Digital UK has confirmed the signing of major contracts to build and test a new Freeview-branded connected TV service.
Following a competitive selection process, Arqiva has been awarded the contract to provide the metadata system at the heart of the new service. It will enable viewers to move seamlessly between live programmes and on-demand shows using Freeview’s new ‘backwards EPG’. This will include content from the Public Service Broadcast services (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD) with further content providers to be confirmed in due course. The service will be built by Arqiva’s recently launched Connected Solutions business, following the merger of Capablue with Arqiva’s existing hybrid TV operation.
Digital UK also announced it is making the technical specification for the new service available to manufacturers and content providers.
Arrangements for testing connected Freeview products have also been agreed. Contracts have been signed with the UK’s leading television platform and device testing specialists Digital TV Labs and DTG Testing. The companies will develop test materials and test suites which will ensure the quality and compatibility of products and services. Work is also advancing with a range of technical development partners, including television and digital receiver manufacturers.
The news follows the announcement in June 2014 that Digital UK and Freeview would develop and launch a connected TV proposition. Digital UK is leading on technical development of the new product while Freeview will lead on launching and marketing the service to viewers. The new service will be built into a range of TVs and set top boxes available from retailers. Having purchased their equipment, viewers will be able to watch live and on demand programmes via an aerial and their current broadband provider without being tied to a contract. The name of the new service and launch timing is to be confirmed at a later date.
Ilse Howling, Managing Director, Connected TV at Digital UK said: “These agreements are a crucial step on the road to giving millions of Freeview viewers the freedom to watch what they want, when they want. We are delighted with the progress we are making and the levels of interest from manufacturers, retailers and viewers. We look forward to working with Arqiva and our other partners who together will play a vital role in bringing the next generation of Freeview products to life.”
Charles Constable, Managing Director of Digital Platforms at Arqiva, said the company was committed to ensuring Freeview remained a strong and competitive player in the changing TV landscape. “The metadata system we are developing will form the backbone of the new platform and sustain its value for years to come,” he declared.
Digital UK has contracted DTG Testing to create a product test suite for receivers for the next generation of Freeview as a connected TV service. The test suite will be used to ensure that trademark licensees meet the technical specifications of the platform and deliver an enhanced viewing experience.