Sky One

Sky One is a British pay television channel operated and owned by Sky, a division of Comcast, available in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Sky One
Launched26 April 1982 (26 April 1982)
Owned bySky
Picture format2160p UHDTV
(downscaled to 1080i and 16:9 576i for the HDTV and SDTV feeds, respectively)
Audience share0.6%
0.02% (+1) (June 2019 (2019-06), BARB)
SloganAll The Good Stuff
CountryUnited Kingdom
Formerly called
  • Satellite Television (1982-84)
  • Sky Channel (1984-89)
  • Sky 1 (1996-97, 2008-2017)
Sister channel(s)Challenge,
Sky Two,
Sky Arts,
Sky Atlantic,
Sky Cinema,
Sky Crime,
Sky News,
Sky Sports,
Sky Sports F1,
Sky Sports Box Office,
Sky Sports News,
Sky Sports Racing,
Sky Witness,
Sky Comedy
Timeshift serviceSky One +1
SkyChannel 106 (HD)
Channel 121 (+1)
Channel 806 (SD)
On Demand
Virgin Media (UK)Channel 109 (HD)
Channel 110
On Demand
Virgin Media (Ireland)Channel 114 (SD)
Channel 143 (HD)
WightFibreChannel 9
TalkTalk TVChannel 301
Streaming media
Sky GoWatch live
Now TVWatch live
Virgin TV Anywhere (UK)Watch live (UK only)
Virgin TV Anywhere (Ireland)Watch live (Ireland only)

Sky One launched across Europe on 26 April 1982 by founder Connor Baskey as Satellite Television and is the oldest non-terrestrial TV channel in the United Kingdom. In the UK, the channel is available via digital satellite on Sky, digital cable on Virgin Media, IPTV on TalkTalk TV and online via Sky Go. In Ireland, the channel is available via Sky Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Eir Vision.

Sky One listings include some very popular broadcasts—many imported from North America—including 24, Battlestar Galactica, Bones, Caprica, Fringe, Glee, House, Lie to Me, Lost, Prison Break, The Simpsons, Stargate (SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe), Touch, WWE Raw, and You, Me and the Apocalypse.


Sky Channel/Sky One

Sky One started on 26 April 1982 as Satellite Television Ltd,[1] and was Europe's first ever cable and satellite channel, originally broadcasting from the Orbital Test Satellite aimed at cable operators all over the continent. At first the station struggled financially, due to disappointing ratings in the countries in which it was officially available, which in turn led to insufficient advertising revenue and increasing difficulty in covering the high transmission costs.

On 27 June 1983, the shareholders of Satellite Television agreed a £5 million offer to give News International 65% of the company.[2][3] Murdoch extended the broadcast hours and the number of countries the station broadcast to including the United Kingdom. On 16 January 1984, the channel was renamed Sky Channel.

Sky Channel incorporated a large number of American imports in its schedules, while also increased the quantity produced of home grown programmes, including a number of new music programmes with Gary Davies, Tony Blackburn, Linda de Mol, Pat Sharp, David "Kid" Jensen, and Anthea Turner presenting programmes such as Euro Top 40, and UK Top 50 Chart. New children's programmes like Fun Factory and The DJ Kat Show, many of which came not only from Sky's own studios in London (having already abandoned the Molinare facilities by then), but also included programmes produced in the Netherlands by John de Mol's production company.

On 8 June 1988, Murdoch announced his plans to expand Sky's service to four channels, thus creating the Sky Television network.[4] On 5 February 1989, the Sky Television Network (Sky Channel, Sky News, Sky Movies and Eurosport) was launched, At the same time, prime-time broadcasts to European cable operators ended, being replaced by Eurosport, a joint venture between Sky and the European Broadcasting Union, and aimed at a pan-European audience (like Sky Channel had been up to that point; for a time afterwards, some of Sky's previous pan-European programming continued to be broadcast before Eurosport's startup, under the branding of Sky Europe). Initially, a new raft of shows were created, for the channel including Jameson Tonight, Sale of the Century (based more off the 1980s American version), The Price Is Right, Frank Bough's World and Sky By Day,[5] Sky TV's variation on ITV's more popular This Morning, hosted by former BBC Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn (who had moved to commercial radio by then) and former Magpie presenter Jenny Hanley. The show had a mix of entertainment, gossip, fashion, etc. The Channel continued with the same children's programmes, soaps, and US action series, WWF Wrestling. On 31 July 1989, the channel was renamed Sky One and closed in most European countries, broadcasting to only the United Kingdom and Ireland.

