In a surprising shake-up that left Freesat subscribers reeling, the platform abruptly lost nine channels this week, including popular names like Great! Movies, Great! TV and children’s channel POP.
The Great! channels were previously known as the “Sony Movie Channels”, until they were bought and given new names in 2021.
With their removal, Freesat viewers are left with a very small selection of dedicated movie channels (see the full list of closures below).
For now, the Great! channels are still available on the other TV platforms – including Freeview.
This change not only disrupts the viewing schedules of many but also signals a potentially transformative period for Freesat, challenging its place in the competitive landscape of UK digital broadcasting.
Amidst this change, the introduction of Freely, a new broadband-based service that will launch in a few months, looms on the horizon, promising to redefine the future of television with a blend of traditional and streaming content.
Freesat has been around since 2008, aiming to ensure that the UK’s transition from analogue to digital television did not leave viewers without free access to TV content.
Unlike Freeview, which requires only an aerial, Freesat broadcasts via satellite, making it an ideal solution for areas with poor terrestrial signal quality – but viewers need a satellite dish, and a Freesat receiver box.
In 2021, Freeview and Freesat merged to become one company (now known as Everyone TV), a move intended to consolidate their resources and development.
Over the years, channels have come and gone from Freesat (as they do on Freeview), with one notable mention being the removal of Channel 4 HD and the Channel 4 app from Freesat. Eventually, both have returned.
Now, the sudden disappearance of nine channels from the Freesat lineup raises questions about the platform’s ability to maintain its competitive edge – and may be a sign of things to come, with the upcoming launch of the broadband-based Freely service (see more on that below).
Saying Goodbye To 9 Channels
This week, Freesat viewers suddenly noticed that nine channels have disappeared from Freesat’s platform – without any previous announcements or warnings.
The channels all belong to Narrative Entertainment, the company that bought the ‘Sony Movies’ channels, from Sony, back in 2021 – “Sony Movies”, “Sony Movies Classic”, “Sony Movies Action”, “Sony Channel” and the “Pop” kids TV platform.
According to Narrative, in 2023, Great! Movies was the UK’s biggest independent movie network, reaching 5.5 million Adults 16+ per month.
However, this week’s Freesat removal was so sudden – that the official website for these channels still lists the Freesat channel numbers – which, as of this writing, no longer exist.
The channels removed from Freesat are:
Great! TV: A destination for fans of classic television series and films, offering a mix of timeless classics and nostalgic favourites.
Great! Action: Catering to action enthusiasts, this channel showcased a variety of high-octane movies and series.
Great! Movies: A channel dedicated to movie lovers, featuring a wide range of films from blockbuster hits to critically acclaimed masterpieces.
Great! Romance: Focused on love and emotion, Great! Romance offered a selection of romantic movies and dramas.
Great! TV+1/Great! Romance+1: Time-shifted versions of their namesakes, allowing viewers an additional chance to catch their favourite shows.
POP: A staple in children’s entertainment, POP provided a vibrant mix of animated and live-action series suitable for a younger audience.
Tiny POP: Aimed at preschoolers, this channel offered educational and entertaining content designed to captivate and engage young minds.
POP Max: Targeting older children and young teens, POP Max featured a blend of action and adventure series, both animated and live-action.
Tiny POP was the only channel pre-announced to shut down, on March 20, across all platforms – including Freeview, shifting to a streaming-only model.
However, Tiny Pop was removed from Freesat long before the deadline – and the additional eight channels’ sudden disappearance from Freesat was unexpected and has left viewers searching for answers.
It’s worth noting that all these channels are still available on other platforms, including Freeview – and there’s no indication, at least at this point in time, that they will be removed from other platforms.
Freesat Viewers Are Not Happy
With the Great! channels removed from Freesat, the selection of free movie channels on Freesat looks pretty barren at this point.
As expected, some angry viewers took to social media to complain about the sudden removal.
@greatmoviesuk any chance you can explain why I've lost all the great network channels from my Freesat channel list today. My elderly father pretty much only watched your channels very 😠 at the moment
— alex hedges (@alex_hedges1001) February 7, 2024
As of this writing, there has been no official comment from either Narrative Entertainment or Freesat.
Great! TV has magically disappeared from Freesat?
No Diagnosis Murder or Sue Thomas today… pic.twitter.com/kStnT4dSy4
— David R. Kerry (@ManticorePrime) February 7, 2024
On social media, Freesat’s advice account only said that the channels “have been removed by request of Great TV”.
We reached out to Freesat, and will update this article if they choose to comment further.
Freesat’s Future and the Rise of Freely
As Freesat grapples with the recent loss of nine channels, the upcoming launch of Freely, a broadband-based service set to reshape the Freeview and Freesat landscape, offers a glimpse into the future of television broadcasting in the UK.
Spearheaded by Everyone TV (the same company behind Freesat and Freeview), Freely aims to merge traditional broadcasting with modern streaming capabilities, providing viewers with a more comprehensive range of viewing options.
This innovative platform will support both over-the-air channels and IP-delivered content, ensuring backwards and forward compatibility with existing services while introducing a new unitary EPG system.
Freely represents a significant shift towards a hybrid viewing experience, blending aerial and satellite signals with broadband to offer an enriched array of channels and on-demand services.
Initially only available on next-gen Smart TVs, with plans for set-top box support to follow, Freely signals a transitional period for Freesat as it adapts to evolving viewer preferences and the increasing shift towards digital streaming platforms.
As Everyone TV keeps emphasizing, Freesat and Freeview are not going anywhere – at least not in the next few years – and will “live” alongside Freely.
However, it remains to be seen whether Freesat will remain an enticing option, with its channel list possibly dwindling.
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