Channel 2 spinoff web will launch in May

LONDON — The U.K.’s fast-growing digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, has received another boost with the news that one of Blighty’s most successful niche channels is to bow on the service.

E4 — the Channel 4 spinoff web heavily reliant on U.S. imports like “Friends,” “The OC” and “Desperate Housewives” — will launch on Freeview in May to coincide with the new run of “Big Brother,” C4’s most commercially important show.

E4 will still be available on paybox Sky Digital and cable, but will no longer receive any subscription revenues from the services.

It’s a gamble for C4 CEO Andy Duncan, who was one of the architects of Freeview’s success in his former job as the BBC’s marketing topper.

He has calculated the loss in subscription revenue will be outweighed by the ad coin generated from E4 being available in the 5 million homes that have Freeview.

“Freeview is still growing fast, and we’re forecasting an uplift in ratings and advertising revenues, which we expect to exceed lost subscription revenues,” he said.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more