UKTV’s “W” channel, which is dedicated to lifestyle, reality and entertainment programmes, is going free-to-air, and will become available on Freeview, Freesat and UKTV’s streaming app – starting next week.
Following the switch, viewers will be able to watch, for free, popular programmes such as Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over, MasterChef USA, Inside the Ambulance and many others.
Until now, “W” was only available on pay-TV platforms such as Sky and Virgin Media TV, but BBC-owned UKTV, which operates “W” along with several other channels (such as “Dave” and “Alibi”), announced today that the channel is becoming free-to-air.
“W” will launch on March 28, and will be available on Freeview Channel 25, and Freesat Channel 156 (see full details below on how to get the new channel).
“W” will also be available to stream directly via UKTV’s streaming app, UKTV Play, which is available on most streaming devices sold in the UK (including Roku and Amazon Fire TV), as well as on Freeview Play devices such as the Manhattan T3-R.
The free-to-air versions of “W” will only be available in SD, unfortunately, with the HD versions of “W” remaining as premium channels on Sky and Virgin Media TV.
There’s good news on the accessibility front, however, with 100% of “W’s” programming via Freeview and UKTV Play including subtitles/close captioning.
What’s On The “W” Channel?
The “W” (known as “Watch” at some point) has been around since 2008, when it replaced UKTV Style +2.
The channel is operated by UKTV, which is a part of BBC Studios. UKTV runs several channels, some of which available on free-to-air platforms, and some only on premium pay-TV platforms: Dave, Gold, Drama, Alibi, Eden, Yesterday and “W”.
Over the years, “W” focused on reality and lifestyle programmes and documentaries. It is also the exclusive UK home of the MasterChef franchise, including MasterChef Australia, MasterChef USA and MasterChef Juniors.
Following the switch to free-to-air, “W” viewers will get access to UKTV Originals for free, including brand new upcoming shows Alex Jones: Making Babies, Rochelle Humes: Interior Designer in the Making, Nurses on the Ward and Dating With My Mates, alongside new series of returning favourites.
In the first month after the switch, viewers will also be able to watch brand new episodes of Inside the Ambulance, Stacey Dooley Sleeps Over Series 3 and Nurses on the Ward Series 1, as well as the chance to watch the first two series of Emma Willis Delivering Babies, Emma Willis & AJ Odudu Get to Work Series 1 and Women on the Force for the first time on Freeview and UKTV Play.
Steve North, UKTV’s genre general manager for comedy and entertainment, said:
“We are confident that we’ve spotted a gap in the free-to-air market for W to fill; providing premium entertainment for people with busy lives who want to engage with shows that shine a spotlight on personal stories from everyday lives.
“W’s launch on UKTV’s direct-to-consumer VOD service, UKTV Play, will also mean that shows are more accessible than ever.”
How To Watch The “W” Channel
On Freeview, “W” will be replacing “Dave ja vu” on Channel 25 (which recently moved from Channel 23, to make room for BBC Three).
Once the channel launches, on March 28, many Freeview devices would require a retune for the channel details to show up correctly (here’s the full list of Freeview channel changes taking place on that day).
Some Freeview devices automatically retune, but others may require a manual retune. You can find more information on how to retune your device on Freeview’s retuning help section.
Unlike Freeview devices, most Freesat viewers won’t need to manually do anything, and the channel numbers and names will change automatically. If they don’t, Freesat advises doing a Freesat Channel Scan.
And if you wish to watch “W” via streaming, it will be added to the UKTV Play streaming app on March 28.