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Industry News

Published on June 11th, 2018 | by The GC Team

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Broadcasters collaborate to secure future of free-to-view TV

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and network operator Arqiva – Digital UK’s four shareholders – have announced a new five-year agreement to accelerate Freeview’s transition to a fully hybrid platform, with a combined investment of over £125 million to secure the future of free-to-view live and on-demand TV.

The collaboration builds on the success of Freeview Play, which claims the position of UK market leader in free-to-view connected TV with more than 3.5 million products sold in the UK since the service’s 2015 launch.

Freeview Play gives UK viewers a seamless combination of live and on-demand content in one place with no monthly subscription.

Digital UK will lead on implementing the new strategy, focusing on product development and working closely with sister organisation Freeview on a refreshed marketing approach and brand positioning.

Key areas of development will include:

  • A new mobile app enabling viewers to access live and on-demand content on a range of smartphones and tablets, launching later this year
  • Restart functionality allowing viewers switching on mid-way through a programme to watch from the start using catch-up links built into the Freeview Play TV guide
  • Improved navigation through voice search and further evolution of the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) on televisions

Digital UK said the agreement to invest in developing Freeview as a fully hybrid platform reflects the continuing strength of linear TV but also the growth of on-demand viewing. Ofcom recently highlighted challenges created by new players such as Netflix and Amazon, calling for more industry collaboration to maintain the prominence of Public Service Broadcasting content on connected TV interfaces.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK, said: “As the UK’s TV landscape becomes increasingly impacted by global players, this new commitment from our shareholders is a major boost for UK viewers. Building on this spirit of collaboration, we will not only safeguard free-to-view TV but reinvent it for a new age of viewing.”       

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