Published: August 9, 2010 10.08 Europe/London

The number of new channels launching on the Sky Digital platform has fallen by 70% over the last 12 months. Just 24 new entrants made it to air in the 12 months to August 1, compared to 72 in 2009 and 71 in 2008.

Over the last three years over 164 new satellite channels have launched in the UK, while another 227 channels have ceased trading.

The figures contained in a report compiled by Information TV show that the closure of Sky’s EPG queue to all but high definition and 3D channels. Arguably this pressure on place has reduced the number of channel failures, just 2% of channels (26) have closed over the last 18 months compared to a massive 17% (177 channels) in 2008/09. More than half of the new channels were HD simulcasts of existing channels from major broadcasters, such as Five, ITV and Hallmark and just four in ten could be classed as genuine independents.

Information TV, which includes channel incubation as part of its channel management services, suggests the microchannel approach where niche broadcasters share a time-sliced channel can offer compelling content. It runs two such channels, Showcase TV and Showcase 2.

According to Tony Blin-Stoyle, commercial director, Information TV, it has never been more difficult to launch a 24/7 TV channel in the UK: “In tough times, the best way to create new TV broadcast models is to invest in and test new concepts. Unless new, exciting and well-targeted, broadcast TV formats continue to be developed, we’ll see more failures in the future – particularly if they try to rely solely on advertising to prop up their business models.”

Lifestyle and Culture have provided the most troublesome formats with an 18% closure rate over the past three years. News channels, often supported by larger broadcasters or benevolent owners have seen no closures at all.