Virgin Media somehow manages to make TV platform a bit worse

The relationship between Virgin Media and UKTV came to an end this weekend, though mixed messages are flying all over the place as the PR machines crank into full flow.

UKTV’s programming on the Virgin Media TV platform officially came to a close on Saturday night (21 July) as the pair were not able to come to a commercial agreement which satisfied both parties. Virgin Media is pointing the finger at UKTV, stating it offered a fair price, while UKTV has contradicted this point stating the offer on the table was substantially less than previous deals. You have to take each side of the argument with a pinch of salt, but we think we have gotten to the bottom of it.

When negotiating with content platforms such as Virgin Media, UKTV offers all of its channels in a bundle. There isn’t option to pick and choose, though this seems a perfectly acceptable situation in other relationships such as with Sky. Included in the UKTV portfolio are a number of free channels which the customer can access online, or through Freeview. This is where the issue lies. Virgin Media wanted to get the free channels and not bother with the premium ones.

Despite the fact the channels are popular with subscribers, viewing figures have increased over the last 12 months on UKTV’s premium content, Virgin Media wanted to degrade the content experience on its TV platform, while maintaining prices. UKTV is cranking the PR machine with statements which claim it is not fair for the consumer, but you have to feel some sympathy for UKTV; that’s not the way it makes money. It is not a charity or an NPO, why should it sacrifice its own profits for Virgin Media’s greed?

Interestingly enough, despite the fact Virgin Media claims the new deal would “result in a net zero impact” for UKTV, we were told simply having the free-channels on the platform would actually cost the company as it would have to pay for Electronic Program Guide (EPG) positioning.

Unfortunately for the Virgin Media subscribers, they are the real losers here. Some might comment the Virgin Media TV platform is sub-standard in any case, though removing channels such as Dave and Alibi is hardly going to help the situation.

In terms of the feedback, UKTV has received more than 47,000 mentions on Twitter, a notable percentage of which were from Virgin Media subscribers describing disappointment at the loss. Some subscribers apparently being told by customer services the content will be switched back on in a couple of days, but the UKTV team has no idea what the basis of this claim is. The relationship disintegrated on Saturday, and while the team is open to discussion, the negotiation is not on-going.


  1. Avatar Melvyn Bunting 24/07/2018 @ 6:37 pm

    Been a customer since Telewest Broadband days,almost 20 years! Will definitely be switching to Sky shortly. Reduction in service,reduction in price? Not getting value for money as you can get a better service on Freeview!

  2. Avatar leslie jefferson 24/07/2018 @ 8:17 pm

    I am disgusted veby thivs development,the channels that virgin hahaveve substituted,in place of the ones that have been lost are absolutely naff to say the least,if this becomes permanent, I for one will not be renewing my virgin contract, I do not want ret urn to sky as their service I have found has been very lacking in many areas. but what alternative do I have if I want the missing channels?

  3. Avatar Keir Hardie 24/07/2018 @ 11:57 pm

    Spot on – that is the situation as I understand it. Today (24 July) VM on twitter were still pasting the message saying they were trying to get the ‘free’ channels back, despite the fact that the customers have made it very clear that they want ALL the UKTV channels back

  4. Avatar James Logan 25/07/2018 @ 11:29 am

    The station that replaced alibi etc are terrible. You loose a lot of customers because of this an I
    am seriously considering changing

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