BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Arqiva invest £125MN to secure future of UK free-to-view TV | VOD | News | Rapid TV News
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Recognising the growing threat of SVOD in the country, the UK’s leading broadcast companies have signed a new five-year agreement to accelerate the transition of the Freeview DTT service to a fully hybrid platform.
Freeview 11June2018
Acting with and network operator Arqiva, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 — who go to make up the four shareholders of Digital UK–– will invest £125 million over the next five years to build on the success of Freeview Play, claimed to be the UK market leader in free-to-view connected TV. Since launch in 2015, more than three-and-a-half million Freeview Play products have been sold in the UK from brands including Panasonic, LG, Sony, and Toshiba, accounting for 60% of smart TV sales.

The service gives UK viewers a combination of live and on-demand content with no monthly subscription. Since 2016 Freeview has grown its overall base of main sets by over a million homes to 11.4 million and around 19 million UK homes watch Freeview on either the main or a secondary set.

Digital UK says that 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. In particular, helping it better face-off the challenges created by the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

It assured that it would 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. It added that the new investment will help Freeview exploit the trend towards cord-cutting as viewers build their own skinny bundles combining free-to-view TV with low-cost streaming services.

Alongside the ongoing support for the Freeview platform, new developments will include a mobile app and improvements in content discoverability and navigation.
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 in 2018 and a 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. The company also says that here will be improved navigation through voice search, and further evolution of the Freeview EPG on TV sets.

Commenting on the investment, Digital UK CEO Jonathan Thompson, 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.”