Digital UK – the body supports the UK’s terrestrial TV service and its viewers – and DTT platform Freeview have announced that Panasonic will be the first manufacturer to launch TVs featuring the Freeview Play connected TV service. The news follows the recent announcement of Freeview Play as the brand for the service as part of a major Freeview rebrand in preparation for the launch of the new TV offer.
Panasonic will make Freeview Play available in its new 2015 line-up of VIERA TVs. Channel 5’s Demand 5 service will also join the platform – completing the launch line-up of catch-up players alongside BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD.
Freeview Play combines catch-up TV, on-demand services and live television. The service will be free from subscription and compatible with existing broadband services. Viewers will be able to search for programmes via a scroll back function in the TV guide or a dedicated apps page.
Ilse Howling, Managing Director, Connected TV at Digital UK, said it was “great news” that Panasonic would be the first of many to bring TVs with Freeview Play to viewers. “I’m also pleased that Demand 5 will be joining our line-up of great, free, on-demand players. Digital UK is working closely with manufacturers and broadcasters to develop our exciting new service and bring the benefits of connected TV to everyone, free from subscription,” she confirmed.
Guy North, Managing Director of Freeview, said the platform believed that Freeview Play would put viewers back in control. “Freeview Play will be integrated into a number of TVs in the new VIERA range, giving people the freedom to choose across a range of price points. We look forward to welcoming more products from other partners later this year,” he added.
Panasonic plans to offer Freeview Play recorders at a later date. Multi-brand manufacturer Vestel will follow with a range of Freeview Play products.
Howling has refuted suggestions that Freeview Play risks losing market advantage to on-demand platform YouView, with which it shares common investors, such as the BBC and ITV, with Sony announcing a summer 2015 launch of YouView on its range of 2015 BRAVIA TVs.