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35 years of Sky TV - a brief history

Today, marks the 35th anniversary of Sky Television in the UK. Their launch on 5th February 1989 was a significant turning point for viewers in the UK and revolutionised the way audiences were able to consume content.

Cutting-edge technology

Prior to Sky’s conception, British television was dominated by terrestrial channels including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. With very limited choices for the viewers, they were subject to the scheduled programming with very little flexibility in terms of what, how and when they could watch their favourite shows. Sky’s aim was to change this narrative with their cutting-edge technology.

By beaming signals from satellites directly into homes, Sky offered the public an unprecedented variety of channels and programming options.

This shift from the traditional terrestrial transmission allowed for better picture quality and a broader array of content, catering to diverse tastes and interests.

Sky channels at launch

Compared to their extensive offerings today, Sky’s initial channel line-up was modest and included just four channels:

  • An upgraded version of the original Sky Channel which was renamed Sky One, five months later

  • Eurosport, a joint venture between the European Broadcasting Union and News International

  • Sky Movies, a film channel which became a subscription service the following year

  • Sky News, a 24-hour news and current affairs channel

The original offering included channels that quickly became household names, such as Sky One and Sky News.

These channels not only brought popular American shows to British audiences but also introduced homegrown content, which helped to contribute to the blossoming of British television production.

Sky's impact extended beyond the diversity of channels. The introduction of the Sky satellite dish became an iconic symbol of the company's presence in households across the nation. The distinctive Sky dish on rooftops signified a departure from the traditional rooftop antennas, representing a technological shift that mirrored the changing times.

Diverse Portfolio


Over the past 35 years, Sky has continued to evolve and expand its offerings. The company diversified its portfolio with the launch of premium channels, such as Sky Movies and Sky Sports, solidifying its position as a major player in the television industry. Exclusive broadcasting rights for sporting events further propelled Sky into the forefront, attracting sports enthusiasts and expanding its subscriber base.


SKY TV Today

35 years on from their launch day, Sky Television now offers over 130 channels, from event TV to true passion points. Boasting the largest channel portfolio in the UK, there really is something for everyone.

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