FilmOn founder Alki David has unveiled a new service which he claims allows the UK public to watch any free-to-air satellite TV channel legally, without the need for a contract or a set-top box.
The service – available free via FilmOn.com – enables viewers to connect directly to a broadcaster’s satellite and digital over-the-air feeds via their PC or smartphone. Viewers can then watch the channel of their choice live and for free (including channels from mainstream broadcasters in the UK such as ITV, BBC, and Channel 4).
According to David, all viewers need to do is simply go to FilmOn.com via the web or any of its apps and choose what they want to watch. “Viewers then receive content via their own unique satellite dish or micro antenna which is assigned to them when they connect to any one of our many European, American, Middle Eastern and soon-to-be-launched Asian antenna farms,” he explained.
“This is a game-changer because it gives consumers a great new way to access content which is already freely available to them in their geographical area,” he added.
David points out that FilmOn has updated its technology to ensure it is fully compliant with a recent European Court of Justice ruling that prohibits the retransmission of certain TV channels. Rather than offer a retransmission, FilmOn – through its Swiss-based subsidiary (FilmOn X) – lets viewers control their own unique dish or micro digital antenna in order to tune into the broadcaster’s own transmission to view it in its original format.
Users can also purchase these antennas which are delivered to their home and can be connected to their device by WiFi.
FilmOn says it will respect a broadcaster’s control over where their content is available by ensuring the service respects international boundaries where they are already in force, and unlike services such as Aereo in New York, is happy to pay broadcasters. “FilmOn has already secured several contracts with major national broadcasters across the world, whom we are providing royalties to,” he says. “This represents a watershed moment in the history of Internet and satellite television because we are protecting viewer freedom whilst at the same time we are also respecting the rights of copyright holders.”
According to the company, the new service paves the way for more revenue-sharing deals with broadcasters, with FilmOn suggesting it can supply them with detailed analytics about audience behaviour (which are supplied anonymously in order to protect privacy).
FilmOn offers a similar service in the USA, where it operates in 42 local TV markets across the country.