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Originally scheduled for launch in the first half of 2014, but delayed as a result of technical issues, Australian DTT platform Freeview has finally launched its FreeviewPlus HbbTV service.
In what Freeview describes as a new era in Australian free-to-air TV, the new service will provides access to more content and services from the Freeview networks.
At the core of FreeviewPlus is a broadband-delivered free-to-air TV electronic programme guide incorporating features that is claimed to offer Australian consumers the most advanced, user-friendly free-to-air EPG experience.
FreeviewPlus also delivers the Freeview networks’ Catch Up services from one place on TV screens for the first time.
“We are thrilled to launch FreeviewPlus today, a world-first TV service for Australia that will provide viewers with a whole new way to enjoy free-to-air TV,” said Liz Ross, General Manager of Freeview. “It is also a significant and exciting milestone in the history of television in this country, coming as the result of unprecedented collaboration among the Freeview networks, as well as other key stakeholders including developers, manufacturers and retailers,” she said.
Freeview confirmed that major brands Sony and LG are among the manufacturers releasing a range of FreeviewPlus receivers, and these will be available from appliance and electronics retailers including Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, Myer, Bing Lee, Dick Smith and David Jones.
To support the arrival of FreeviewPlus, Freeview is also undertaking a large-scale marketing push, which includes the biggest TV campaign since Freeview was launched almost six years ago.
Also launching is a new Freeview website, with information about how to get FreeviewPlus, what FreeviewPlus receivers are available, a video on how to use the new service, and a facility that enables viewers to easily check what services are available in their area.
“FreeviewPlus has been built to deliver Australians the best free-to-air TV experience in the world, allowing viewers to find and watch their favourite shows when they want to watch them on their TV with the simple press of a button,” advised Ross.
FreeviewPlus will be available through an increasing number of new connected receivers carrying the FreeviewPlus logo including panel TVs, set top boxes and recording devices, which will be in stores between now and Christmas.
The Australian approach differs from its UK counterparts Freeview and YouView, with the latter developing its own proprietary open IPTV platform distinct from the more widely accepted HbbTV standard, while Freeview, despite sharing common shareholders in the BBC and ITV, together with Digital UK, the company provides support for the platform, recently 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 effectively pitches it against YouView.