The Smithsonian Channel Is Leaving Freeview And Freesat

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The free-to-air Smithsonian Channel, which has been available in the UK since 2019, is shutting down as a linear channel, and will be removed from Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media.

The channel is dedicated to factual programming, covering space, history, science, nature and wildlife, and is currently free to watch (depending on the TV platform you use).

Some of the Smithsonian Channel’s programmes are already available on Paramount+ in the UK, which is a paid streaming service, while some shows are also available on Channel 5’s streaming app – My5, which is owned by the same company – Paramount (see more on that below).

Furthermore, Paramount told us of plans to open a new free version of the Smithsonian Channel, on the streaming-only Pluto TV platform, which is also owned by Paramount – but the new, ad-supported channel will only come sometime in the future.

Pluto TV on a TV
Photo: Deposit Photos / Kasasagiproductions

The Smithsonian Channel launched on Freeview in the UK back on February 2019, and we can now confirm it will be removed from all UK TV platforms on January 5, 2023.

Meanwhile, this week, there were several other Freeview updates, with new additions and channel closures – see below for the full list of changes.

As always, those with a Freeview device may need to retune their box/TV for the electronic programmes guide to update.

The End Of The Free Linear Smithsonian Channel

The Smithsonian Channel is based on a US channel by the same name, with some of the content coming from the US, and some of it being produced in the UK.

Some of the programmes featured on the channel (until its closure) are the popular Inside the Factory series (which comes from the BBC), which looks behind the curtains of big UK factories, along with shows like How Did They Build That?, WWII Battles in Color, Air Warriors, Ocean Super Predators and more.

air warriors the smithsonian channel
Photo: Paramount

The Smithsonian Channel is currently available on:

The channel’s last day on the air will be January 5, 2023.

However, many of the channel’s programmes will live on via Paramount+, the streaming service that launched in the UK back in June, and on My5.

The Smithsonian Channel on Paramount Plus

Paramount+ is a global streaming service that also offers content from CBS, Showtime and Paramount Pictures, as well as exclusive, original programmes.

Paramount+ costs £6.99/month or £69.90/year in the UK, with a free 7-day trial available to everyone (See Our Full Paramount+ UK Review).

Since its launch in the UK, Paramount+ has had a dedicated Smithsonian Channel section, where many of the channel’s programmes are available to watch – but only with a subscription, of course.

In the future, Paramount is planning to add a free, ad-supported Smithsonian channel to its Pluto TV platform, which is available via an app on streaming devices.

Paramount’s Response

A Paramount spokesperson (Paramount owns The Smithsonian Channel, Paramount+ and Channel 5) told us:

“From 5th January 2023, the Smithsonian Channel in the UK will move exclusively to Paramount’s popular streaming services, to reflect the way viewers consume our specialist programming and ensure its content is available to the widest possible audience.

“Smithsonian Channel programming will continue to have a strong presence on Paramount+ and My5, and we plan to launch a new branded channel on the leading free streaming service, Pluto TV, in the near future.”

More Freeview Changes

Several other changes and channel updates took place on Freeview this week (starting from December 14).

New Freeview Play 2022 mockup

New Freeview Channels

Three channels were added to Freeview’s connected platform this week.

Some Freeview channels, like Channel Box, Ketchup TV and more, are Freeview IP channels – meaning they can only be delivered via broadband, and do not reach your house via the aerial.

To watch these streaming Freeview channels, you need a modern Freeview device that supports the HbbTV standard – most modern Smart TVs with Freeview Play, and Freeview Play set-top boxes (like the Manhattan T3-RHumax Aura and others) already support this standard.

Manhattan T3 Freeview Play box
Manhattan T3-R Freeview Play Box

Once your device is connected to the internet, you will be able to reach these IP-only Freeview channels like a normal channel through the TV Guide.

The three new broadband-connected Freeview channels, which are all dedicated to religious programming, are:

  • Revelation TV, on Freeview Channel Number 281
  • God TV, on Freeview Channel Number 282
  • 3ABN, on Freeview Channel Number 283

Freeview Channels Moving

Two Freeview channels are trading places, but only in Scotland:

BBC Four HD is moving from Channel Number 106 to Channel Number 108.

