Hallmark UK will be rebranded as the Universal Channel this autumn, as part of NBC Universal’s ongoing multimilliondollar restructure.
The change has been a long time coming, with Broadcast first revealing the plan in June 2009. It had been slated for the second quarter of this year, but will now be unveiled on 18 October.
The Universal Channel will launch with a host of UK premieres, including original series Shattered, produced in partnership with E1 Entertainment; Facing Kate, co-produced by Universal Cable Productions and Universal Networks International; and global acquisition Rookie Blue.
Law & Order will remain on the channel.
Laurence Dawkin-Jones, UK managing director of Universal Networks International, said the rebrand would coincide with a push on fresh content alongside the best of the existing line-up, and that the Universal Channel name was “instantly recognisable and has an exceptional global heritage”.
“We know it will appeal to our existing fan base and a new audience who may not have previously been familiar with the brand.”
Hallmark Channel has already rebranded to Universal Channel in Australia and Africa. In the UK, Sci Fi became Syfy in April, launching the new-look channel with a reimagining of the 80s mini-series V.
BSkyB director of channels and operations Rob Webster said: “The channel occupies a distinctive place in UK pay-TV. With fresh impetus and wider appeal, this is good news for Sky customers.”