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(Pocket-lint) - 20 years ago today Sky pressed the button that effectively doubled the number of channels available to telly addicts in the UK. Today the company allows you to watch programmes on your computer and even on your mobile phone, so to celebrate the company's 20th birthday here are five facts to spout down the pub:

Changing TV

Before Sky we had four channels - now we have hundreds, but when the satellite service launched on 5 February 1989 it only brought an extra four channels to the mix beyond BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4. Customers keen to experience the "future of television" got a dedicated movie channel, Eurosport, Sky News and an entertainment based Sky channel which later became Sky 1. Although struggling to keep up with the BBC iPlayer for online viewing, it was the biggest provider of HD content in 2008 offering 5500 hours to Sky plus HD subscribers.

"It's a whole new ball game"

2 years after the launch of the satellite service in the UK, Sky launched its first dedicated Sky Sports channel. A year later and Sky began its exclusive live coverage of the FA Premier League. The move, which brought in masses of new customers meant that 3 years after the launch the service started to make money rather than lose it for the first time. Sky Sports has shown over 5000 football games since.

Music to my ears

"I want my MTV" but strangely Sky users had to wait 5 years after the launch to get MTV in the UK. Finally launching in 1994 it allowed people to watch Take That and Whigfield. There are now 33 music channels and 88 Radio Channels including MTVN HD.

Square eyes

In 2001 Sky launched Sky plus effectively changing the way we watch television, so no more missing the end bit, and the chance to skip through ads. Because of the ability to watch what we want to watch, when we want to watch it, we now, not surprisingly, consume a lot more television according to Sky. It says that Sky plus customers watch 6.6 billion programmes each year from their Sky plus planners. That's a lot of TV.


Already planning for the next generation of TV, Sky has started toying with 3D broadcasts. Although no confirmation dates have been set, the broadcaster thinks we will be able to watch 3D TV in our homes by the time the London Olympic Games start.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 5 February 2009.