Sky Multichannels

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The Sky Multichannels logo used in promotions by British Sky Broadcasting

Sky Multichannels was a package of analogue television channels offered by BSkyB on the Astra satellites at 19.2° east.[1][2] from 1993 - 2001, which started off with 15 channels before expanding to over 40.

History[edit]

The service started on 1 September 1993[3] based on the idea from the then chief executive officer, Sam Chisholm and Rupert Murdoch, of converting the company business strategy to an entirely fee-based concept. The new package included four channels formerly available free-to-air, broadcasting on Astra's satellites, as well as introducing new channels.[2] The service continued until the closure of BSkyB's analogue service on 27 September 2001,[4] due to the launch and expansion of the Sky Digital platform. Some of the channels did broadcast either in the clear or soft encrypted (whereby a Videocrypt decoder was required to decode, but without a subscription card) prior to their addition to the Sky Multichannels package.[5][6]

Within two months of the launch, Sky gained 400,000 new subscribers, with the majority taking at least one premium channel,[7] which helped BSkyB reach 3.5 million households by mid-1994.

Some channels were not launched on 1 September 1993, but were added later; including QVC which launched on 1 October 1993, and VH1 which launched on 1 October 1994.[8] When VH1 Germany launched in 1995, VideoCrypt decoders would blank out the channel to UK viewers and prevent them from watching the German channel free.[9] Nick at Nite, although part of the original Multichannels plan, did not launch.[10] Sky Soap and Sky Travel also launched on 3 October 1994 as part of the package.[11][12] The launch of Astra 1D allowed Sky to expand the multichannels package further,[13] including the launch of Sky's pay-per-view Box Office channels in January 1997.

Sky News and CNBC Europe[14] were also part of the Sky Multichannels package but remained free-to-air. QVC however, which launched as part of the Multichannels package, switched to free-to-view broadcasting in 1995.[15]

Channels which joined the Sky Multichannels package were paid a fee of 15 pence per subscriber per month.[5] A European Multichannels package run by BSkyB also using the VideoCrypt encryption system[16] was planned to be launched soon afterwards,[17] but did not come to fruition. A European package of channels called MultiChoice Kaleidoscope launched on 1 November 1993 using VideoCrypt 2 encryption. The Multichoice service was run by South African based Network Holdings, separate from BSkyB. The Multichoice service initially included Filmnet and The Adult Channel as premium channels and The Children's Channel (in Benelux only), Discovery, MTV, CMT Europe and QVC as basic channels.[18][19][20]

Promotion[edit]

British Sky Broadcasting ran television advertisements prior to the new service launching. However, in 1993, the Independent Television Commission ruled against BSkyB after ten complaints regarding a number of false claims involving some of the channels which were due to be part of the package[21] as well as further complaints about the adverts failing to show that a one-year contract needed to be taken out for any special introductory offer.[22]

To promote the Sky Multichannels package on the Astra satellites, a selection of channels was placed on Sky's preview channel on transponder 47 of Astra 1C in the clear.[23] The preview channel comprised promotional material in the centre of the screen and 12 channels around the edge,[24] including some English channels which were not part of the package. The channel was replaced by Sky Sports 2 on August 19, 1994.[11][25]

During sports programming on Sky One, prior to the launch of Sky Sports 2, channels which were part of the Sky Multichannels package were made available free-to-view, to allow sports subscribers who did not take up the Multichannels package to watch sports coverage, but it was also used to promote the package to viewers who had not signed up to the Multichannels package.[26]

Satellites[edit]

Sky Multichannels utilized space on the Astra 1A, Astra 1B, Astra 1C and Astra 1D satellites.

1993 channel list[edit]

The original subscription charge was £6.99 a month at launch, although those who signed up before 1 September 1993, could get the channels for the discounted price of £3.99 a month until the start of 1994.