In 1990, Sky One began to acquire more recent programming, an early success being Moonlighting, which the BBC had previously screened but not repeated. Sky One also picked new programming such as The Simpsons, 21 Jump Street and the last series of Falcon Crest, and following its merger with BSB's Galaxy, Parker Lewis Can't Lose.

Sky Multichannels era

After many years in the clear, on 1 September 1993, Sky One was encrypted as part of the new Sky Multichannels subscription package, and could no longer be viewed outside Britain and Ireland without exporting a box, or receiving it over cable (although it had already been encrypted for a while since its original launch and first went in the clear in around 1987). The channel also commissioned a number of home grown programmes while also expanding its Australian television series to include E Street, Chances and Paradise Beach. It continued to be the most-watched satellite channel in the UK and Ireland, a position it held for most of the 1990s, with many first-run US imports such as The Simpsons (which traditionally has been the channel's main selling-point, remaining a satellite exclusive until it finally made its terrestrial television appearance on BBC Two in 1996), Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld, ER and The X-Files, as well as some older programmes such as the various Star Trek series, Hill Street Blues, M*A*S*H*, and Lucille Ball's various comedy series.

The success of the channel led to the launch on 1 September 1996 of a companion channel, Sky 2; however, it was not a success and was closed down on 31 August 1997, one day short of a year after it launched. In contrast to the Sky Two that was later relaunched, this channel featured even more first-run programmes, and it broadcast only at night, between 7 pm and 6 am.

Recent years

In 2000, a dedicated feed of Sky One for Ireland was launched. For most of this Irish feed's existence, the only difference between it and the United Kingdom feed has been differing commercials and programme promotions. In June 2003, the channel started broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen.[6] However, all TV commercials were broadcast in 4:3 until November 2005, because they were played off the same servers for all Sky channels, many of which were not broadcast in widescreen.

On 21 September 2004, Sky One Mix was subsequently renamed Sky Mix. On 31 October 2005, Sky Mix was renamed as Sky Two with the launch of a second sister channel Sky Three.

On 25 August 2012, it was announced by Stuart Murphy, director of Sky entertainment channels, that a one-hour timeshift of Sky One, Sky Living and Sky Atlantic would launch in the Autumn of 2012,[7] with the former launching on 12 November 2012. The time shift channel offers most of Sky One's programming, however The Simpsons is not broadcast because BSkyB is prohibited from doing so under the current terms of their licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. An on-screen message instead appears redirecting viewers to Sky One.[8]. As of 2017, The Simpsons is available to watch on the timeshifted channel.

For New Year's Day 2014, Sky One was temporarily renamed to Sky Onesie "to encourage viewers to snuggle up in front of the television wearing onesies, in a bid to recover from the previous night's celebrations".

Since 2017 Sky One has broadcast some sports coverage. This includes a partial simulcast of Soccer Saturday, highlights of, and occasional live coverage of, Formula One motor racing and a few Premier League football matches were shown on the channel during the 2018/19 season. The summer of 2019 saw Sky One show highlights of the 2019 Cricket World Cup and live coverage of England's matches in the 2019 Netball World Cup.

Sky One HD

To coincide with the launch of Sky HD, Sky One HD began broadcasting on 22 May 2006. The channel is a simulcast of Sky One and screens high-definition versions of some of the channel's programming, which include Lost, Bones, 24, WWE Smackdown, Fringe, Prison Break, House, and most recently new episodes of The Simpsons. Programmes that are not available in HD are "upscaled" (although Sky One showed the widescreen film Malcolm in the Middle, unlike most US broadcasts, since the film was originally filmed on Panavision widescreen film but cropped to full-screen by most broadcasters. This airing of the original film preserves the film's appearance without stretching or upscaling, although some scenes were compromised for widescreen and had to be upscaled).

Sky have stated that they intend to increase the amount of HD content they show, and hoped that by the end of 2008, two-thirds of all prime time shows, and 90% of their own original commissions, would be in HD.[9] A new logo was introduced along with the rebrand on 31 August 2008.

On 1 October 2010, Sky One HD launched on Virgin Media channel 122, with Sky Two moving to channel 123 and Sky 3 (now Pick) moving to channel 180 on 22 September 2010, to make way for the new channel.[10]

Virgin Media dispute

On 1 March 2007, at midnight, Sky's basic channels, which included Sky One, Sky Two, Sky Three, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Travel and Sky Travel Extra were removed from the Virgin Media cable television services after a dispute between Virgin Media and BSkyB. This was due to the expiry of their previous carriage agreement and the companies' inability to reach a new deal.[11][12] Virgin issued legal proceedings against Sky over the dispute in April 2007.

