UK subscription-free satellite TV service Freesat has announced strong quarterly results with the addition of 24,000 new homes in the three months to the end of December 2014. After adding 56,000 homes over the course of the year, Freesat is now available in over 1.9 million households and is watched by more than four million viewers every week.
In what it describes as a “fiercely-competitive” market, Freesat says its continuing growth demonstrates the strong appeal of free-to-view television. Popular programmes such as The X Factor (ITV) and Call the Midwife (BBC One), or more recently the critically acclaimed Wolf Hall (BBC Two), continue to draw viewers to free to view.
Freesat notes that analysis of BARB data reveals that in December 2014 the top 500 most watched programmes across all platforms were all free-to-view. Freesat viewers can access more than 200 television and radio channels without paying a monthly fee, and optional top-up services ensure viewers have freedom of choice. The latest additions include Hopster, a dedicated on-demand pay player for children’s entertainment.
Sales benefited from a fall in the price of Freesat products, while competitors pushed through price rises for their monthly subscriptions. Freesat supported this shift with a marketing campaign aimed at highlighting the value offered by the service.
Freetime, Freesat’s award-winning connected television service, continues to grow and accounted for almost 50 per cent of all Freesat set-top box sales in the last quarter. Freetime allows viewers to roll back the TV guide to watch shows from the past seven days, pause, record and rewind live programmes, and access all the major Catch Up players.
Demand for the Freesat mobile app, launched in January 2014, was strong, and total downloads are now approaching 500,000. The recent launch of the Kindle Fire version of the app in December helped to attract new audiences to Freesat. The Freesat app, also available on iOS and Android, acts as both a guide and a remote control, enabling viewers to browse shows and record them remotely. Identifying remote record functionality as a highly valued product feature, Freesat recently expanded the offering allowing users to set recordings via emails, social networks and banners on the Freesat website.
Alistair Thom, Freesat’s recently-appointed Managing Director, said it was exciting to become MD at a time when it was celebrating such a strong final quarter of sales, the recent expansion of remote record and soaring downloads of the app. “Although the UK television market has never been more competitive, Freesat’s commitment to delivering a great experience through easy to use technology has enabled our persistent growth. With exciting new premières coming soon including Indian Summers on Channel 4 and The Casual Vacancy on BBC One, our plans for 2015 will ensure that our customers continue to get the very best out of free to view TV,” he declared.