Universal Channel (UK and Ireland)
|Launched||18 October 1999|
|Owned by||Universal Networks International (NBCUniversal)|
|Picture format||16:9, 576i (SDTV)
16:9, 1080i (HDTV)
0.07% (+1) (September 2015 , BARB)
|Broadcast area||United Kingdom, Ireland|
|Formerly called||Hallmark Entertainment Network
Hallmark Channel (until 18 October 2010)
|Sister channel(s)||CNBC Europe
|Timeshift service||Universal Channel +1|
|Sky (UK)||Channel 113 (SD/HD)
Channel 150 (+1)
Channel 204 (SD)
|Sky (Ireland)||Channel 113
Channel 150 (+1)
Channel 204 (HD)
|Virgin Media (UK)||Channel 137
Channel 138 (+1)
Channel 164 (HD)
|Virgin Media (Ireland)||Channel 123
Channel 173 (HD)
|TalkTalk TV||Channel 320|
Channel 385 (HD)
|Sky Go||Watch live (UK and Ireland only)|
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
The Universal Channel is a television channel owned by NBCUniversal.
The channel mainly broadcasts United States imports including drama series and TV movies such as House MD and Law & Order. However the channel also screens British dramas including Hustle and Spooks, and Australian series like Sea Patrol and McLeod's Daughters. The channel specialises in programming that is appropriate for the whole family.
This channel is specific to audiences within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The channel was previously owned by the privately backed Sparrowhawk Media Group, until late 2007 when the company was bought by NBC Universal. It was previously known as the Hallmark Entertainment Network and the Hallmark Channel.
In June 2009, a memorandum leaked to the television trade newspaper Broadcast stated that NBC Universal planned to rebrand the Hallmark Channel as a Universal Channel in October 2009. The "Hallmark Channel" brand was licensed to NBC Universal from Crown Media (which operates the US Hallmark Channel) and was due to expire. An NBC Universal spokesperson denied such a rebrand would happen.
On 2 September 2010, Universal Networks International confirmed plans to rebrand the Hallmark Channel as the Universal Channel in the UK. On 18 October, the pay-TV channel and its timeshift and high definition variants became the Universal Channel, Universal Channel +1 and Universal Channel HD.
The Universal Channel gave UK premieres to cop show Rookie Blue and legal drama Fairly Legal in early 2011. It also aired Shattered, which stars Callum Keith Rennie as a homicide detective suffering from multiple personality disorder.
On 1 December 2010, Universal Channel launched a specific feed which targets Ireland. Universal Channel in Ireland airs localised advertising. The Irish feed does not include subtitles. TV3 act as the Irish variation's advertising sales agents.
On 31 July 2013 Universal Channel announced it was to reposition the channel's identity to viewers in the UK and Ireland. The new look was launched on 5 August 2013 featuring new logo, on-air and on-line identity. The channel uses the tagline '100% Characters'. This coincides with some new programming arriving to the channel from September including UK and Irish premiere of Bates Motel.
- Agatha Christie's Poirot
- The District (now on CBS Action)
- Gilmore Girls (later picked up by E4; now on 5*)
- House (now on Sky Atlantic)
- Hogan's Heroes
- JAG (now on CBS Action)
- McLeod's Daughters
- The Secret World of Alex Mack
- Touched by an Angel (now on CBS Drama)
- Walker, Texas Ranger (now on CBS Action)
Most watched programmes
The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on Universal (previously The Hallmark Channel), based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 16 April 2017. The number of viewers does not include repeats or airings on Universal +1
|Rank||Show||Episode||Number of Viewers||Date|
|1||Sleepy Hollow||1.02 - Blood Moon||612,000||16 October 2013|
|2||1.01 - Pilot||527,000||9 October 2013|
|3||1.03 - For the Triumph of Evil||491,000||23 October 2013|
|4||1.07 - The Midnight Ride||473,000||20 November 2013|
|5||Mr. Robot||1.01 - eps1.0_hellofriend.mov||459,000||21 July 2016|
|6||Sleepy Hollow||1.04 - The Lesser Key of Solomon||456,000||30 October 2013|
|7||2.01 - This is War||449,000||15 October 2014|
|8||Harry's Law||1.02 - The Heat of Passion||448,000||17 October 2011|
|9||Sleepy Hollow||1.06 - The Sin Eater||439,000||13 November 2013|
|10||Chicago Med||2.01 - Soul Care||425,000||23 October 2016|
Universal Channel HD
Universal Channel HD, a high-definition simulcast, launched on Sky (as the Hallmark Channel HD) on 28 June 2010 at 7pm. Showing US shows like the Law & Order titles, CSI and Without a Trace in high definition.
Universal Channel HD was also launched on BT TV on 1 September 2016.
In July 2005, there were rumours that Sparrowhawk were going to launch a sister channel to the Hallmark Channel, called Hallmark 2. This was denied by a spokesperson for Hallmark who said that "a second channel from Hallmark will not be launching 'anytime soon'". Movies 24 was launched instead.
- Shepherd, Robert (25 June 2009). "NBC plans to ditch Hallmark UK brand". Broadcast (Emap Media). Retrieved on 25 June 2009.
- "Hallmark Channel to rebrand as Universal". Digital Spy. 2 September 2010.
- "Subtitles in Ireland – From 1st December". Universal Channel. 29 November 2010.
- "Universal ad deal secured by TV3". The Irish Post. 26 December 2010.
- Fletcher, Alex (31 July 2013). "Universal Channel rebrands with '100% Characters' tagline, new logo". Digital Spy. Retrieved 31 July 2013.
- BARB, via 
- "Sky Extends High Definition Leadership with HD Channel Milestone". British Sky Broadcasting. 12 March 2010.
- "Hallmark Channel HD Launches Tonight on Sky 220". PR Newswire. 28 June 2010.
- "Hallmark Channel HD to launch tonight". Digital Spy. 28 June 2010.
-  Archived 14 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.