Challenge (TV channel)
Challenge logo used from 2013.
|Launched||1 September 1993|
|Owned by||Sky plc|
|Picture format||16:9, 4:3, 576i (SDTV)|
0.05% (+1) (July 2015 , BARB)
|Formerly called||The Family Channel (1993–97)
Challenge TV (1997–2002)
Sky Movies Box Office,
Sky Sports F1,
Sky Sports News HQ
|Timeshift service||Challenge +1|
Channel 146 (+1)
Channel 164 (+1)
|Astra 2E||12304 H 27500 2/3|
|Virgin Media||Channel 139
Channel 180 (+1)
Channel 86 (+1)
|UPC Ireland||Channel 157|
|This section is incomplete. (May 2014)|
The Family Channel UK
The station was originally called The Family Channel. From its launch on 1 September 1993 to 2 February 1997, the channel aired shows from a mixture of genres, mainly sitcoms, game shows, dramas and entertainment. The Family Channel came about when TVS was sold on 1 February 1993 to the American Company International Family Entertainment Inc. which included the ownership of MTM Enterprises. IFE subsequently launched a UK version of The Family Channel based in The Maidstone Studios and using some elements of the TVS programme archive. Flextech were a partner in the venture, taking a 39% stake in the business.
The Family Channel did produce some UK original programming (see below), but heavily relied upon content from MTM Enterprises/TVS archive and imports from the USA. It was claimed that the channel produced more original series worldwide than any other cable or satellite network.
During the early evening, viewers were given the chance to win prizes and play games "Game play" and "Family channel live" sections which both featured live in-vision presenters.
Family Challenge Weekend
In April 1996, IFE sold its remaining 61% share to Flextech, giving them full ownership of the venture and production studio in Maidstone. The deal did not include any of the programme archive which included many TVS game shows, such as Catchphrase and All Clued Up, but the channel did continually broadcast these series until 2000.
Flextech plans were to relaunch the channel as Challenge during the autumn of 1996, featuring weekend and evening quiz shows and daily dramas aimed at housewives. It was delayed because of plans by Granada Sky Broadcasting to launch a rival service, called Good Life.
Instead, on 5 October 1996, the weekend slots were rebranded as "Family Challenge Weekend" which focused mainly on game shows, and had in vision presenters during the whole evening. During the week, The Family Channel continued to broadcast its wide range of programmes, including dramas and comedy.
On 3 February 1997, The Family Channel was re-branded as Challenge TV and mainly focuses on gameshows taken from a variety of terrestrial and digital channel archives. Among the few non-gameshows, it has aired the short-lived US drama Dr. Vegas in 2005, and also the 1995 crime drama film Casino.
The channel was originally a primetime block from 17:00 to 00:30 and shared its channel slot with The Children's Channel (which closed on 3 April 1998) and TV Travel Shop until 1999, which resulted in Challenge being able to broadcast 24 hours a day. From 3 February 1997 to the end of 1998, between 00:30 and 06:00, the channel was branded as "Family Late" which continued to broadcast series from the old Family Channel schedule til September 1998 and then broadcast Challenge TV programming which change from the old Family Channel schedule to non-stop gameshows like the prime-time schedule.
On 7 April 2009, Virgin Media, the then current owner, formally began the sale of its content operation. On 13 July 2010, Sky and Virgin Media announced that Sky has completed the acquisition of Virgin Media Television (VMtv) following regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland.
On 15 September 2010, Sky announced a number of its sister channels Bravo, Bravo 2 and Channel One, were closed, which resulted in a small number of programmes being moved. On 25 January 2011, it was confirmed that Total Nonstop Action Wrestling programming would start broadcasting on Challenge from 3 February 2011.
On 7 October 2013, the channel went through a revamp, which included a new logo, and a set of animated characters, named the "Challengers", as idents to represent each type of show; such as Les Play for classics, Ellie for lighter physical shows or Cecil the Geek for science shows.
The channel also aired some poker game shows including World Poker Tour, Celebrity Blackjack and Casino Casino. It also launched a very short-lived spin-off channel in 2006, Player (which was replaced just several months later by Bravo 2), which mainly focused on the poker-related programming that Challenge had transmitted. Challenge only aired programmes in the letterbox format (4:3), but on 3 June 2008, it switched to the widescreen format (16:9) along with all other Living TV Group channels. This was coupled with a revamped logo and a new set of idents. The channel used to have interactive features for digital cable and satellite viewers watching certain shows, enabling them to play along at home, and it used to offer many games and competitions before the start of each programme, during commercial breaks and after the end of each programme.
Challenge have had various programming blocks, for example, Fully Loaded!, a former morning programming block from around 2007 which consisted of Win, Lose or Draw, Wheel of Fortune, Catchphrase, Bullseye and Family Fortunes.
Although the bulk of Challenge's schedule consists of game shows, the channel also broadcasts some other entertainment programming. Challenge is the UK rights holder for TNA Wrestling, airing Impact Wrestling, TNA Xplosion and delayed coverage of pay-per-view events, alongside original home-produced output for the channel, including BWC: British Wrestling Round-Up, Wrestle Talk TV and the reality series TNA British Boot Camp.
A gaming review show, Videogame Nation, also airs on Saturday mornings (originally Sundays). In August 2014, Challenge aired its first coverage of championship darts - delayed broadcasts of the PDC Sydney Masters.
- UK media group Flextech. (invests in UK Family Channel) (Brief Article) – Broadcasting & Cable | HighBeam Research
- Robertson wins TVS. The Times, Saturday, 23 January 1993
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- "International Family Entertainment Agrees To Consolidate The Family Channel Uk Into Flextech Plc. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. 1996-03-20. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- Fri, 15 Nov 1996 (1996-11-15). "Family Channel hands relaunch task to TBWA | Archive". Marketing Week. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- The times newspaper and the Guardian newspaper October 1996
- "Virgin Media begins sale of its content operations". Media Week. 2009-04-07.
- "BSkyB and Virgin Media Complete Sale of VMtv". Virgin Media. 2010-07-13. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
- "WWE News, TNA News, WWE Payback Results (6/1)". WrestlingNewsSource.Com. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- Sweney, Mark (15 September 2010). "BSkyB to close Bravo and Channel One". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- "BARB reported channels". overnights.tv. 17 January 2011.
- "TNA set for Freeview". The Sun. 25 January 2011.
- Paul (2011-01-26). "Entertainment Interactive". Entertainment-iuk.com. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "Challenge TV launching on Freesat". Join Freesat. 1 December 2012.
- "Challenge and Pick get an exciting new look". Skymedia.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
- "An Exciting New Look On". Challenge. Retrieved 2014-05-30.