Sky has announced a significant addition to free-to-air television today, by introducing Sky Mix, a new channel bringing a taste of premium entertainment to Freeview audiences.
Sky confirmed to us today that the new channel is scheduled to go live on October 18, on Freeview Channel 11.
While the channel is basically a rebrand of the existing Sky Pick channel, it aims to offer a broader range of content than its predecessor, showcasing Sky originals, films, and an array of premium programming – all without a subscription.
For the time being, there’s no mention of whether Sky Mix will end up on Freesat at some point. And, just like Sky Pick, Sky Mix is not expected to be an HD channel on Freeview (though an HD version may end up on Sky in the future).
With Sky Pick set to occupy Freeview Channel 11, it will be replacing Sky Arts in the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG).
However, Sky Arts enthusiasts need not worry as it will find a new home on Freeview Channel 36 (which previously belonged to Sky Pick).
The introduction of Sky Mix is a significant move as it marks Sky’s first venture into free-to-air broadcasting since the launch of the Sky Arts free channel in 2020.
Sky Mix isn’t an entirely new creation but a rebranding of the existing Pick channel. This rebranding is aimed at presenting a broader spectrum of content to the viewers, an upgrade from what Pick previously offered.
At its core, Sky Mix is envisaged as a hub for a diverse range of programming – or, in other words, something that will give viewers “a taste” of Sky’s content, and hopefully (for Sky) entice them to subscribe.
The channel will have themed weeknight schedules, with viewers being treated to dedicated days for drama, comedy, and true crime, among others.
Some of the Sky Originals that are due to make their Series 1 Freeview debuts in 2023 are Cobra, Rob & Romesh Vs, A Discovery of Witches and A League of Their Own: Road Trip.
The channel will also feature original factual specials, such as Liverpool Narcos and Shark with Steve Backshall.
Moreover, Sky Mix will include acquired titles from Sky Atlantic and Sky Witness, including early seasons of popular shows like HBO’s True Detective and The Equalizer.
However, viewers should not expect brand-new seasons of shows, as most of the content will be a few years old (at the very least).
In some cases, Sky Mix aims to reacquaint audiences with shows from yesteryears, like the first season of True Detective ahead of its fourth season, which is slated to air on Sky Atlantic next year.
In addition to TV shows, Sky Mix will be the only place to find Sky Original films on Freeview, with classic titles like SAS: Red Notice among those making their Freeview premiere along with other favourites from the extensive Sky Cinema library.
And, with Sky Arts moving further down the line on the Freeview channels list, it may lose some prominence – but Sky Mix plans to simulcast new Sky Arts commissions as they air.
This will ensure that Sky Arts retains its visibility and relevance despite the channel shift.
Pick, the channel that Sky Mix is replacing, was initially launched as Sky Three in 2005. Over the years, it underwent several rebrands and content shifts.
In recent years, Sky has increased its focus on the channel, airing Sky Showcase and Sky Witness programmes a few years after their original broadcasts.
A peek into Pick’s current schedule reveals a range of drama and factual titles, with most of the titles being quite old – Merlin, Star Trek: Voyager, Magnum P.I. and lots and lots of Highway Cops and Highway Partrol.
With Sky Mix, there’s the anticipation of a refreshed lineup that leans towards more recent titles (up to a point) and acquisitions from Sky’s repertoire – but we expect many of the older shows from Pick to remain on Mix as well.
Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content, Sky UK and Ireland, said: “Sky Mix is the perfect free-to-air home for us to showcase some of our favourite Sky shows that have already been a hit with our customers on Sky and NOW platforms.”