It's not even been a month since Virgin Media announced that all the UKTV channels, including the likes of Dave and Gold, would be leaving the service as a result of stalled negotiations. Virgin wasn't happy with "inflated fees" and the fact it couldn't show UKTV programming on-demand. It claimed the BBC holds back the rights so it can sell them off to third party streaming services. Now it's been announced those channels have returned to Virgin packages.
Following the news there was a lot of backlash towards UKTV and Virgin, as it meant Virgin TV customers lost access to 10 channels as a result of the spat. They included the free-to-air Dave, Drama, Really, and Yesterday, plus the premium Gold, Alibi, Eden, Good Food, and W. It got to the point where people had been switching back to regular Freeview in order to watch the channels, or at least that's what Freeview said.
Now, though, Virgin says that the free-to-air channels have already been restored, though the premium channels require more technical work and will be readded to the TV planner in the immediate future. The good news for customers is that the drought doesn't seem to have been in vain. Customers on the pricier TV packages, including Virgin's 'Full House' will get access to five times more on-demand content and "significantly more" boxsets.
Meanwhile people on the cheaper packages will still get new access to Dave and Gold's HD channels, and all the new channels added as a result of the original loss aren't going anywhere.
UKTV released a statement about the news on Twitter over the weekend, while Simon Michaelides, the broadcaster's chief commercial officer, said:
"We know this has created real disruption for some of our viewers and we're so sorry for this, but we are thrilled to be back, broadcasting our channels and shows to customers of Virgin Media once more."
An update from the team at UKTV. Thank you everyone for your support. pic.twitter.com/Vi6rxykZI9
— Official UKTV (@UKTV) August 11, 2018
Meanwhile David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media said:
"Reaching this agreement reaffirms our longstanding partnership with UKTV and is fantastic news for our customers. They can enjoy channels like Dave and Gold once again, including in HD, and also get more UKTV on-demand programming than ever before.
We are sorry for what we know has been a frustrating time for our customers, but are pleased that our TV bundles are now even bigger.”
So now Virgin Media customers can return to watching old episodes of Top Gear and QI without having to switch back to the plain standard Freeview interface. [BBC News]