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UK free-to-air digital satellite platform Freesat has reported strong growth in the twelve months to March 30th 2017, with 904,000 devices sold – an increase of 90 per cent year on year – benefiting from the continuing popularity of smart and UHD televisions.
Freesat’s customer base continues to thrive with 58,000 new homes added over the course of the financial year. This brings the total number of Freesat homes to over two million, as increasing numbers of customers look to cancel their expensive pay-TV contracts in favour of Freesat’s flexible, subscription-free offering, which includes over 200 free channels, on-demand services and optional paid-for add-ons, such as Netflix, Curzon Home Cinema and Hopster.
Consumer awareness is reported to be at its highest in four years after a successful advertising campaign focusing on customer testimonials. According to a YouGov poll in February, Freesat’s customer satisfaction levels of 91 per cent were found to be the highest amongst TV providers. This followed a campaign highlighting the extensive product offering and service which pay customers are surprised to receive from a free service. This high quality of service is delivered through Freesat’s commitment to reinvesting profits back in the business, allowing it to continually expand into new products and services without locking customers into lengthy deals. In addition, clearer communications in retail, packaging and on the website aims to reassure switching customers that free-to-air options offer much better value than pay.
Partnerships with Samsung and LG contributed to strong sales figures as a result of the continuing popularity of 4K and Smart TVs. Freesat also launched a new zapper device with Humax with the same premium look as its recorder range and which comes with built-in wifi.
In 2016, a number of new channels and services joined the platform to give Freesat customers an even greater range of viewing options. This includes video-on-demand services STV Player and Wuaki, which provides the latest films on a pay-as-you-watch basis, as well as new channels Blaze, True Crime, Talking Pictures and 4Music. Freesat is in discussions with a number of other partners to further strengthen the roster of channels over the coming year.
The Freesat app has been downloaded over 800,000 times since it was first launched in 2014, and can be used as a remote control, to set recordings remotely, or to plan viewing through the TV Guide. In March the app was adapted for Android users, with a new TV Guide interface for an easily-accessible customer experience.
Freesat continues to develop additional revenue streams which will facilitate ongoing innovation in the service. In August 2016, Freesat launched its audience measurement platform, in partnership with TVbeat, the real-time TV audience attribution company, which covers all its connected services. The platform has taken on its first commercial customers, including QVC UK, as channel partners take advantage of the insights the data provides, which enables more strategic decision making in terms of scheduling and programming.
Freesat’s international business, Metaphor, is focused on developing opportunities overseas through its projects with global partners, with agreements expected in the second half of the year. As an example, Freesat is developing Saorview Connect for RTÉ in Ireland, and is working with other new platforms to expand their connected TV services.
“We’re delighted with the success of 2016 which saw us surpass a milestone figure of two million Freesat homes,” declared Alistair Thom, Freesat’s managing director, said. “Our increase in customer numbers is testament to the great service we offer: a viable alternative to expensive, pay TV services which offers customers a huge range of flexible and diverse content.”
“Freesat aims to provide an array of brilliant free content and the latest TV services to our viewers. As more and more channel partners see the value in subscription free TV, Freesat will continue to expand its content offering to bring customers a huge choice of programming, both free and pay. The user experience will also evolve as Freesat focuses on making it easier for customers to find the programmes they want to watch.”