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UK DTT platform Freeview and Digital UK, the company provides support for the platform, have revealed plans to develop a new Freeview-branded connected TV service which will make the best of broadcast and on-demand TV available free for everyone. The initiative pitches it against IPTV service YouView, with which it shares a number of common shareholders, who late March 2014 confirmed their further commitment for a five-year term.
Freeview and Digital UK’s shareholders are backing the five-year plan to support the development and marketing of a connected TV proposition.
The new offer will give viewers easy access to both broadcast and on-demand TV, including a range of popular catch-up players.
Ilse Howling, previously Managing Director of Freeview, has been appointed to the role of Managing Director, Connected TV at Digital UK and will lead a new dedicated team to develop the product specification for the new service working in close co-operation with manufacturers and industry bodies and based on open standards.
Freeview’s former Marketing Communications Director, Guy North, has taken over the role as Managing Director of Freeview and will lead the team responsible for TV advertising and marketing campaigns for the Freeview brand and product portfolio.
The aim will be for manufacturers to launch a new range of connected Freeview HD televisions and boxes which consumers will be able to buy in store. People will be able to watch the service via their TV aerial and current broadband provider without being tied to a contract.
Details on launch timing and a brand name for the new service are to be confirmed.
Howling said she was delighted to be joining Digital UK to lead development of the new connected service. “The company is well placed to develop the next generation specification and work with the supply chain to support a new, mass market service to make connected TV available free, for everyone,” she stated.
North said Freeview was at the heart of the nation’s viewing and he was proud to be leading the company into the next chapter of its history. “People know and love the Freeview brand and will trust us to help them enjoy watching catch-up and on-demand TV in the future, alongside the high quality channels that Freeview already offers,” he predicted.
Jonathan Thompson, Chief Executive of Digital UK, said that digital terrestrial television was a great success story of British broadcasting and plays a vital role in the overall health of its TV sector. “This announcement marks a critical step in the next stage of the platform’s development, ensuring that it will remain as relevant, important and valued by viewers in the future as it is today,” he declared.
The companies’ shareholders confirmed their investment in a joint statement: “We are delighted to be supporting the Freeview platform to develop and market a Freeview-branded connected TV service which will bring catch-up television to a mass market and give viewers even more choice in how they access TV programmes.”
In addition to Freeview shareholders the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva, telco ISPs BT and TalkTalk and commercial broadcaster Channel 5 are partners in YouView. BSkyB is a shareholder in Freeview.
Digital UK is owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva.