Challenge (TV channel)

Challenge is a British free-to-air television channel owned by Sky, a division of Comcast. The channel mostly transmits game shows from the UK and around the world, with some original productions.

Logo used since 2016
CountryUnited Kingdom
Picture format16:9 576i SDTV
Timeshift serviceChallenge +1 (2004–2020)
OwnerLiving TV Group (1993–2010)
Sky Group (2010–present)
Sister channelsBlaze
Crime & Investigation
Sky Arts
Sky Atlantic
Sky Cinema
Sky Showcase
Sky Comedy
Sky Crime
Sky Documentaries
Sky History
Sky Kids
Sky One (until 2021)
Sky History 2
Sky Max
Sky Nature
Sky News
Sky Replay
Sky Sci-Fi
Sky Sports
Sky Sports Box Office
Sky Sports F1
Sky Sports News
Sky Sports Racing
Sky Witness
Launched1 September 1993 (1993-09-01) (as The Family Channel)
3 February 1997 (1997-02-03) (as Challenge TV)
20 May 2002 (2002-05-20) (as Challenge?)
30 June 2003 (2003-06-30), Irish channel
1 February 2023 (2023-02-01)
Former namesThe Family Channel (1993–97)
Challenge TV (1997–2002)
Challenge? (2002–03)
FreeviewChannel 48
SaorviewChannel 8
Streaming media
Sky GoWatch live (UK and Ireland only)


The Family Channel

Family Channel UK ident (1995)

The channel was originally launched Wednesday 1 September 1993 as The Family Channel, a British version of the American cable network of the same name, owned by U.S. firm International Family Entertainment, a spin-off of the Christian Broadcasting Network's cable network The Family Channel, and this channel was shared with Children's Channel. Earlier in the year, IFE had acquired the assets of the defunct ITV franchise TVS for US$68.5 million (which included the MTM Enterprises library, and The Maidstone Studios), it was launched the same day as the UK and Ireland version of Nickelodeon, another American-based channel.

In June 1993, prior to its launch, IFE sold a 39% stake in the channel to Flextech.[1] The Family Channel did produce some UK original programming, but heavily relied upon content from MTM and TVS's archives, and other U.S. imports. It was claimed that the channel produced more original series worldwide than any other cable or satellite network.

In April 1996, IFE sold its remaining 61% share to Flextech,[2][3] giving them full ownership of the venture and production studio in Maidstone.[4] The deal did not include any of the programme archive which included many TVS game shows, such as Catchphrase and All Clued Up, but the channel did continually broadcast these series until 2000.

Challenge TV (1997–2002)

Flextech planned to relaunch the channel as The Challenge Channel during the autumn of 1996, with daytime targeted towards housewives, and evening and weekend programming focused on game shows. However, Flextech decided to delay the full relaunch of The Family Channel so it would not compete with the October 1996 launch of Granada Sky Broadcasting's suite of channels—which included the potential competitor Granada Good Life.[5] Instead, The Family Channel began transitioning to the new brand by introducing a weekend game show strand known as Family Challenge Weekend.[6][7]

On Monday 3 February 1997, The Family Channel rebranded as Challenge TV, devoting the majority of its lineup to game shows. The channel was a primetime block from 17:00 to 00:30 with the overnight hours - 00:30 to 06:00 - branded as "Family Late", which continued to air its previous entertainment programming.

Challenge and Family Late shared its channel slot with The Children's Channel (which closed on Friday 3 April 1998) and later with TV Travel Shop.

At the end of 1998, Family Late ended, and in 1999, TV Travel Shop moved to a different transponder. Consequently, Challenge started to broadcast 24 hours a day, except on analogue cable services, where it continued to timeshare with TV Travel Shop.


On Monday 20 May 2002, Challenge TV renamed to Challenge? as it launched interactive services for Sky Digital customers.[8]

On Monday 30 June 2003, Challenge got new idents, Dices, Dices 2, Toaster, Cars, Jelly Cake, Kitchen, Supermarket & Dogs.

