‘Sad loss’ TV fans cry as beloved sports channel announces closure THIS WEEK after seven years of broadcasting


SPORTS fans are being forced to wave goodbye to Viaplay Xtra as the channel axes its broadcast on Sky and Virgin Media after seven years.

Viaplay Xtra – previously known as Freesports – will disappear from telly boxes from January 25, 2024.


The upcoming closure of Viaplay Xtra is expected to “leave a void” in the semi-free sports broadcasting sphereCredit: Alamy

The announcement marks the end of an era for Viaplay Xtra or Freesports, which roamed the airwaves with free sports coverage for nearly a decade.

Viaplay Xtra. is currently beamed into around 18million homes in the UK.

The channel has covered more than 1000 sporting events a year across association football, combat sports, ice hockey, tennis, rugby league, rugby union, basketball, cricket, and snooker.

Viaplay Xtra or Freesports used to be widely accessible on Freeview, Freesat and the pay-TV platforms, as well as online.

And viewers rarely had to pay an extra penny – an increasing rarity in the world of televised sports.

However, Freesports was removed from Freesat in 2020 and then axed from Freeview in 2022.

The closure forms part of the Viaplay Group’s departure from the UK, whereby all three of its channels will be returned back to Premier Sports branding.

Embattled Viaplay bought Premier Sports, along with its suite of sports rights, in 2022.

This meant the Premier Sports 1, Premier Sports 2 and Freesports channels were rebranded under the Viaplay moniker.

The upcoming closure of Viaplay Xtra is expected to “leave a void” in the semi-free sports broadcasting sphere.

Although, it is largely hoped that Premier Sports will fill that again.

“As of next Thursday the former Freesports channel will no longer be on Sky…. sad loss of a channel that picked up random cricket that no one else wanted….sail well,” one disappointed viewer wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Another tweeted: “That’s a shame. I liked the rugby league.”

While a third noted: “The disappearance of the free British sports channel (for Sky and Virgin Media subscribers) Viaplay Xtra could leave a void for the ‘free’ broadcast of rarer sports.”