Sky Arts 1 and 2 to merge into “super channel”

The broadcaster will make the change on June 9th

Sky has announced it’s dropping one of its two arts channels from June 9th, replacing it with a single “super channel” higher up the electronic programme guide and with a bigger budget.

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The company will merge current channels Sky Arts 1 and 2 in the relaunch, combining the best content from each on a new Sky Arts platform, alongside a new on-demand service that will offer over 1000 hours of dedicated content.

It’s hoped an overall spending increase of 10 per cent combined with a jump from page four to three of the Sky programme guide will increase viewer numbers and reduce repeats.

The news comes just days after Sky announced the scrapping of its 3D channel, which will be moving online only from June. 

Sky Arts 1 has previously shown original dramas such as The Young Doctor’s Notebook (Daniel Radcliffe) alongside its rock and pop output, whereas Sky Arts 2 has generally been dominated by opera and classical music. It’s not been disclosed how much of the programming will get the chop when the two channels merge in six weeks’ time.

The brand has served as a proving ground in the past for British talent wishing to experiment. Matt Smith directed for the first time on Playhouse Presents… (a series of self-contained plays), and only last month the service announced a series of silent comedies featuring Frank Skinner and Johnny Vegas.

As well as the ‘relaunch’, Sky has unveiled what it’s calling its “most ambitious programming line-up to date”, which includes a ‘Sex Season’ in which radio DJ Edith Bowman will seek to uncover the best songs for would-be lovers.

Also lined up are Guitar Star, a new reality show attempting to find the best guitar hero in the country, and Hot Tickets, which will televise live arts performances from venues up and down the country.

There will also be new dramas from home-grown stars Stephen Mangan, Idris Elba and Rhys Ifans.

Sky Arts director Phillip Edgar Jones isn’t fazed by the shakeup, he said, “With our new on demand service alongside what we think is the strongest line-up of programmes yet, we think the new look Sky Arts will genuinely offer something for everyone.”

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Sky Arts moves to channel 121 on 9th June 2015