Challenge, a channel best known for re-showing old British quiz and gameshows will go live on channel 8 on Wednesday (1st February).
It’s a surprising addition to the Saorview service, especially given one of Challenge’s main shows at the moment – The Chase – is already widely screened across Virgin Media TV’s free-to-air channel portfolio.
After a stagnant decade, Saorview has seen a resurgence of interest by broadcasters recently, with Comcast launching Sky News on the platform in late-2021. That was followed in 2022 by the arrival of Virgin Media Four and an upgrade of TG4 to HD.
As Saorview capacity has filled, placeholder information channels and testcards broadcast over the air have switched to being delivered as data services.
To create capacity for Challenge, services on Saorview’s multiplex 2 were compressed on 26th January 2023, allowing more services to share the same bandwidth.
Saorview was originally launched in 2011 using DVB-T and MPEG4 video encoding, ensuring the widest number of new TVs and set-top boxes at the time would be able to receive the service.
DVB-T2 had only just recently launched in some countries, including the UK, and there were still relatively few devices that supported T2.
As more services join Saorview, the lack of DVB-T2 support means there is a lower limit of how many services can fit on the available capacity.
It would be difficult to envisage many more services arriving unless the platform began to support hybrid internet services, extra channels available to viewers who have a connected TV.
While the recent additions to Saorview will be welcomed, there is a feeling that Ireland’s main cable and satellite pay TV operators have just stuffed remaining Saorview capacity with relatively low value channels in a move that ensures there’s no free-to-air threat to their platforms going forward.
Filling Saorview capacity also insures against any third party attempting to launch anything too attractive to viewers.
PICTURED: Challenge/Saorview logos. COPYRIGHT: Sky plc/Saorview.