A new era in Australian free-to-air TV begins today with the launch of FreeviewPlus, the new service that provides access to more content and services from the Freeview networks.
Freeview Plus is seen by many in the Free to Air TV industry as the best method of competing with Piracy and upcoming SVoD services such as Foxtel Play, StreamCo and Netflix. It was first expected to launch in May, but has been repeatedly delayed due to technical difficulties and disagreements with content rights holders. Tired of waiting SBS launched its own version of the service last month.
At the core of FreeviewPlus is a broadband-delivered free-to-air TV electronic program guide incorporating features that offer Australian consumers the most advanced, user-friendly free-to-air EPG experience.
FreeviewPlus also delivers the Freeview networks’ Catch Up services from one place on TV screens for the first time. Access to Catch Up and other services is easy, with viewers simply using the coloured buttons on their remote.
“We are thrilled to launch FreeviewPlus today, a world-first TV service for Australia that will provide viewers with a whole new way to enjoy free-to-air TV,” Liz Ross, General Manager of Freeview, said.
“It is also a significant and exciting milestone in the history of television in this country, coming as the result of unprecedented collaboration among the Freeview networks, as well as other key stakeholders including developers, manufacturers and retailers,” she said.
Freeview has today confirmed Sony and LG as the manufacturers releasing a range of FreeviewPlus TV's and receivers available from today, these will be available from appliance and electronics retailers including Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, Myer, Bing Lee, Dick Smith and David Jones.
One of the biggest hurdles FreeviewPlus will face is the fact the significantly high percentage of SmartTV's sold are never connected to the internet.
To support the arrival of FreeviewPlus, Freeview is also undertaking a large-scale marketing push, which includes the biggest TV campaign since Freeview was launched almost six years ago.
Also launching today is a new Freeview website, with information about how to get FreeviewPlus, what FreeviewPlus receivers are available, a video on how to use the new service, and a facility that enables viewers to easily check what services are available in their area.
The FreeviewPlus service uses hybrid TV technology (HBB), which seamlessly combines broadband and broadcast TV. The technology also enables the free-to-air networks to introduce a range of new broadband services.
FreeviewPlus will offer an array of new features including:
A 7-day, easy-to-use EPG
Access to available free-to-air Catch Up services in one place on the TV
Recommendations of the best programs on today, on Catch Up and in the future
The ability to browse and search programs across the next 7 days
A favourites function that keeps track of programs on live and Catch Up TV
“FreeviewPlus has been built to deliver Australians the best free-to-air TV experience in the world, allowing viewers to find and watch their favourite shows when they want to watch them on their TV with the simple press of a button,” Ms Ross said.
FreeviewPlus will be available through an increasing number of new connected receivers carrying the FreeviewPlus logo including panel TVs, set top boxes and recording devices, which will be in stores between now and Christmas.