UKTV’s Big Revamp Coming Next Month: Meet The New ‘U’

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UKTV, the British broadcaster behind popular free-to-air channels like Dave and Yesterday, has announced that its platform will officially rebrand as ‘U’, on July 16, 2024.

The change will see UKTV’s current channel brands – which are available on Freeview and the pay-TV platforms – get new names, such as Dave becoming U&Dave, Drama becoming U&Drama, and the UKTV Play streaming service becoming, simply… U (yes, they even have the u.co.uk domain).

Along with the new branding, UKTV announced several new and returning shows, which will arrive this summer (see more details below).

UKTV: The Road So Far

UKTV began in the early 1990s as a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Thames Television. It leveraged the extensive BBC archive to bring classic programming to a wider audience.

UKTV logo

The broadcaster’s free-to-air channels, including Dave (known for its witty and contemporary entertainment), Drama (focusing on classic and modern dramatic series), Yesterday (specializing in history and factual programming), and W (offering a mix of entertainment programming), have become staples in British households.

UKTV also operates premium channels, such as Gold (a destination for classic British comedy), Alibi (dedicated to crime drama), and Eden (focused on nature and science documentaries), which are exclusively available on pay-TV platforms such as Sky.

The Age Of Streaming: UKTV Play

With more and more viewers moving to streaming, UKTV launched UKTV Play in 2014, marking its foray into the on-demand streaming service market.

Initially planned as a catch-up platform, UKTV Play allowed viewers to watch shows from UKTV’s channels post-broadcast.

UKTV Play logo

Gradually, it expanded its library, offering an extensive range of content from UKTV’s various channels, along with exclusive series and box sets.

UKTV Play is available on most of the streaming devices sold in the UK, as well as on Freeview Play streamers and Smart TVs.

Goodbye, UKTV Play – Hello… U

As we previously reported, late last year UKTV decided to rebrand its whole portfolio – and we now know the official date this will happen – July 16, 2024.

According to UKTV’s Chief Marketing Officer, Penny Brough, this move aims to address the previously disjointed nature of their offerings, ensuring a more integrated viewer experience.

As part of this rebranding, UKTV’s family of free-to-air channels will undergo name changes to align with the new ‘U’ brand. The channels will incorporate the ‘U’ prefix, transforming into:

  • U&Dave
  • U&Drama
  • U&Yesterday
  • U&W

The streaming service, UKTV Play, will change its name to just ‘U’.

According to Brough, “The launch of U is an important step for UKTV, defining our age of transformation.

“U will present our viewers with an extraordinary range of free quality content, allowing them to connect the dots between the streaming service and our family of TV channels.”

The ‘U’ streaming service will offer nearly 8,500 hours of content at the time of the rebrand, an increase of almost 1,500 hours from the start of the year.

Viewers can expect a mix of new programming, exclusive shows, award-winning originals, and premiere acquisitions.

New and Upcoming Content

Alongside viewer favourites, the launch of ‘U’ will bring an array of new and exciting content. Some highlights include:

Battle in the Box: A brand new original comedy reality gameshow hosted by Jimmy Carr, where pairs of comics and celebrities compete for prizes.

Battle in the Box jimmy carr
Battle in the Box (Photo: UKTV)

The second series of Whitstable Pearl, a crime drama following the adventures of Pearl Nolan, a private detective who runs a seafood restaurant in Whitstable.

-The UK premiere of Orlando Bloom: To the Edge, which follows the actor as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery through extreme sports.

The highly anticipated second series of The Marlow Murder Club, set to launch in early 2025.

A reimagining of the classic series Bergerac, coming to ‘U’ and U&Drama in 2025.

FAST Channels Also Rebranding

Last year, UKTV launched four channels on Samsung TV Plus, Amazon Freevee, and Pluto TV, making its debut in the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) market.

UKTV Play FAST channels

These channels also became available on Virgin Media earlier this year.

As part of the new “master brand”, UKTV’s FAST channels will undergo a rebranding to align with the ‘U’ identity:

  • UKTV Play Heroes will become U&Real Heroes
  • UKTV Play Laughs will move to U&Laughs
  • UKTV Play Full Throttle will transition to U&Transport
  • UKTV Play Uncovered will be known as U&The Past

These rebranded FAST channels will continue to offer viewers niche content in areas such as adventure, comedy, automotive programming, and historical documentaries, all under the unified ‘U’ banner.

The New U

While the rebranding to ‘U’ suggests a possible new direction for UKTV and its channels, some might argue that it’s primarily a name change, at least for now.

The content offerings, though expanded, remain largely in line with UKTV’s current programming.

Which is fine, as UKTV has many fans – but then, why the change? The transition from UKTV Play to simply ‘U’ might raise some eyebrows among regular viewers.

To complicate matters further, the broadcaster’s name will remain UKTV. So, UKTV will operate U and the linear channels.

Will the new branding make it easier for audiences to navigate the broadcaster’s offerings, or will it add an unnecessary layer of confusion?

Remember when NOW TV changed its name to NOW? Our readers are still calling it NOW TV, more than three years later.

And then there’s the All4 streaming service, which changed its name to simply Channel 4, bringing with it some confusion as well.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that UKTV’s premium channels – Gold, Eden and Alibi – will not be changing their branding at this point. 

Alibi channel UKTV

Furthermore, there are no plans to make them more widely available (via a direct subscription that doesn’t go through Sky, for example) – at least at this point in time.

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3 thoughts on “UKTV’s Big Revamp Coming Next Month: Meet The New ‘U’”

  1. What a dumb pointless change!

    “According to UKTV’s Chief Marketing Officer, Penny Brough, this move aims to address the previously disjointed nature of their offerings, ensuring a more integrated viewer experience.”

    And some total BS to try and justify it.

    Reply
  2. Yet another company changing its name to something that is impossible to search for (ever tried searching for information on EE?).
    Also, I thought they would have learned from the amount of money Musk wasted to shorten the name of “Twitter” to “X – the app formally known as Twitter”. At least we know only 24 more companies can go down the “my name is a letter” route.

    Reply
  3. Why don’t they go the whole hog and just use an emoji? I’m old and shall be sticking to UKTV, All4, NowTV and, of course, Twitter. Do all media marketing people go on a course on how to be obscure?

    Reply

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