BBC Three’s Launch Date Announced, Will Air Live Football

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BBC Three, the youth-oriented channel that’s coming back from streaming-only to an over-the-air linear channel, has an official launch date: February 1, 2022

Along with the date announcement, the BBC also announced the rebooted channel will air live football on its opening week with the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

This comes in addition to previously announced BBC Three content, such as RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK Versus The World and Series 2 of the critically-acclaimed international hit romcom Starstruck.

RuPaul's drag race UK

BBC Three started its life as a linear TV channel back in 2003. In 2016, it turned into a streaming-only channel, and on February 1 – following Ofcom’s approval – it’s returning to linear TV. 

The channel will broadcast daily from 7 pm and will be available on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin.

It will also remain available for streaming via BBC iPlayer, where you will be able to watch its content live, or on-demand.

BBC Three logo

The channel will be targeting viewers aged 16-34 who – according to the BBC, at least – don’t typically watch TV online.

The channel’s EPG numbers will be confirmed at a later date, but the BBC proposed for it to be on Freeview Channel 23, Sky Channel 15, and Virgin Media Channel 8 – though, again, these numbers are not yet final.

Either way, this means that once the channel returns, other channel numbers will have to be moved around, in a similar way to the big Freeview shuffle we experienced in 2020, and a retune will be required on Freeview devices (while platforms can usually make these changes automatically).

However, the TV platforms will have 18 months to accommodate the changes – so Channel Three might start with one EPG position when it launches, and then move to its “final” one at a later date.

Live Football On BBC Three

During its launch week, BBC Three will be airing live football, with both semi-finals and the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) live.

The tournament features 24 National teams based in Africa, and is hosted in Cameroon this year.

Mohamed Sallah
Mo Sallah (Photo: Deposit Photos / Cosminlftode)

The three matches all kick off at 7 pm, and coverage will be fronted by Jermaine Jenas. Audiences can tune in to watch full games live from kick-off when the channel begins broadcasting.

However, since the build-up will start at 6:30 pm, audiences can choose to watch live from that time on the BBC Three page on iPlayer.

More launch-week content will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fiona Campbell, Controller of BBC Three, said:

“We know how popular sport is with younger audiences and it’s going to have a big part to play on BBC Three.

AFCON is set to be an incredibly exciting tournament with some of the best players in the World on show and its brilliant news that we will be showing the climax of the competition on free to air television.”

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