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Why can’t I watch the same channels on Freesat and Freeview? Dave, Quest, Challenge, W, 4Music

Why can’t I get Challenge, 4Music, Pick, Quest and Dave on Freesat if they’re on Freeview?

Freesat has lots more channels than Freeview, but some of the most popular channels Freeview channels are not on Freesat, and satellite TV viewers can only see them by subscribing to Sky.

These include Challenge, 4Music, Pick, Quest, W (the channel formerly known as Watch) and Dave – and Dave is now one of the most popular channels on British TV and is by far the most popular non-PSB channel.

The villain of the tale – if you’re a Freesat viewer – is Sky, which has long-standing subscription agreements with the TV channels that cover satellite broadcasting, but not Freeview. As long as they’re in place, these channels can’t appear on Freesat.

Argumental, on Dave, not on Freesat

How can Sky stop channels appearing on different TV services?

TV is a business, and Sky has contracts which pre-date the launch of Freesat in 2008, and Pick is nothing more than a showcase of old Sky shows to tempt Freeview folk into taking a full Sky subscription. It even used to be called Sky 3.

The broadcasters who own these channels – UKTV, Discovery and Channel 4 among them – all get a slice of Sky subscription income as well as advertising revenue, so they’re not likely to give that up in a hurry.

What is UKTV?

UKTV is currently jointly owned by BBC Worldwide and a company called Scripps Networks Interactive.

While channels like Dave, Really, Gold and Yesterday show classic BBC content, UKTV channels also showcase content from the National Geographic Channel, Australia’s ABC, Animal Planet. Scripps Networks content from US-based channels like Man v Food (Travel Channel) and Barefoot Contessa (Food Network).

Aren’t Freesat and Freeview the same thing?

No. They have shareholders in common, like the BBC and ITV, but they’re very different.

Freeview is just a marketing organisation for digital terrestrial TV in the UK. It owns the Freeview brand but it doesn’t have the final say in which channels are on Freeview, or where they live in the programme guide.

In fact, Sky is one of the founding partners in Freeview, from 2001, so it has some say in the running of its biggest rival in British TV.

Freesat is a much more tightly-run organisation, run by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. It controls the programme guide and the technical specification of Freesat boxes, as well as owning its branding.

Will Dave and the other channels ever join Freesat?

It’s all down to the money.

Today, Sky has more than 12 million TV customers. By contrast, there’s 1.93 million Freesat homes. If these channels decide to leave Sky, they would lose their subscription income, and the extra advertising income from Freesat viewers probably won’t cover the difference.

If Freesat can find, say, five million homes willing to drop Sky, then maybe these channels will see a brighter future on free TV.

That said, in late 2015, we saw Yesterday, Drama and Really finally landing on Freesat which is great news for subscription-free satellite TV customers.

However, a spokesperson told us at the time: ““There are no current plans to launch Dave on Freesat. However, we are always looking at opportunities to extend our reach.”

Read next: Channel 5 HD finally comes to Freeview and Freesat


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