Sky shuts Bravo after 25 years

Bravo, a familiar part of the UK multichannel landscape since 1985, is to close. BSkyB, which acquired the channel as part of its acquisition of Virgin Media Television (renamed as the Living TV Group) will also shut Channel One.

Living TV Group has 110 employees, after integration there will be 58 content posts available, the remainder are likely to find employment elsewhere within the broadcaster.

Sky will now concentrate its efforts on Living, the popular female skewing channel, and its gameshow stablemate Challenge TV. Both channels will benefit from an increase in their budgets.

Sophie Turner Laing, Sky’s managing director of entertainment, news, and broadcast operations said Sky remained committed to offering its customers the best in pay-TV content. “Living is already one of the best pay-TV channels around and is obviously a great fit with our existing channels like Sky1. There is so much potential for further development and we intend to increase on-screen investment in Living by around a quarter as part of our expanded channel portfolio. This is a big part of our plans to bring customers great content from channel brands that really cut through.”

The closures free up a number of key channel slots. Channel One is on the second page of the Sky EPG at 121 and also has a position on the Freeview DTT platform. Its time-shifted version is at 122 followed by Bravo and Bravo +1 at 123 and 124 respectively. Challenge TV has won the Freeview prize, while an announcement on what will happen to the Sky EPG slots will be made before the end of the year.

Living has used a mix of US hits (Cougar Town, Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Criminal Minds and Medium) and UK-originated content (Four Weddings, Dating in the Dark and Britain’s Next Top Model) to become the most popular pay-basic channel after Sky One.

Bravo, which has somersaulted through a variety of formats in its 25 years on-air, is perceived to be too close to the entertainment channel. Recent hit Spartacus: Blood and Sand being a far cry from the days of Torchie the Battery Boy reruns.

Its launch in 1985 was as a cable only channel under the wing of United Artists Programming. It joined the Astra satellite in 1993 as part of the Sky Multichannels pay-basic package.

Channel One began life as FTN in January 2003, a showcase for content from the Flextech Television portfolio; it changed its name to Virgin 1 in October 2007 following the merger of the Telewest and NTL cable groups into Virgin Media. After the purchase of Virgin Media Television by Sky it was renamed Channel One and given a distinctly temporary looking logo.