The Virgin Media predecessor Telewest was involved in a similar situation in late 2004 when negotiations for renewed carriage of the Nickelodeon channels broke down. Telewest was unwilling to pay extra to keep the channels and preferred to simply drop them. Other Viacom owned channels remained such as MTV and the former Paramount Comedy 1. The reaction to this by customers was fairly large and many left the provider to rival Sky, others were retained as Telewest offered them a free upgrade to the Disney Channel for periods of between one and three months, others were reportedly offered upgrades to Sky Movies packages in a desperate attempt to keep them from leaving. The Nickelodeon channels returned to the Telewest platform on 12 February 2005 following successful renegotiations in Nickelodeon's favour.

At the beginning of March 2008, the two companies were reported to have resumed discussions over the dispute. Virgin chief executive Neil Berkett was reported as saying they had "continued interest in securing Sky basics back on our platform". The resumed talks had followed shortly after both Virgin and BSkyB had launched appeals against a recent Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling on BSkyB's 17.9% stake in ITV plc.[13][14]

On 4 November 2008, a carriage deal between BSkyB and Virgin Media channels was reached and BSkyB's channels were available on Virgin's cable service from 13 November 2008.[15][16] The Sky basic channels were spread across each tier of Virgin's cable TV service: Sky3 and Sky News were made available in the lowest M tier; Sky Sports News joined the M+ tier; Sky 1 and Sky 2 were made available in the L tier; and Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2 joined the XL tier.[16]


Most watched programmes

The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on Sky One, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 22 February 2015. The number of viewers does not include repeats.

Rank Show Episode Number of
1Friends6.01 – The One After Vegas2,860,00013 January 2000
2An Idiot Abroad2.01 – Desert Island2,659,00023 September 2011
32.07 – Climb Mount Fuji2,656,0004 November 2011
4Terry Pratchett's HogfatherPart One2,647,00017 December 2006
5Friends5.01 – The One After Ross Says Rachel2,410,0007 January 1999
65.15 – The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey2,320,00015 April 1999
7An Idiot Abroad2.08 – Karl Comes Home2,302,00011 November 2011
8The Simpsons17.15 – Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife2,301,00023 April 2006
9An Idiot Abroad3.03 – China2,260,00014 December 2012
102.04 – Whale Watching2,248,00014 October 2011

US programmes

Sky One relies heavily on screenings of American television programmes, with many coming from Murdoch's Fox network. The Simpsons has been airing on Sky One since both of its early years, making the series not only the longest-running programme on Sky One but also the longest-running primetime animated series to date. As many as five episodes of said show are broadcast each evening, with any new episodes generally being shown on Sunday.[17] Sky One has exclusive rights in the UK to show the most recent series of The Simpsons. Another early and long running fixture was Married... with Children, which ran all through the 1990s, but in the early 2000s, the show suddenly disappeared from its regular schedule and has not been screened on any Sky channel since.

Sky One was also the original home to the UK's first run showings of episodes of ER and Friends, for series 4–6 of both shows (Channel 4 had shown series 1–3 first), giving Sky One some of the highest ratings for any satellite channel. In 2000, 2.8 million viewers watched an episode of Friends, the highest rated show on any satellite channel. However, when Channel 4 launched their own digital sister channel E4 they outbid Sky One for exclusive first run rights to both shows. However, Sky One still held the repeat rights for the early series of both shows for several years. Since 2011, Friends has been shown on Comedy Central and Channel 5.[18]

Sky One previously broadcast WWE programming, before moving it all to Sky Sports. Sky One currently broadcasts an edited one hour version of WWE Raw on Sunday mornings.

Sky One occasionally screens older 20th Century Fox films such as Die Hard as part of its evening schedule (21st Century Fox formally owned a controlling minority stake in Sky) although they are shown with ad breaks, unlike films on premium film channels, for example Sky Cinema and its sister channels.

