Sky planning EPG overhaul

Sky is planning a radical overhaul of its EPG, that will boost the visibility of HD, time-shifted and documentary channels.

The pay-TV operator has kicked off an eight-week consultation with its channel partners about the far-reaching changes, which are designed to simplify an increasingly sprawling programme guide.

Under the proposals, Sky will move broadcasters’ HD channels up the EPG, replacing their standard definition services. In turn the SD channels will be moved into a dedicated part of the EPG, in the 800 range.

However, the situation is complicated by BBC1, ITV and Channel 4’s regional opt-outs, with programming such as local news and adverts currently only broadcast in SD. In regions where an HD opt-out is unavailable, the SD channels will retain their positions at 101, 103 and 104, while their HD versions will also remain unaffected.

In regions where HD opt-outs are broadcast the channels will be swapped. For example, in London Channel 4 HD will leap from slot 227 to 104, while its SD service will shift to 804.

At the same time, Sky will pull out the 75 +1 channels it offers and re-group them into a new number range, also accessible via a dedicated tab. The channels will be re-ordered to mirror the primary EPG, moving ITV +1 and Channel 4 + 1 ahead of the time-shifted Comedy Central, Sky Living and Sky 1 channels.

The decluttering move will enable Sky to merge its entertainment and documentaries sections into a single category. Channels such as Discovery, Nat Geo and History will leapfrog the movies, music, sports and news channels.

Children’s channels, including CBBC, Disney and Nickelodeon, will also move up, running from slot 250, rather than their current home in the 600s.

The shake-up will also enable broadcasters with a +1 slot to reallocate or trade their position.

Sky’s director of channels and operations Jon Simkin said “We asked viewers how easy they find our linear EPG to use. Overall the feedback was positive, but they raised a few areas where they thought we could make their viewing experience better.”

Following an eight-week consultation, Sky is expected to offer broadcasters a further three-month period to get to grips with the changes ahead of a rollout on the 1st of March 2018.