ITV Digital Channels
|Subsidiary of ITV plc|
|Parent||Granada plc/BSkyB (1996–2004)|
ITV plc (2004–)
ITV Digital Channels Limited (ITVDCL) (formerly known as Granada Sky Broadcasting or GSkyB) is a wholly owned subsidiary of British television broadcaster ITV plc. ITV Digital Channels Ltd now solely under control of ITV plc is today a profitable business which runs all ITV plc's television channels with the exception of ITV, which is part of the ITV Network.
Granada Sky Broadcasting was set up in 1996 and operated until 2004 as a joint venture between Granada plc and BSkyB to launch a range of television channels broadcasting the Granada and London Weekend Television archive on the Sky satellite television platform as well as other digital platforms such as ITV Digital (closed in 2002 due to administration), NTL and Telewest (both merged to form Virgin Media).
On 2 February 2004, Granada merged with Carlton Communications to form ITV plc. On 1 November 2004, ITV plc agreed to purchase BSkyB's stake in GSB for £10 million. The deal included the slot that Plus was broadcast on, which ITV used on the Sky platform to broadcast its new ITV3 channel, which replaced Plus on the same day. The negotiations that led to ITV plc taking sole control of GSB, closing Granada Plus and launching ITV3 on digital satellite were apparently completed just hours before the new channel started broadcasting. A week later, on 8 November 2004, Granada Sky Broadcasting was renamed "ITV Digital Channels Limited". The closure of Granada Plus left Men & Motors the sole survivor of the original four channels. As part of ITV's buy-out of Sky's shareholding Sky will receive 49.5% of any proceeds (net of liabilities) from any future sale of Men & Motors.
On 2 May 2005, Men & Motors launched as free-to-air channel on the Freeview digital terrestrial television service. It was rumoured that ITV plc would replace Men & Motors with ITV4, another men's channel, when it launched on 1 November 2005, echoing the launch of ITV3 in 2004. However, after a better than expected performance from Men & Motors as a free-to-air channel and avoiding the issues that led to ITV3 replacing Plus, both channels continued and ITV plc cut the hours of the ITV News Channel to make way for ITV4 and CITV instead. The News Channel closed in December 2005, with its remaining bandwidth used for CITV.
Although ITV4 started broadcasting from the Astra satellite on 1 November, it was not placed on the Sky EPG until 7 November. Because of this, some ITV4 sporting programming was simulcast on Men & Motors in a ITV4 on m&m strand.
Despite the previous U-turn not to close Men & Motors, fresh rumours over the channel's future began to circulate in early 2006 due to a poorer than expected performance from the fledgling ITV4 service. In April 2006 Men & Motors left Freeview to make way for the launch of ITV Play. It closed on Virgin Media on 25 March 2010, and finally closed on Sky and Freesat on 1 April, to make way for a permanent EPG position for ITV HD.
Currently, ITV2 and ITV3 are the highest rating digital TV channels[dubious ] in the United Kingdom. ITV4 is benefiting from extra investment and is also improving its share of the viewing. The CITV channel is the number one commercial kids TV channel having a higher share of viewers compared to Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.
In 2014, the portfolio of ITV's channels was expanded with the launch of ITV Encore, a drama channel, and ITVBe, a reality and lifestyle channel. The launch of the latter lead to ITV2's repositioning as a youth focused entertainment channel.
ITV Digital Channels Ltd operates the following ITV plc's Television channels:
- ITV2 (and ITV2 +1) – a general entertainment channel
- ITV3 (and ITV3 +1) – a drama and movie channel
- ITV4 (and ITV4 +1) – a channel aimed at men
- ITVBe (and ITVBe +1) – a channel aimed at women
- ITV Box Office – a pay-per-view sports channel
- CITV – a channel aimed at children
- The Store – a shopping channel
- ITV HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV plc's ITV channel
- ITV2 HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV2
- ITV3 HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV3
- ITV4 HD – a high definition simulcast of ITV4
- ITVBe HD – a high definition simulcast of ITVBe
- Plus – launched as Granada Plus on 1 October 1996, showing entertainment programmes from the archives of Granada, LWT and its subsidiaries. It was closed on 1 November 2004 to allow ITV3 to launch on Sky.
- Granada Breeze – launched as Granada Good Life on 1 October 1996, a lifestyle channel split into four segments: Granada Food & Wine, Granada Health & Beauty, Granada TV High Street and Granada Home & Garden. Relaunched as Granada Breeze in May 1998 in order to improve ratings but closed on 30 April 2002.
- Men & Motors – launched as Granada Men & Motors on 1 October 1996, a channel aimed at men. Last of the original Granada Sky Broadcasting channels to close on 1 April 2010.
- Granada Talk TV – a debate channel launched on 1 October 1996. Closed on 31 August 1997.
- ITV Encore (and ITV Encore +1) – a drama channel launched on 9 June 2014. Closed on 1 May 2018.