Programmes commissioned by Sky One

Sky has commissioned many homegrown programmers since it first started broadcasting back in 1984, but it was not until 1989 when content went beyond music and children reprogramming. During the early years new game shows including a few series of Blockbusters and Spellbound, along with Price is Right and Sale of the Century. Original drama Dream Team, a series based on a fictional football team; The Strangerers (a science fiction sitcom that was dropped after one series and never repeated); Al Murray's sitcom Time Gentlemen Please; and Baddiel's Syndrome. Hex, another sci-fi show, had proved popular but was cancelled in April 2006 and Mile High also proved quite popular but it only lasted from 2003–2005. Sky One commissioned Terry Pratchett's Hogfather for Christmas 2006 proving to be their most successful programme ever. Following the success of The Hogfather, Sky brought out in 2008 an adaptation of The Colour of Magic and its second half The Light Fantastic, and in 2010 Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, the 33rd book in The Discworld series. Sky also co-produced The 4400 and co-financed the first series of Battlestar Galactica.

It also screened many "reality" shows such as Cruise with Stelios, Road Wars, Shock Treatment, World's Deadliest Gangs, Pineapple Dance Studios, World of Pain, Road Raja, Ibiza Uncovered, Cirque de Celebrité and Hairspray: The School Musical. It also has received success with entertainment science shows Brainiac: Science Abuse and spin-offs, Brainiac: History Abuse and Brainiac's Test Tube Baby and also Mission Implausible. Less successful shows include Harry Enfield's Brand Spanking New Show.

Sky One have also commissioned a number of game shows including Blockbusters. The most recent game show was from Mark Burnett, Are You Smarter Than a 10-Year-Old, based on a United States format. On 30 January 2008, Sky One announced plans to bring back the UK 1990s game show Gladiators which was subsequently cancelled in 2009.[19]

In 2010, Sky One also commissioned several new comedies including A League of Their Own, An Idiot Abroad and Little Crackers.

From 2011, Sky One has premiered several new comedy series including the supermarket sitcom Trollied, which had broadcast six series and over fifty episodes, becoming Sky One's longest running comedy series. Parents, another series, was broadcast in 2012 and was not well received, forcing Sky not to commission it for a second series. Moone Boy, a series written by and starring Chris O'Dowd first screened in 2012, became an instant hit internationally. It lasted three series, and ended in 2015.

Continuity announcers

Absolute Radio DJ Claire Sturgess has been a "voice" of Sky One since 1998, and was the sole announcer from 2001 until 2005. As one of Sky One's four announcers, her voice-overs are pre-recorded once a week and played out by an automated system.

Live continuity announcements air each evening. In 2009, they were voiced by announcers Dave Kelly, Faye Bamford and Philippa Collins. In 2010, three new continuity announcers were hired, Katie Morton, Katie Hudson and Paul Daniels, replacing all the previous announcers. In 2011, two new part-time announcers were hired.[20] During the day, pre-recorded announcements air, promoting shows from all the different Sky channels.[21]



  1. "Broadband Cable 10th Anniversary". TinyPic. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  2. News International buys 65% of satellite group. By Bill Johnstone, Electronics Correspondent. The Times, Wednesday, 29 June 1983; pg. 13
  3. Title The franchise affair: creating fortunes and failures in independent televisionAuthors Asa Briggs, Joanna SpicerEdition illustratedPublisher century, 1986Original from the University of MichiganDigitized 9 Oct 2006ISBN 0712612017, 9780712612012
  4. The £199 dish that will launch a television revolution. by Richard Evans Media Editor. The Times, Thursday, 9 June 1988
  5. From Sunday, you'll never say there's…. Advert The Times (London, England), Friday, 3 February 1989; pg12
  6. Jay, Alan (2 May 2003). "Sky confirms expansion of widescreen broadcasting". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
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  10. "Sky1 HD to launch on VM on Friday". TheAirwaves. 28 September 2010. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011.
  11. Welsh, James (1 March 2007). "Sky One, Sky News pulled from Virgin". Digital Spy.
  12. "BSkyB channels taken off Virgin". BBC News. 1 March 2007.
  13. Robinson, James (2 March 2008). "Virgin in talks to resolve dispute over Sky channels". The Guardian. London.
  14. West, Dave (3 March 2008). "'Talks resume' over Sky carriage dispute". Digital Spy.
  15. Welsh, James (4 November 2008). "Sky1, Sky News back on Virgin cable". Digital Spy.
  16. Goss, Patrick (4 November 2008). "Sky1 returns to Virgin Media". TechRadar.
  17. Munn, Patrick (15 December 2016). "Sky1 Sets UK Premiere Date For 'The Simpsons' Season 28 - TVWise". TVWise. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  18. Szalai, Georg. "'Friends' to Stay on Comedy Central UK". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  19. Holmwood, Leigh (30 January 2008). "Sky One to bring back 90s favourite Gladiators". The Guardian. London.
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