UK subscription-free digital satellite TV service Freesat has announced what it describes as “a good start” to 2014, adding 18,000 homes, suggesting that budget-conscious consumers are switching away from expensive pay-TV packages.
Freesat, which celebrates the sixth anniversary of its launch this week, is now available in 1.84 million households, and is watched by more than 3.8 million viewers every week. During the quarter, the big hits with the Freesat audience included the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Call the Midwife, Gogglebox, Mr Selfridge and Sherlock.
Freesat says its continuing growth demonstrates the strong appeal of premium TV on a subscription-free basis. With a Freesat box, viewers have access to over 200+ TV and radio channels, more than with any other free-to-air provider.
Freesat’s connected TV service Freetime has consistently delivered strong growth since its launch in 2012. The latest quarterly figures highlight that it now accounts for 41 per cent of all
Freesat set top box sales, and sales of Freetime boxes more than doubled year-on year. The service offers access to On Demand players, and allows viewers to pause and rewind live programmes and roll-back the TV guide to watch shows from the past seven days.
During the quarter, Freesat also announced a landmark partnership with Panasonic, which means that Freetime is the preferred TV guide in the new range of VIERA TVs, now on sale in the UK. For the first time ever the benefits of Freetime are available to both Freeview and Freesat viewers. In addition, Freesat agreed a partnership with Vestel, the global TV manufacturer, which will see Freetime included on a wide range of televisions and set top boxes, including those sold by supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Tesco and catalogue merchant Argos. Vestel is also the biggest volume supplier to UK retail outlets John Lewis and Dixons.
Demand for Freesat’s mobile app has been strong, with total downloads of over 200,000 since launching just over 100 days ago. The app works as a remote control, acts as a guide to what’s on TV, and lets viewers set recordings remotely. The app was recommended as a ‘Best New App’ on Apple’s App Store.
Emma Scott, Freesat’s Managing Director, noted that Freesat’s strong 2013 momentum had continued into the first quarter of 2014. “Free TV has never been so vibrant or compelling. TV fans are switching on to our Freetime service and switching away from pay-TV and the expensive contracts that go with it. I’m proud to see that Freetime has been adopted by leading television manufacturers such as Panasonic and Vestel, demonstrating that Freesat remains at the forefront of the connected TV market. The huge popularity of our award winning mobile app shows that Freesat matches anything available from pay-TV companies.”