UKTV is taking its entertainment channel W free-to-air on Freeview and video-on-demand as it hopes to significantly increase audience reach for the entertainment channel.
W will launch on 28 March in Freeview and Freesat and will be made available on UKTV Play. The channel was already available to Sky and Virgin Media subscribers.
The female-skewing channel (previously known as Watch) has grown its profile in recent years with original commissions fronted by the broadcasters Emma Willis and Stacey Dooley. It is also the exclusive home to the MasterChef franchise internationally, with shows including MasterChef Australia, MasterChef USA and MasterChef Juniors.
However, the channel has generally struggled to gain an average audience share above 0.5%, according to latest BARB data for January 2022. Fellow UKTV stations Dave, Drama, and Yesterday, which are available on Freeview, tend to get an average audience share between 0.8% and 1.3%.
The switch now leaves Gold, Alibi and Eden as UKTV’s remaining channels on pay TV.
W is also rebranding and repositioning itself as “the home of genuine human moments: UKTV said, and will lead with the tagline, “Life Unfiltered” to connect with its female skewing 25-44 target audience.
Steve North, UKTV’s genre general manager for comedy and entertainment, said, “We are confident that we’ve spotted a gap in the free-to-air market for W to fill; providing premium entertainment for people with busy lives who want to engage with shows that shine a spotlight on personal stories from everyday lives.”