Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media viewers are all about to see the return of the favored BBC channel


BBC Three will return to viewers on Freeview, Sky Q, Virgin TV and Freesat nationwide next month. BBC bosses decided to remove BBC Three from broadcast as early as 2016, with the channel branding surviving only with shows and documentaries broadcast via BBC iPlayer. Since then, the channel has enjoyed some smash hits, including the critically acclaimed Normal People (adapted from Sally Rooney’s novel of the same name), RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and the mock documentary comedy This Country, to name a few.

Since the decision to remove the channel from electronic program guides, or EPGs, six years ago, it has become apparent that shows on BBC Three could only be downloaded to your Sky Q or Virgin TV 360 box by using the on-demand catalogue search. The fact that BBC Three programs weren’t broadcast on a terrestrial channel meant they wouldn’t work with features like Series Link, which allow your Sky Q or Sky Glass to automatically record new entries in an ongoing series – so they’re always ready are you to see when it’s convenient. Viewers would have to specifically look for new additions to ongoing series broadcast on BBC Three, by navigating to separate BBC iPlayer apps on Sky or Virgin platforms, or regularly checking for new episodes.

Shows were streamed live on BBC iPlayer at set times as if they were being broadcast. For example, new episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK went live every week at 7pm. However, viewers did not necessarily watch the show at the same time, with some downloading the show, others beginning streaming immediately, and others watching later that same evening.

But that will soon change as BBC Three returns to the airwaves for the first time in six years. BBC Three airs every night of the week from 7pm and can be viewed on Freeview, Sky, Virgin and Freesat, as well as BBC iPlayer. The BBC has not yet announced the channel number for each platform. So stay tuned to find out how to jump into the channel when it returns on February 1st, 2022.

BBC Three is primarily aimed at younger viewers – one of the reasons Beeb believed younger viewers would like to watch on-demand rather than settling on fixed broadcast times. The channel has delivered a number of blockbuster hits for the BBC over the years, including the late Sean Lock’s critically acclaimed 15 Storeys High, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s award-winning hit Fleabag, This Country, Little Britain , which launched the careers of David Walliams and Matt Lucas, the cult comedy classic The Mighty Boost, People Just Do Nothing, Don’t Tell the Bride – which recently resurfaced on Netflix, and Gavin and Stacey. The latter was later promoted to BBC One and set viewership records when it returned for a Christmas special in 2019.

Fiona Campbell, Controller, BBC Three, said of the decision to bring BBC Three back in EPGs across the country: “We know how popular sport is with younger viewers and it will play a huge part in BBC Three. AFCON is going to be an incredibly exciting tournament featuring some of the best players in the world and it is brilliant news that we will be showing the culmination of the competition on free-to-air television.”

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