeview, or where they live in the programme guide.
In fact, Sky is one of the founding partners in Freeview, from 2001, so it has some say in the running of its biggest rival in British TV.
Freesat is a much more tightly-run organisation, run by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. It controls the programme guide and the technical specification of Freesat boxes, as well as owning its branding.
Will Dave and the other channels ever join Freesat?
It’s all down to the money.
Today, Sky has more than 10 million customers; Freesat has sold over 2.6 million receivers. If these channels decide to leave Sky, they would lose their subscription income, and the extra advertising income from Freesat viewers probably won’t cover the difference.
If Freesat can find, say, five million homes willing to drop Sky, then maybe these channels will see a brighter future on free TV.