BBC Scotland HD is moving from Channel Number 108 to Channel Number 106.

Freeview Channel Closures

Celebration TV, which was only added to Freeview Channel 275 in August, is leaving Freeview.

Celebration TV Logo
Celebration TV

And Quest Red+1, which was officially shut down back in November, has now been completely removed from some platforms where it was still visible.

Retune Your Freeview Device

Whenever Freeview changes take place, some people need to retune their Freeview devices – otherwise, channel numbers and names won’t be correct, and new channels won’t show up.

Some devices do a retune automatically, but others might require a manual retune.

You can find more information on how to retune your device, on Freeview’s retuning help section.

For more Freeview and TV updates, be sure to Subscribe to our free newsletter.

22 thoughts on “The Smithsonian Channel Is Leaving Freeview And Freesat”

  1. Yet again I am a victim of the metro elite assuming that we all have access to broadband that will support streaming services. I inherited a smart TV which is unusable. Why are the either the poor who cannot afford subscription TV or those that cannot receive streaming services denied access to something that might challenge their intellect.

  2. I’m really upset about losing Smithsonian from freeview. I always watch BBC news at ten & nothing before unless exceptional then check a few others & Smithsonian & PBS. Always interested in factual historical stuff which Smithsonian & PBS excel in. Yes they are American which can put a lot of UK viewers off but generally its good accurate stuff. Lets face it programs like War in the Pacific are real eye openers. Taught absolutely nothing about it at school & an American told me that the only thing most Americans know is Pearl Harbour, The A-bombs & VJ day. The beeb still has some good stuff but I don’t want to pay subscription when I only watch a couple of hours including news at night.

    • AT here and first attempt at answeering i hsd to trawl through the whole site again, here you arem welll, i`m now 71 in the uk.. been following it since mum afforded one mid 50`s i guess..grew up with dr who which we are now told is hasnded to disney plus…i`m sfraid the bbc lost all credibilty long ago but its insistence in hiring so many mixed race hosts and its biassed..not to upset anyone, its not full fact..our newer news channel gbnews DOES invote opposite sides zand they do srgue..but..i need facts…….i`m now watching more al jazeera..which is world news..not sure uk news is even covering israel at the mo,,,, serious newsa is getting to us other than the soapy hsrry and meghan opera..our wimen in the uk cant get enough…brainwashed..but need truth but now..i early retired 2000..still in a band then..2014 illness death fibished oh dear.. freeview schedules shifting vintage tv from 60`s yes but smithsonian lately YES..WE ARE expected tomove to streaming 10-20 years..they say……bbc already said 10 but they srent in contro.// world powers is no longer indepenmdant..pur leaders being told what to do..but as i`m ill..i keep up..but thoroughly dis illusioned.. gave up politics in the 70` mop lost, now hesw a lord..yes old boys club.. stay healthy..

  3. Smithsonian along with PBS America are two of the finest TV channels available; very interesting and educational. The withdrawal of Smithsonian from its current location on our screens is a tragedy. Most of the other channels (with a few exceptions) are filled with mindless puerile rubbish. Oh dear !!

  4. Crap, crap, crap – that’s the majority of the programming on TV these days. PBS and Smithsonian were two of the very few channels we would check out as a matter of course to see what was on – but making sure to avoid that moron Greg Wallace. Why do they all have to try to be comedians?

    Not going to pay for them.

    I’m increasingly watching YouTube for documentaries which are not shown on the main channels.

    Try to avoid channels that have Susan Calman and Jane McDonald –

    It will be only a matter of time before BBC2 and BBC4 disappear – the LCDs will then have won!!!!

  5. This gets worse. Thanks to ITV messing about many TV sets cannot now receive ITVX formerly ITV hub . This is apparently attributable to having an older set. Mine is 3 years old!!

  6. For what it’s worth, the channel is still live (currently) on the Astra 2G spectrum and could be manually tuned on your device using the details below in order to continue watching it. Not sure for how long this will be the case but better than nothing I guess!

