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Industry group Freeview today announced it will be launching a new FreeviewPlus mobile application for access to all of the free-to-air networks’ live streaming and catch up content later this year.
While details on new app are still limited, the app promises to merge the content from all Free to Air networks onto one platform. It’s a product that Freeview has been promising for some time.
Freeview will also invest in upgrading FreeviewPlus which will allow viewers access to a wider range of features and functionality, the details of which will be announced later this year.
Freeview is hoping the new app will improve discoverabilty of FTA content by having programming from all networks indexed in one app experience, rather than content silos such as tenplay, iview and 7Plus.
The industry is facing increasing pressure from the online sector, particularly SVOD provider's including Netflix.
Freeview CEO, Liz Ross, said she was delighted that the strength of collaboration across the FTA broadcasters around the program had also influenced the decision by SBS to re-join Freeview.
“We have an exciting year ahead in free-to-air television and the spirit of progress and collaboration will deliver some significant innovations in 2016,” Ross said. “We’re especially glad to welcome SBS back to the Freeview family.”
“It’s clear that consumers are in charge of their viewing and they want the flexibility to watch what they want, when they want, on the best available screen at the time even when out of home,” Ross said. “Freeview has responded to changing viewing habits and we are excited about the FreeviewPlus multi-screen future,” Ross said.
Freeview also announced the appointment of Clive Dickens as its new Chairman. Seven West Media Chief Digital Officer Clive Dickens replaces inaugural Freeview Chairman Kim Dalton who has stepped down after seven years in the role.
“We would like to thank Kim for his vision and energy in the role,” incoming Chairman Dickens said. “Under his stewardship, Freeview has launched the award-winning hybrid TV service FreeviewPlus delivering Australian audiences the best in FTA TV technology.
“This year will continue to be one of collaboration and innovation for Freeview leading with FreeviewPlus mobile product and we look forward to announcing even more exciting IP initiatives in the coming months,” Dickens said.
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After months of delays and infighting between broadcasters, FreeviewPlus will officially launch on Tuesday, September 2.
Freeview Plus is seen by many in the Free to Air TV industry as the best method of competing with upcoming VoD services such as Foxtel Play 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 will offer Australian consumers an unrivalled viewing experience.
FreeviewPlus will deliver a user-friendly free-to-air EPG experience, with Catch Up services accessed from one place on TV screens.
The FreeviewPlus service uses hybrid TV technology (HBB), which combines broadband and broadcast TV. The technology will enable the free-to-air networks to introduce a range of new broadband services including Catch Up TV, more multichannel services and many other services via the coloured buttons on the remote.
Many viewers in regional Australia will miss out on the benefits of Freeview Plus after Prime and Win Television opted out of the Freeview consortium.
FreeviewPlus features included:
- A 7-day, easy-to-use EPG
- Access to available FTA Catch Up TV in one place on the TV Recommendations of the best programs on today, on Catch Up and in the future
- 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
While Freeview Plus is currently only available on a limited range of Panasonic Smart TV’s, Manufacturers are expected to release a range of FreeviewPlus receivers to coincide with the launch, and these will be available from all major appliance and electronics retailers.
FreeviewPlus will be made available through an increasing number of new connected receivers carrying the FreeviewPlus logo including panel TVs, set top boxes and recording devices.
“FreeviewPlus is one of the most important advances in free-to-air television in Australia since the introduction of digital TV so it’s important we start to generate a buzz about the new service among Australian viewers,” Liz Ross, General Manager of Freeview, said.
“FreeviewPlus is all about giving Australians the best FTA TV experience, 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.