Advanced Television

UK PSB streamer Freely launches

April 30, 2024

By Colin Mann

Everyone TV – the organisation leading the evolution of free TV in the UK – has confirmed the launch of its new streaming service Freely. Backed by PSBs BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, Freely is available through the next generation of smart TVs now on sale in stores and online.

Its backers suggest that Freely will futureproof live TV for the streaming age. For the first time, audiences can stream live TV channels alongside on demand content for free via their smart TVs, removing the need for a dish or aerial. Featuring world-first innovations for free TV, viewers can switch seamlessly between live and on demand content from the UK’s leading broadcasters.

The new service marks the first time all four of Britain’s public service broadcasters have come together to launch a streaming proposition, signalling the beginning of a journey to secure the future of free TV through collaboration.

“The launch of Freely is a historic moment for UK television,” declared Kieran Clifton, Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development. “Collaboration between the UK PSBs is critical to connecting and protecting all audiences as we transition towards the streaming era – and delivering live TV over broadband for free is a ground-breaking innovation that will futureproof public service broadcasting.”

“The success and impact of programmes like ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office shows the importance of UK PSBs and ITV is proud to be part of this exciting new chapter for free TV in this country with Freely,” added Martin Goswami, ITV Group Strategic Partnerships and Distribution Director. “Bringing live streamed channels and on demand content together in Freely gives viewers the opportunity to access the very best in British content as easily as possible, from live and recent programmes to a wealth of on-demand options.”

“Freely will deliver the best of Britain’s world-leading public service content seamlessly and for free,” commented Grace Boswood, Technology & Distribution Director, Channel 4. “It further supports Channel 4’s Fast Forward strategy as we accelerate our transformation into the streaming age, ensuring our trusted, brand-safe content is available to everyone.”

“We’re delighted to be part of Freely, which will ensure UK audiences can continue to easily discover and enjoy original, high quality British programmes from Channel 5 and the other public service broadcasters – live and on-demand, for free,” said James Tatam, SVP Business & Revenue for Channel 5.

Everyone TV has confirmed that STV and S4C will also bring their channels and on demand content to Freely, via broadband. STV and S4C are free-to-air public service broadcasters for Scotland and Wales respectively, whose content can be viewed across the UK.

“We are proud to be able to bring Welsh language programming to a new audience on Freely,” remarked Elin Morris S4C’s Chief Operating Officer. “We’ll be able to showcase the creativity and talent that we have in Wales in to homes across the UK. Viewers will be able to watch documentaries, drama, news and sport live and on-demand.”

Hisense, previously announced as the first Freely smart TV partner, is now bringing Freely TVs to market. TVs will be available in stores across the UK and online at retailers such as Currys, Argos, AO and Very.

It has also been confirmed that TiVo, a subsidiary of Xperi., will be offering Freely as part of its TiVo OS platform. Freely will run on smart TVs powered by TiVo, providing consumers with choice and a simple navigation to discover content quickly and efficiently without the burden of walled gardens. Initially Freely will be available via Vestel smart TVs Powered by TiVo. Vestel was previously announced as a Freely smart TV partner, with Vestel Freely TVs due to launch in the coming weeks.

“Xperi is dedicated to delivering an extraordinary entertainment experience that is more intuitive, immersive and personal,” stated Gabriel Cosgrave, general manager of EMEA, Xperi. “By integrating Freely into the TiVo OS platform, we are empowering UK audiences to navigate content without constraints and unlocking more personalised options, quickly and seamlessly, inclusive of public service broadcaster’s content.”

The user interface for Freely was unveiled earlier in 2024, with new features which bring the free TV experience into the streaming age. For the first time for free, viewers will be able to switch seamlessly between live and on demand TV from leading UK broadcasters, taking advantage of features such as pause, restart and access to more episodes, without having to pay for the service. Freely TVs can also be placed anywhere in the home where there’s a Wi-Fi connection, removing the need for a dish or aerial. Freely ensures all audiences continue to have easy access to an aggregated free TV experience, however they choose to connect.

More details around Freely will be announced in the coming weeks, including additional smart TV, operating system and content partners.

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