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Freeview interest spikes in wake of Virgin-UKTV spat

UKTV is said to be losing around £1m a week

Freeview has seen a record spike in audience interest following Virgin Media’s recent squabble with UKTV, as customers of the pay-TV service seek alternate ways to watch their favourite shows.

As the dispute enters its third week, UKTV is losing around £1m a week as its channels record a viewing slump of as much as a fifth, the Guardian reports.

On the Monday and Tuesday after UKTV’s channels were pulled, the prime-time audiences to Dave fell by 20 per cent, Gold by 22 per cent and Eden by 34 per cent.

Freeview, which offers UKTV’s five free channels Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday, is said to be preparing a TV advert and social media campaign to bring more Virgin Media customers to the free TV service.

Since the UKTV channel blackout on the 22nd of July, Freeview’s channel checker has seen its biggest rise in usage this year, with web traffic to the company’s “How to set up my Freeview TV” also trebling.

“This suggests Virgin Media customers were itching to continue to receive those UKTV channels which had fallen off their service,” a spokesman for Freeview said.

ITV recently sent a letter to Virgin Media with a threat that it could also pull its channels, which resulted in a deal being struck days later.