Additional packages including the multi channels alongside one or more of Sky's premium channels were available from £11.99 to £19.99.[8]

The channels were encrypted using NDS Group's VideoCrypt system,[1] and required a monthly subscription payment, VideoCrypt decoder and valid viewing card to receive the channels.

Channel name Encryption status (at launch) Genre (at the time) Notes
Sky One encrypted using VideoCrypt General entertainment
Sky News Free-to-air News
UK Living encrypted using VideoCrypt General entertainment for women Part owned by Flextech
Nickelodeon encrypted using VideoCrypt Children's programming 07:00 - 19:00
CNBC Europe New Business and news 06.00 - midday sharing with Bravo and The Adult Channel
Bravo encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic TV and movies Midday to midnight[27] Sharing with CNBC and Adult channel
The Adult Channel New Porn Midnight - 04.00, shared with Bravo and CNBC
CMT Europe encrypted using VideoCrypt Country music videos 06:00 - 16:00, time-shared with Discovery Channel.
Discovery Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt Documentaries 16:00 - 06:00, time-shared with CMT Europe.
UK Gold encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic Programming
The Children's Channel Free-to-air Children's programming 06:00 - 17:00, time-shared with The Family Channel.
The Family Channel Free-to-air General Entertainment 17:00 - 05:00, time-shared with The Children's Channel
QVC Free-to-view encrypted using VideoCrypt Shopping Launched on 1 October 1993.
MTV Europe Free-to-air Music videos MTV did not encrypt at the time Sky Multichannels launched,[28] but did so on 3 July 1995. The channel was encrypted with VideoCrypt 1 for UK viewers and in VideoCrypt 2 for European viewers.[9]
VH1 New Music videos aimed towards middle-agers Launched on 1 October 1994, but was promoted from the start

1995 channel list[edit]

In 1995 the number of Sky customers exceeded 5 million.[29] Sky Sports 2, Sky Soap, and Sky Travel which launched on 3 October 1994, joined the package.[30]

The launch of Astra 1D allowed Sky to expand the multichannels package further, with Sci Fi Channel, History Channel, and Paramount Channel, by November 1995. QVC however, which launched as part of the Multichannels package, switched to free-to-view broadcasting in 1995.[31]

Channel number Channel name Encryption status Genre (at the time) Notes
1 Sky One encrypted using VideoCrypt General entertainment
6 UK Living encrypted using VideoCrypt General entertainment for women 06.00-00.00
7 Nickelodeon encrypted using VideoCrypt Children's programming 07:00 - 19:00,
7 The Paramount Channel New Comedy and Drama Launched 1 November 1995: 19:00 - 04:00, timeshared with Nickelodeon.
8 TLC UK NEW Documentaries 09:00 - 16:00
8 Discovery Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt Documentaries 16:00 - 06:00
9 UK Gold encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic Programming
10 The Children's Channel Free-to-air Children's programming 06:00 - 17:00, time-shared with The Family Channel.
10 The Family Channel New General entertainment 17:00 - 00:00, time-shared with The Children's Channel.
11 Sky Travel New Travel programming Launched 3 October 94: 06.00-12.00 weekday (Note see below)
11 Sky Soap New Soap Launched 3 October 94: 12.00-16.00 weekday (Note see below)
11 History Channel New History Launched 11 November 1995: 16.00-20.00
11 Sci Fi Channel New Entertainment with a sci-fi theme Launched 1 October 1995: 20.00-04.00
12 QVC Free-to-view encrypted using VideoCrypt Shopping Launched on 1 October 1993, but was promoted from the start.
13 CNBC Europe New Business and news 06.00 - midday sharing with Bravo and The Adult Channel
13 Bravo encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic TV and movies Midday to midnight
14 CMT Europe encrypted using VideoCrypt Country music videos 06:00 - 19:00, time-shared with JSTV
15 MTV Europe Free-to-air Music videos MTV did not encrypt at the time Sky Multichannels launched,[28] but did so on 3 July 1995. The channel was encrypted with VideoCrypt 1 for UK viewers, and in VideoCrypt 2 for European viewers.[9]
16 VH1 New Music videos aimed towards middle-agers Launched on 1 October 1994, but was promoted from the start
  • Channel 11 notes: up until October 1995
  • 0000-0600 - Daily Chinese news and entertainment (PAL/Clear)
  • 0800-1200 - Weekdays Sky Soap (PAL/VideoCrypt/Multi channel)
  • 1200-0000 - Mon to Thu and 1200-1800 Fri: Sky Travel (PAL/VideoCrypt/Multi channel)
  • 1800-0000 - Fri,and 0800-0000 Sat, Sun Sky Sports 2 (PAL/VideoCrypt/Sports subscription)

