One of the joys of British television is the existence of minor channels. These differ from specialist channels such as Discovery (though we have those too) because they don’t have a particular focus. They exist, instead, to show programs that are expected to be less popular than would be required for the major channels.
This has several benefits. It allows a series that couldn’t make it to ‘the big leagues’ to still be seen by an appreciative audience. Some of these develop into very popular programmes that make it onto the major channels, and conversely they provide a safety net that means a poorly viewed program on the major channel can be shifted over rather than just cancelled (I found the cancellation of a perfectly decent series a real irritant in the US).
The benefit I’m enjoying right now, however, is space. The European Athletic Championships are going on in Sweden at the moment, and we get to enjoy 5.5 hours a day of coverage across BBC 1 and 2. Now I know that I could subscribe to something and get sport coming out of my ears, but for a relative cheapskate like me being able to watch excellent coverage of an exciting event (and for those of you who’ve only seen US coverage of athletics, you’ll have to take my word that the actual competition itself is often thrilling, and doesn’t require you to know that the US athlete’s mum once had a harrowing knitting accident) is a real pleasure.
Oh, and thanks to the overbearing nanny state, there are no ads either.