Beginning in mid-2003, Challenge began to focus on gambling-related programming. By May 2005, a dedicated gambling-themed block on the channel titled Player was introduced, which ran on the channel from 10:00 pm every night.[9] The block expanded to its own channel on Thursday 2 March 2006, which instead became a sister channel to Bravo rather than one of Challenge.[10] The spin-off channel lasted seven months before being rebranded as Bravo 2 on September 28 of that year.

In mid-2004, a timeshift channel called Challenge +1 launched on Sky Digital, and would later launch on Telewest and NTL.

On Monday 1 November 2004, the channel temporarily rebranded with the Vox-Pops idents.

On Thursday 28 September 2006, the 2004 Vox-Pops idents are cancelled to make new 2006 idents including Orange and Blue, Dark Blue & Red.

On Tuesday 3 June 2008, the channel began airing in 16:9 ratio and was rebranded. On Tuesday 1 July 2008, a new sister channel called Challenge Jackpot was launched as a joint-venture between Virgin Media Television and Two Way Media.[11] It was not available in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland or the Channel Islands due to "regulatory and legal restrictions". Games were overseen by Ofcom and the Alderney Gambling Control Commission.

Sky takeover

On Tuesday 7 April 2009, Virgin Media, the then current owner, formally began the sale of its content operation.[12] On 13 July 2010, Sky and Virgin Media announced that Sky had completed the acquisition of Virgin Media Television (VMtv) following regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland.[13]

In March 2010, with the announcement of the purchase of VIM by Sky, NetPlay TV (who acquired Two-Way Media in April 2009) terminated their agreement with VIM to run Challenge Jackpot, with the venture being fully sold to NetPlay.[14] The dedicated channel was soon closed on Saturday 1 January 2011, and the Challenge Jackpot brand would be replaced with "Jackpot247" in September of that year.

The buyout led to some changes within the now-named Living TV Group. On 15 September, Sky announced to close Bravo, Bravo 2 and Channel One, which led to many of the programmes formerly running on the channel moving to other networks owned by Sky. Channel One's slot on Freeview would be replaced with Challenge, expanding the viewership of the channel, and making it free-to-air around the United Kingdom. On Tuesday 1 February 2011, Challenge replaced Channel One's Freeview space on the Freeview multiplex.[15][16][17]

On Tuesday 25 January 2011, it was confirmed that Total Nonstop Action Wrestling programming would start broadcasting on Challenge from 3 February 2011.[18]

Challenge launched on the free-to-air satellite platform Freesat on Monday 3 December 2012.[19]

On Monday 7 October 2013, the channel went through a revamp, which included a new logo, and a set of animated characters, named the "Challengers", as idents to represent each type of show; such as Les Play for classics, Ellie for lighter physical shows or Cecil the Geek for science shows.[20][21]

On Thursday 23 June 2016, the channel went through another revamp, discarding the "Challengers" and introducing a new logo which features a segmented C. The new idents for the channel work in elements of game shows that are broadcast by the channel including Deal or No Deal and Pointless, and include commercial bumpers which feature famous game show sayings such as Blockbusters ' "Can I have a P please, Bob?", Bullseye's "You can't beat a bit of Bully" and Robot Wars' "3...2...1... Activate!" alongside the hashtag #ChallengeAccepted, which serves as the channel's tagline. Bumpers framing breaks sometimes also include general knowledge questions or rebuses, referencing shows like Blockbusters and Catchphrase.

On Monday 1 June 2020, Challenge +1 was closed on all platforms.[22]


Challenge broadcasts gameshows from various decades and channels. Scheduling changes in 2015 onwards resulted in fewer gameshows being broadcast compared to previous decades. Examples of programmes currently shown on the channel are The Chase, Bullseye, Family Fortunes and Bruce's Price is Right.

