Following the announcement November 2013 that it would be launching a hybrid broadcast broadband service, Australian digital terrestrial platform Freeview has unveiled the key features of its FreeviewPlus service which will provide access to content and services from the free-to air networks.
FreeviewPlus aims to deliver the most advanced, user-friendly free-to-air EPG experience, with catch-up services accessed from one place on TV screens for the first time.
“FreeviewPlus is one of the most important advances in free-to-air television in Australia since the introduction of digital TV,” said Liz Ross, General Manager of Freeview. “In just a few months, Australian TV viewers will be able to access and enjoy a very sophisticated and yet easy-to-use free-to-air TV service.”
The FreeviewPlus service uses hybrid TV technology, which seamlessly combines broadband and broadcast TV. The technology will also enable the free-to-air networks to introduce a range of new broadband services.
FreeviewPlus will offer a range of new features including:
Freeview is planning an extensive marketing campaign which will support retailers and manufacturers and drive consumer awareness of FreeviewPlus. FreeviewPlus will be available through new connected receivers carrying the FreeviewPlus logo including panel TVs, set top boxes and recording devices. Manufacturers will release a range of FreeviewPlus receivers to coincide with the launch of FreeviewPlus and these will be available from all major appliance and electronics retailers.
“Last year, live free-to-air TV reached an audience of 15.2 million Australians daily, and a quarter of all Internet-connected consumers watched catch-up TV,” said Ross. “We expect that with the launch of FreeviewPlus, Australians will continue their love of FTA TV as more and more viewers watch their favourite shows when they want to watch them on their TV with the simple press of a button.” she declared.
Freeview Australia – which comprises free-to-air licensees Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Special Broadcasting Service, Seven Network, Nine Network, Network Ten, Prime Media Group and Southern Cross Broadcasting – announced July 2013 that it was working with the local FTA networks and TV manufacturers on a co-ordinated launch of Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV), the major new pan-European initiative aimed at harmonising the broadcast and broadband delivery of entertainment to the end consumer through connected TVs and set-top boxes.
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, sees its existence in a connected TV future as separate from YouView.