1996 Channel List[edit]

In 1996, Sky Reached 6 million Subscribers, Launch of a further six channels including Sky Sports 3 and extended its Premier league rights[29]

Further details can be seen here: http://wayback.archive.org/web/19961114121936/http://www.satcodx.com/astra.html and http://www.reocities.com/heartland/4407/uksw.htm

Channel number Channel name Encryption status Genre (at the time) Notes
1 Sky One encrypted using VideoCrypt General Entertainment
6 UK Living encrypted using VideoCrypt General Entertainment for women Part owned by Flextech
7 Nickelodeon encrypted using VideoCrypt Children's programming 07:00 - 19:00,
7 The Paramount Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt Comedy and Drama 19:00 - 04:00, timeshared with Nickelodeon.
8 CNBC Europe encrypted using VideoCrypt Business and news 07.00 - 12.00
8 Trouble encrypted using VideoCrypt Teenagers 12.00 - 20.00,
8 Bravo encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic TV and movies 20.00-07.00
9 UK Gold encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic Programming
10 The Children's Channel Free-to-air Children's programming 06:00 - 17:00, time-shared with The Family Channel.
10 Challenge encrypted using VideoCrypt General Entertainment 17:00 - 00:00, timeshared with The Children's Channel.
11 Sky Travel encrypted using VideoCrypt Travel programming 07.00-12.00 - weekday
11 Sky Soap encrypted using VideoCrypt Soap 12.00-16.00 - weekday
11 History Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt History 16.00-20.00 - weekday
11 Sci Fi Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt Entertainment Mon-Wed 20.00-04.00. Thurs-Sun 01.00-04.00
12 QVC Free-to-view encrypted using VideoCrypt Shopping Launched on 1 October 1993, but was promoted from the start.
13 TLC UK encrypted using VideoCrypt Documentaries 09:00-16:00,
13 Discovery Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt Documentaries 16.00-02:00,
13 HSN Direct encrypted using VideoCrypt Shopping 02:00-09.00
14 Fox Kids encrypted using VideoCrypt Cartoons 06.00 - 19.00, sharing with Sky Two.
14 Sky Two encrypted using VideoCrypt General entertainment 19.00 - 06.00. Sky 2 began broadcasting on 1 September 1996 at 7pm
15 MTV Europe encrypted using VideoCrypt Music videos
16 VH1 encrypted using VideoCrypt Music videos aimed towards middle-agers
20 Granada Plus encrypted using VideoCrypt Classic TV 06.00 - 23.00, sharing with Cartoon Network Launched 17 September 1993
20 Granada Men & Motors encrypted using VideoCrypt Sports and cult TV aimed at men 23.00-02.00
21 Granada Good Life encrypted using VideoCrypt Lifestyle programming aimed at women 06.00 - 18.00,
21 Computer Channel encrypted using VideoCrypt Programming about computing 18.00-20.00
22 Granada Talk TV encrypted using VideoCrypt Talk and phone-in programming 06.00-18.00,
22 Sky Scottish encrypted using VideoCrypt Scottish programmes 18.00-20.00
23 Sky Movies Gold Premium channel Classic movies 17.00-05.00
25 CMT Europe encrypted using VideoCrypt Country music videos 24 hours

