Sky Sports News to move to pay

12.00 Update – Ofcom Approval: Sky has announced plans to turn the Sky Sports News channel into a pay-TV service, at the same time launching a high definition version of the channel, and pulling out of the Freeview DTT platform.

The channel is being relaunched with what Sky is describing as a “richer and broader coverage of sports news”. Further details are expected in the next few weeks. It will be the fifth channel within the Sky Sports portfolio to broadcast in HD and follows last month’s launch of Sky News HD.

The news channel has again turned to Sky Sports News for input for its own sports bulletins, acting in part as a barker for the soon to be pay channel.

“Sky Sports News has been a great success over the last 12 years and we have big ambitions to make it even better. As part of a subscription service, customers can look forward to expanded coverage and the launch of Europe’s first HD sports news service,” said Barney Francis, managing director, Sky Sports.

The investment comes at a price, from later this year Sky Sports News will be available to Sky, Virgin Media and Talk Talk TV customers, as well as online and on mobile. Sky3+1, a time-shifted version of the existing Freeview channel, Sky3, will replace sky Sports News on Freeview.

Approval for the DTT change was needed from the regulator Ofcom, which told Sky and multiplex licence holder that the move “would not unacceptably diminish the capacity of the services broadcast to appeal to a variety of tastes and interests”.

In a potentially related move, Sky is to close its Real Lives channel, arguably it will be displaced in part by the acquisition of Living from Virgin Media TV.