|Launched||1 September 1993|
|Owned by||Living TV Group (1993–2010)|
|Picture format||16:9 576i SDTV|
|Audience share||0.51% (22 March 2020BARB),|
|Formerly called||The Family Channel (1993–97)|
Challenge TV (1997–02)
|Sister channel(s)||Crime & Investigation|
Sky History 2
Sky Sports Box Office
Sky Sports F1
Sky Sports News
Sky Sports Racing
|Astra 2E||11836 H 27500 5/6|
|Virgin Media (UK)||Channel 164|
|Virgin Media (Ireland)||Channel 157|
|Sky Go||Watch live (UK and Ireland only)|
The channel was originally launched 1 September 1993 as The Family Channel, a British version of the American cable network of the same name, owned by U.S. firm International Family Entertainment, a spin-off of the Christian Broadcasting Network's cable network The Family Channel, and this channel was shared with Children's Channel. Earlier in the year, IFE had acquired the assets of the defunct ITV franchise TVS for US$68.5 million (which included the MTM Enterprises library, and The Maidstone Studios). In June 1993, prior to its launch, IFE sold a 39% stake in the channel to Flextech. The Family Channel did produce some UK original programming, 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, giving them full ownership of the venture and production studio in Maidstone. 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 relaunch the channel as The Challenge Channel 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 relaunch 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. Instead, The Family Channel began transitioning to the new brand by introducing a weekend game show strand known as Family Challenge Weekend.
On 3 February 1997, The Family Channel rebranded 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.
On 7 April 2009, Virgin Media, the then current owner, formally began the sale of its content operation. On 13 July 2010, Sky and Virgin Media announced that Sky had completed the acquisition of Virgin Media Television (VMtv) following regulatory approval in the Republic of Ireland.
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.
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.
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, which serves as the channel's tagline. Bumpers framing breaks sometimes also include general knowledge questions or rebuses, referencing shows like Blockbusters and Catchphrase.
In 2004, a one hour timeshift simulcast of Challenge launched on Sky channel 122, eventually being launched on NTL in between 2004 and 2006 and on Freesat on March 11, 2015. However, on 1 June 2020, Challenge +1 closed permanently on all platforms.[better source needed]
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.
Although the bulk of Challenge's schedule consists of game shows, the channel has also broadcast some other entertainment programming including the BBC blooper show Auntie's Bloomers from 2009 to 2011. Challenge was 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, the station no longer airs any wrestling 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.