Sky confirms major EPG shake-up
Published: 10.28 UTC, January 18, 2011 by Julian Clover

BSkyB has given details of a major reorganisation of its electronic programme guide (EPG) that will result in some 40 HD channels moving up the Sky Guide. As part of the biggest reshuffle in EPG places for over a decade MTV, Comedy Central, Universal, Syfy and FX will move to more prominent places within the guide.

As revealed by Broadband TV News in December from February 1, 2011 the satcaster will run both its “Standard Bouquet” and a new “HD Swap Bouquet”. It means that on HD receivers channels with an HD simulcast that has been allocated a number further down the guide will be placed at the number held by the SD counterpart.

For example Sky 1 is currently listed at channel number 106 while Sky 1 HD can be found much lower down at 170. However, in the HD Swap Bouquet, Sky1 HD will be listed at channel number 106 and Sky1 will be listed at channel number 170.

“We want our customers to be able to discover and enjoy the content they are most passionate about. That’s why we’ve worked with a range of partner channels to ensure that customers can find their favourite pay TV channels and programming as easily as possible,” said Rob Webster, Sky’s Commercial Director. With high definition viewing now demanded as standard, this has also meant swapping HD channels into the EPG numbers that our customers know best.

MTV, Comedy Central, Universal, Syfy and FX will all move to higher profile slots. MTV finally loses pretentions of being a music channel by being reclassified as a general entertainment channel and moving from channel 350 to 126. However, MTV Networks is at the same time launching a new sub brand MTV Music, which will take the old 350 slot that leads the Music section within the Sky EPG, though MTV Shows will close. Sister channel Comedy Central moves from 126 to 112, while Universal’s SyFy and Universal Channel (the former Hallmark) move to 114 and 113 respectively. Fox Networks’ FX jumps from 164 to 124.

“These EPG moves are a great coup for MTV Networks UK. Not only do they reinforce the strength of the MTV Network brands in the UK in helping increase value for Sky customers, they also demonstrate the value of the brands in helping differentiate pay TV,” said David Lynn, executive vice president, managing director, MTVN UK & Ireland and Australia said. With our channels higher placed on the EPG, viewers will have an easier and better content discovery experience.”

The moves have in part been made possible by the purchase of the former Virgin Media Television channels by Sky, which have brought key areas of the EPG directly under Sky control. For example Living TV brought with it a block of three channels at 112. The closure of Bravo also freed up space in the early 120s.

This means that by moving some of its established channels, Sky 1, 2 and 3 from the area around 106, Sky has been able to find space for both the new Sky Atlantic and Living, allowing third party channels the more prominent positions they will soon enjoy.