Challenge (TV channel)

Launched 1 September 1993 (1993-09-01)
Owned by Sky plc
Picture format 16:9, 4:3, 576i (SDTV)
Audience share 0.41%
0.03% (+1) (August 2016 (2016-08), BARB)
Country United Kingdom
Formerly called The Family Channel (1993–97)
Challenge TV (1997–2002)
Challenge (2002–present)
Sister channel(s) Pick,
Real Lives,
Sky 1,
Sky 2,
Sky Arts,
Sky Atlantic,
Sky Cinema,
Sky Cinema Box Office,
Sky Living,
Sky News,
Sky Sports,
Sky Sports F1,
Sky Sports News HQ
Timeshift service Challenge +1
Freeview Channel 46
Freesat Channel 146
Channel 147 (+1)
Sky Channel 145
Channel 164 (+1)
Astra 2E 12304 H 27500 2/3
Virgin Media
Channel 139
Channel 180 (+1)
WightFibre Channel 73
Channel 86 (+1)
Virgin Media Ireland Channel 157
Freewire Channel 125

Challenge is a British digital television channel owned by Sky plc. The channel mostly transmits game shows from the UK and around the world, with some original productions.


The Family Channel UK

The channel was originally established as The Family Channel, a British localisation of the American cable network of the same name, owned by U.S. firm International Family Entertainment, officially launched 1 September 1993.

The British version of The Family Channel came about when TVS was sold on 1 February 1993 to the American Company International Family Entertainment Inc. for US$68.5 million, which included the ownership of MTM Enterprises. 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 (see below), 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.


Flextech planned to re-launch the channel as Challenge 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 re-launch 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 3 February 1997, The Family Channel re-branded as Challenge TV, devoting the majority of its lineup to game shows. The channel was originally a primetime block from 17:00 to 00:30 and shared its channel slot with The Children's Channel (which closed on 3 April 1998) and TV Travel Shop until 1999, which resulted in Challenge being able to broadcast 24 hours a day. From 3 February 1997 to the end of 1998, between 00:30 and 06:00, the channel was branded as "Family Late", which continued to air its previous entertainment programming.

Sky takeover

On 7 April 2009, Virgin Media, the then current owner, formally began the sale of its content operation.[8] On 13 July 2010, Sky and Virgin Media announced that Sky has completed the acquisition of Virgin Media Television (VMtv) following regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland.[9]

On 15 September 2010, Sky announced a number of its sister channels Bravo, Bravo 2 and Channel One, were closed, which resulted in a small number of programmes being moved. On 25 January 2011, it was confirmed that Total Nonstop Action Wrestling programming would start broadcasting on Challenge from 3 February 2011.[10]

On 1 February 2011, Challenge replaced Channel One's Freeview space on the Freeview multiplex,[11][12][13][13][14]

Challenge launched on the free-to-air satellite platform Freesat on 3 December 2012.[15]

On 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.[16][17]

On 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. Bumpers framing breaks sometimes also include general knowledge questions or rebuses, referencing shows like Blockbusters and Catchphrase.

Additional information

The channel also aired some poker game shows including World Poker Tour, Celebrity Blackjack and Casino Casino. It also launched a very short-lived spin-off channel in 2006, Player (which was replaced just several months later by Bravo 2), which mainly focused on the poker-related programming that Challenge had transmitted. Challenge only aired programmes in the letterbox format (4:3), but on 3 June 2008, it switched to the widescreen format (16:9) along with all other Living TV Group channels. This was coupled with a revamped logo and a new set of idents. The channel used to have interactive features for digital cable and satellite viewers watching certain shows, enabling them to play along at home, and it used to offer many games and competitions before the start of each programme, during commercial breaks and after the end of each programme.


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 also broadcasts some other entertainment programming. Challenge is 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, however, they will no longer be broadcasting any TNA 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.


  • Toby Anstis (2000–02) – presented iPlay and Game Central
  • Andrea Boardman (1997–98) – first appeared in the Family Challenge Weekend; the channel's first female presenter
  • Ian Collins (1997–99?)
  • Andy Crane (1996–98) – first appeared in the Family Challenge Weekend strand; went on to present Prize Time in 1997; he also presented Say the Word the same year
  • Kevin Duala (1997–2001) – presented both Prize Time and The Games Room
  • Kieron Elliott (2001–02)
  • Yvette Fielding (1997–2002) - contributed to weekend in-vision continuity and hosted Karaoke Challenge

Continuity announcers


  1. "UK media group Flextech. (invests in UK Family Channel) (Brief Article)". Broadcasting & Cable. 7 June 1993. Retrieved 13 January 2016 via Highbeam Research.
  2. "Flextech absorbs Family's U.K. assets. (Flextech PLC; International Family Entertainment Inc.)".
  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.
  8. "Virgin Media begins sale of its content operations". Media Week. 7 April 2009.
  9. "BSkyB and Virgin Media Complete Sale of VMtv". Virgin Media. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  10. "WWE News, TNA News, WWE Payback Results (6/1)". WrestlingNewsSource.Com. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  11. Sweney, Mark (15 September 2010). "BSkyB to close Bravo and Channel One". Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  12. "BARB reported channels". 17 January 2011.
  13. 1 2 "TNA set for Freeview". The Sun. 25 January 2011.
  14. Paul (26 January 2011). "Entertainment Interactive". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  15. "Challenge TV launching on Freesat". Join Freesat. 1 December 2012.
  16. "Challenge and Pick get an exciting new look". Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  17. "An Exciting New Look On". Challenge. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
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