Programming blocks

Challenge have had various programming blocks, for example, Fully Loaded!, a former morning programming block from around 2007 which consisted of Win, Lose or Draw, Wheel of Fortune, Catchphrase, Bullseye and Family Fortunes.

Other programming

Although the bulk of Challenge's schedule consists of game shows, the channel has also broadcast some other entertainment programming including the BBC blooper show Auntie's Bloomers from 2009 to 2011.[23] Challenge was the UK rights holder for TNA Wrestling, airing Impact Wrestling, TNA Xplosion and delayed coverage of pay-per-view events, alongside original home-produced output for the channel, including BWC: British Wrestling Round-Up, Wrestle Talk TV and the reality series TNA British Boot Camp. As of January 2017, the station no longer airs any wrestling programming.

A gaming review show, Videogame Nation, also aired on Saturday mornings (originally Sundays). In August 2014, Challenge aired its first coverage of championship darts - delayed broadcasts of the PDC Sydney Masters.

In 2005, Challenge broadcast several gambling-related programmes as part of their short lived "Player" block, such as the short lived CBS drama Dr. Vegas, along with the films Casino and Rounders.

On 12 November 2020, Challenge broadcast football for the first time when it showed the Northern Ireland v Slovakia UEFA Euro 2020 playoff final match.[24]

Irish station

A Irish feed of the station will be launched on Saorview on 1 February 2023.[25]


  1. "UK media group Flextech. (invests in UK Family Channel) (Brief Article)". Broadcasting & Cable. 7 June 1993. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2016 via Highbeam Research.
  2. "Flextech absorbs Family's U.K. assets. (Flextech PLC; International Family Entertainment Inc.)". Archived from the original on 5 November 2013.
  3. "Buy-up strategy covers all exits | Archive". Marketing Week. 5 April 1996. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  4. "International Family Entertainment Agrees To Consolidate The Family Channel Uk into Flextech Plc. - Free Online Library". 20 March 1996. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  5. "Family Channel hands relaunch task to TBWA | Archive". Marketing Week. 15 November 1996. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  6. The times newspaper and the Guardian newspaper October 1996
  7. "Family Channel". TV Live. Archived from the original on 29 January 2016.
  8. New-look "Challenge?" to go interactive May 20
  9. "Chips with everything". 16 May 2005.
  10. "Player's on-air identity revealed". Digital Spy. 28 February 2006.
  11. "Virgin to launch Challenge gaming channel". Digital Spy. 30 June 2008.
  12. "Virgin Media begins sale of its content operations". Media Week. 7 April 2009.
  13. "BSkyB and Virgin Media Complete Sale of VMtv". Virgin Media. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  14. "Acquisition of Challenge Jackpot database". NetPlay TV. 25 March 2010.
  15. Sweney, Mark (15 September 2010). "BSkyB to close Bravo and Channel One". Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  16. "BARB reported channels". 17 January 2011.
  17. Paul (26 January 2011). "Entertainment Interactive". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  18. "WWE News, TNA News, WWE Payback Results (6/1)". WrestlingNewsSource.Com. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  19. "Challenge TV launching on Freesat". Join Freesat. 1 December 2012.
  20. "Challenge and Pick get an exciting new look". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  21. "An Exciting New Look On". Challenge. Archived from the original on 9 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  22. "Hi Andy, the +1 channels are becoming a little redundant with things like Catch Up & On Demand now. The decision was made to close the channel on June 1st, but please bare[sic] in mind everything available on +1 will still be available to download. Apologies for any inconvenience. ^CL". @SkyHelpTeam. Twitter. 2 June 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  23. "Auntie's Bloomers - Part 1 (repeated 20/04/2009)" via
  24. "Sky Sports make Scotland and Northern Ireland Euro 2020 play-off finals available free-to-air". Sky Sports.
  25. "Challenge to launch on Saorview". 26 January 2023. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
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