UK subscription-free TV service Freeview and Digital UK – the company that manages the development and strategy of DTT and supports viewers – have confirmed that the new Freeview Play connected TV service, the next generation of the UK’s biggest TV platform, will launch in October. Panasonic televisions will be the first to introduce the service and in the lead-up to October existing compatible TVs will update automatically.
Freeview Play combines catch-up TV from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, on-demand services and live television, bringing the ability to watch what you want, when you want, as easily as possible, to the mass market. The service is free from subscription and works with all existing broadband services. Freeview will also be unveiling a new TV advertising campaign to support the launch.
Freeview Play will launch on Panasonic’s new 2015 line-up of VIERA TVs and viewers will be able to scroll back through the TV guide for programmes on catch-up or access on-demand programming through the apps page.
Following the TV launch, Panasonic will also be introducing a full range of video products equipped with Freeview Play, including three Blu-ray recorders and two digital recorders. In addition, Humax will launch Freeview Play digital recorders, Manhattan TV and Vestel will also launch ranges of Freeview Play products, and other major TV manufacturers will follow.
Digital UK and Freeview announced plans to launch Freeview Play in 2014. Since then, Ilse Howling, Managing Director, Connected TV at Digital UK, has led a dedicated team to develop the product specification for the new service.
Digital UK has worked closely with broadcast infrastructure specialist Arqiva to build the technical system required to support Freeview Play. Freeview will focus on marketing the new service to viewers through its biggest ever advertising campaign.
Guy North, Managing Director of Freeview, said: “We believe that Freeview Play is set to become the new normal way of watching TV. Viewers will be free to choose what they watch and when they watch it on their main set free from subscription.”
Caroline Thomson, Chair of Digital UK, described the launch of Freeview Play as “a landmark moment” for UK television. “Our aim is to make watching the best free broadcast and catch up TV easy for everyone. It’s testament to the work of Ilse Howling, Guy North and their teams, as well as the many partners across our industry, that we are bringing Freeview Play to market with a service that makes watching your favourite TV so simple.”
Andrew Denham, Managing Director, Panasonic UK, said: “By teaming up with Freeview Play, we are bringing better television to homes across the UK. Our partnership means that we can not only provide outstanding picture quality, but a much wider selection of programmes and viewing flexibility to Panasonic customers in the UK.”