The Freeview and YouView could gain up to 100 new channels following a rejig of the digital TV programme guide.
The new channels will appear on the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) from channel number 300 down to channel 599, following changes proposed by Digital UK.
This could see channels like Discovery and BT Sport on BT YouView and Sky 1 on TalkTalk TV moving further up in the guide.
Interactive services like BBC Red Button could also get moved around as well – BBC Red Button 1 and 2 currently sit at 301 and 302 on the Freeview and YouView EPGs.
Digital UK says that by expanding the number of channels and moving them further up the programme guide will make them more visible to viewers. As the channels will be delivered over the internet instead of over an aerial, you won’t have to retune in order to pick them up. You will however need a broadband connection fast enough to carry the channels.
Internet channel VuTV, which lets you access multiple channels from Freeview channel 238, needs a constant 2Mbps stream to view programmes in standard definition. YouView internet channels like Discovery on BT TV also need 2Mbps to be streamed in SD. High definition channels like BT Sport 1 HD typically require around 4-5Mbps.
Ofcom’s latest report on the state of Broadband Britain suggests that for most people, this won’t be a problem, but viewers living out in the sticks where even 1Mbps is tricky to get could run into problems.
As more of the BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects connect rural and suburban homes to faster speeds and groups like Gigaclear and B4RN expand their networks, this should be less of a problem in the future.
Digital UK hasn’t said when the changes to the Freeview and YouView programme guides will happen or which channels will get bumped up to the top of the section. Channel providers are working with Digital UK now to figure out timing and details of exactly which channels go where and when.
Channel 5 cautioned that any changes now should be done without prejudice to future changes given the likely growth of linear broadcast channels over time due to increased capacity and improvements in compression technology.
A Digital UK spokesperson added that most other channel providers were happy with the changes. The spokesperson said: “There was broad agreement that the expansion was necessary to meet the increasing demand for IP services and that the move to LCN [Logical Channel Number] 300 was likely to offer viewers a better experience and opportunity to access these services.”
Ultimately, it will be up to Freeview, YouView and YouView platforms like BT TV and TalkTalk TV to decide which channels go where.