    Frequency: 11509
    Polarisation: Vertical
    Symbol Rate: 23000

    Frequency: 11464
    Polarisation: Horizontal
    Symbol Rate: 22000

  7. I am getting rather fed up with tv channels moving from freesat (what I have) and freeview (what my mum has) and on to substiption sites. Neither of us are in any way able to afford to pay subscriptions and both of us depend on standard, linear, broadcasts. The move to subscription started when sky (and later BT) summarily took over the vast majority of sport. sky started with ONE sport channel and now they have 13!!

    WHY is nobody in aurhority stopping this?

    The “widest possible audience”? That is just bull. It is actively discriminating against those who are by far not so ‘well off’!

    • Hi Angharad, i`ve been following this progress since the bbc sold its commercial srm way backl the plan IS to force everyone in uk to stream i watch more thats 60`s realising the pop videos are american but brit groups.. i`m a rerrtired tv engineer..sropped out ill 2000 before flat screen lcd tvs came out..NOW…I`M disgusted at the quality of lcd systems, of course all computerised..i dropped out at the right time but this wsas planned long as we knew is alresdy gone though we still pay for it…I`M not paying but NOW they tell us oled is the future..we are sold out..i noticed last retune nany signals have dropped in strength, maybe to push us off…so yes, this is planned and the u.s. is involved…blame bbc.. they know we are powerless…my gb went in i early retired..ust at the right time BUT IS everyone on line….i see new dishes installed recently..not everyine is om freeview..its not making sense to me..good luck

  8. Paramount Plus as mentioned before have been getting so much better in the UK with their content, 100% credit to them for that and truly grateful!!

    However I do wish they would sort out their service as it’s constantly getting errors on firestick, various error codes which I’ve done all what is asked to do per error code or loads of times it will just say “Technical Difficulties” with no code whatsoever, it’s getting very tedious.

    Also you’re allowed to have so many streams per household but every time my mum puts her on, if I’m watching something it will say “too many streams” when the next episode plays and I have to go back and restart it. They admitted it shouldn’t be doing this and I did loads of stuff they kindly asked (which I was pretty sure wasn’t related to it) but it never fixed it and they then asked me to change my password and they were going to refresh my account (no idea whether they did or not as I heard nothing back since).

    It’s just tedious cause they eventually leave it unfixed and the emails you get are just repeating the same things you’ve already done. I do feel this should change where companies have to provide a certain level of help to customers as this happens more times than not and is becoming more common where companies you are paying money to are making it harder to help and speak with customers directly when needed.

    There’s no way they’ll give refunds due to loss of service, they won’t even offer and if you mention it after months of issues they purposely ignore lol

    I know Paramount Plus had a very poor start when launched in the UK but they have got so much better and quite quickly too which is great, I just wish they’d improve on the customer service side of things that’s all and fix errors, rather than leaving them happening for months on end with no fix whatsoever (so it seems).

    Thanks again Or for everything you do here, it’s always nice to come here for the latest news etc.. and you do a wonderful job!! 🙏🏼😊

  9. I like watch the programmes on Smithsonian Channel on freeview not everyone can afford pay Channels or subscribe to Channels. Yet another great Channel is shutting down on freeview such a shame 😞

  10. “ensure its content is available to the widest possible audience.”

    Such is the marketing specious doubletalk when in reality it will be “the widest possible subscription paying audience.”

      • PlutoTV is via subscription (I believe) and, as with Freeview, Paramount are making no guarantees how long the Smithsonian Channel (ad-supported), will remain on minority My5.

        Paramounts’ claim that they want to “Ensure its content is available to the widest possible audience”, is whitewash wishful thinking — “lying by omission or twisting”.

        Their desire is purely to increase and widen their subscription-only offering to appeal to new subscribers, not satisfy their resident audience already watching on Freeview (which has been successful).

        Clearly, they are not an in-house profit audience which the Board and accountants care much more for. To avoid criticism, they’ve left behind the My5 ‘freebie’ — but for how long? A year? Six months?

        • Pluto TV is a free to watch (with ads) app.

          The difference between it and My5 is Pluto’s channels act like a linear channel (with a schedule and no pausing and resuming later).

      • Pluto and My5 can provide targeted ads (based on what you watch and potentially what you browse online).

        They’ll also know exactly how many people are watching a program and for what length (whole show or tapped out after 5 mins).

        Terrestrial TV can’t do that to the same extent.


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