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Plug pulled on 5Prime launch

Channel 5 has pulled the plug on the relaunch of its catch-up channel 5Prime, which was due to go on air later this month.

Now, just as finalised listings for the new channel were due to be supplied to TV guides, it has been confirmed that the channel has been put on hold until the spring, with the broadcaster rethinking the new channel's strategy, look and even going as far as ditching the name.

5Prime was due to offer a mixture of premium factual and drama series in place of the linear catch-up service My5. Months earlier, Viacom had announced that it would be launching a premium free-to-air UK version of the Paramount Channel.

The new channel was due to go live on the 16th January 2018 and feature first-run originals alongside programming from Channel 5 and spin-offs of its most popular programmes. It was due to show programmes including Ben Fogle: New Lives in The Wild and GPs: Behind Closed Doors and brand-new commissions like The Secret Life of Owls. 5Prime was also due to be the UK home of RTÉ show Striking Out.

It's the latest chapter in what has been a turbulent history for the channel currently known as My5. In 2013, the channel launched a placeholder on Freeview under the pre-launch name of 5Later - a service designed to mirror the success of Channel 4's linear catch-up channel 4seven. By the time the channel launched in 2014, it had become Channel 5+24, with different daytime schedules on satellite and cable services compared to Freeview, before a 24 hour timeshifted broadcast of Channel 5 programming from 7pm.  In August 2016, Channel 5+24 was replaced by My5, sharing the same name and branding as Channel 5's online catch-up and on-demand service.

Limited slots for new service
Viacom has only got a limited number premium slots on Freeview to launch or rebrand a service. On Freeview, it currently offers Channel 5 and Channel 5 HD on slots available to over 98% of households using bandwidth available to the main broadcasters to broadcast on both primary and relay transmitters.

Channel 5+1, 5USA, 5STAR, 5SPIKE and My5 utilise capacity on Freeview multiplexes that just over 90% of households can receive. Timeshift channels 5STAR+1, 5USA+1 and music channel VIVA (UK) take capacity on reduced coverage multiplexes that reach around 75% of UK households and are dependent on viewers using newer DVB-T2 Freeview receivers that are compatible with Freeview HD or Freeview Play.

On Sky, a spring launch for whatever the new channel will be known as, would put the channel on-air just as Sky revamps its Electronic Programme Guide, which will result in numerous entertainment, lifestyle and factual channels moving to new channel numbers.

Not the latest a channel has been pulled
5Prime's predicament, just two weeks before it was due to go on-air pale in comparison to the launch of Discovery Network's first UK free-to-air channel Quest in 2009. On the day of the launch - 14th May 2009 - the first viewers knew about the failure to launch was at 10am, the originally scheduled launch time, when the screen returned to displaying a coming soon message. The channel eventually launched at the end of September 2009.