1997[edit]

During 1997: Same as above but:

  • UKTV network launched added three new channels
  • National Geographic Channel launches, Replacing Sky Two, time Sharing with Fox Kids
  • Christian Ch. Europe (04-11), Sky Soaps (11 -16) The History Channel (16-20) Sci-Fi Channel (20-04) Moved to a new channel allow Sky Sports 2 to broadcast longer.
  • EBN - European Business News (06-12), Trouble (12-20), Bravo (20-06)
  • Pay-per-view movies launch on Sky Box Office.
  • http://www.selkirkshire.demon.co.uk/analoguesat/historiclists/Sky97.html

The Subscription Costs, July 1997

  • Sky Multi Channel Package - £11.99 / month
  • Sky Multi Channels + Sky Movies OR The Movie Channel - £17.99 / month
  • Sky Multi Channels + Sky Sports 1 (SS2 and SS3 are bonus channels in this package)- £17.99 / month
  • Sky Multi Channels + 2 Premium Channels + 2 bonus channels - £23.99 / month
  • Sky Multi Channels + 3 Premium Channels + 4 bonus channels - £26.99 / month

Closure[edit]

Due to the growth of digital television and the Sky Digital platform, alongside greater choice of channels and the removal of channels having to timeshare due to bandwidth constraints, BSkyB soon announced that its analogue service would cease transmittion for good with all channels in the Multichannels package closing down by 2001.[32] BSkyB started to cease analogue with the shutdown of Sky Soap on 30 April 1999, which was then followed by TV Travel Shop which became exclusive to digital later in the year. It then continued into February 2000 with many of the channels on Astra 1D being discontinued. In May 2001, it was announced that due to the possibility of lost revenue from the existing 242,000 analogue subscribers, the closure of the remaining analogue would be delayed until September 2001 from its original plan of June.[33][34] BSkyB closed down the last remaining channel in the Multichannels package, Sky One, alongside two other channels on September 27, 2001.[4]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "British Sky Broadcasting Group plc". Funding Universe. Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
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  6. ^ "Sky Television - Advertising". TV Ark. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
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  9. ^ a b c "MediaScan - Number 2220". Radio Sweden. 1995-03-21. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  10. ^ "NICK AT NITE FOR UK NOW IN DOUBT". Highbeam Research. Screen Digest. 1994-03-01. Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
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  13. ^ "Sky Guide Issue 39". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  14. ^ "Mediascan - Number 2245". Radio Sweden. 1996-04-02. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  15. ^ "MediaScan - Number 2219". Radio Sweden. 1995-03-07. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  16. ^ Ingram, Darren (1993-10-11). "Satnews - Issue 118". M2 Communications Limited. Retrieved 2007-02-17. 
  17. ^ "Sky Guide - Issue 24". Retrieved 2007-02-17. 
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  23. ^ "Sky Guide Issue 37 (Inactive as of 2007-04-29)". Retrieved 2007-02-16. [dead link]
  24. ^ Williams, Martyn. "TELE Satellit - Number 6". Retrieved 2007-02-17. 
  25. ^ Williams, Martyn. "TELE Satellit - number 8". Retrieved 2007-02-17. 
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  27. ^ http://www.ftp.funet.fi/pub/dx/text/NEWS/SCDX/scdx2184.txt
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  29. ^ a b http://www.skyuser.co.uk/sky20/sky_at_20_time_line.html
  30. ^ http://ftp.funet.fi/pub/dx/text/satellite/telesatellit/ts941002.txt
  31. ^ http://ftp.funet.fi/pub/dx/text/NEWS/SCDX/scdx2219.txt
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  34. ^ Bohem, Erich (2001-05-09). "BSkyB digital subs top 5 mil". Variety. Retrieved 2008-06-14.