Axe falls on Universal and VH1 UK

Two long-running linear TV channels are being axed in the coming weeks.

In an update to its website, BT has revealed that both Universal TV and VH1 UK  will "no longer be available in the UK market".

According to BT, it means Universal TV, best known for its diet of NCIS and CSI series, will no longer be available from 27th January 2020, although BT TV customers have been told that recordings will can still be retrieved until 23rd February 2020. Other platform operators carrying the channel have not yet commented on arrangements for their customers.

It ends months of speculation surrounding Universal, which was notably omited from press announcements earlier this year linked to a rejig of Sky / Comcast's channels in the UK. Social media and website updates for the channel have fizzled out in 2019, with Universal's Sky channel slot seen as a prime candidate for the new Sky Comedy channel, which launches the same day Universal closes. Many shows that previously would have screened on Universal have been appearing on Sky Witness.

Meanwhile, the closure of VH1 UK is due to happen on 7th January 2020, less than two years after the channel was turned from a music to a reality TV channel.

The move has left VH1 UK with wall-to-wall showings of The Real Housewives of... and other reality TV shows, in a far cry from the channel's musical origins, which famously included music factoid show Pop Up Video around the turn of the century.

VH1 UK is a ViacomCBS channel. The broadcaster is also making changes to other channels in its channel portfolio on the same day: as announced last week, 5Spike is being replaced by Paramount Network across all platforms.

We're awaiting announcements / statements from the affected broadcasters about their impending closure.

BT's announcement, which is available for all potential new subscribers to see, is a welcome development in ensuring customers are well informed before they sign-up for a contract.