Public Service Broadcasters Combine For New Live Over Internet Service
PSBs move forward in the streaming era.
The Addition is an award-winning, reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Free TV in the UK is upgrading itself for the streaming era. On Monday, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 announced a new combined service called Freely. It will deliver live TV and on-demand content from public service broadcasters via the Internet for free. (You need to have a TV license, of course.) The service will launch in 2024 and be built into the next generation of smart TVs.
Freely is being delivered by Everyone TV, a company jointly owned by the broadcasters. Its chief executive Jonathan Thompson said:
We are delighted to be working with the public service broadcasters on the next phase of free TV’s evolution. This new development is a reflection of the fact that a growing number of UK viewers are watching content online, but still want easy access to the shared experience of live TV.
Our aim is to ensure that all viewers have access to a free, aggregated live TV experience that champions British content and is delivered in a way that suits audience needs and preferences. Every one of us should be able to share in the best of British ideas and creativity on TV.
It is not replacing the iPlayer or its clunky rivals. Instead, it is a modern version of Freeview, the UK’s digital terrestrial platform, and sounds like a really sensible step forward. Smart TVs already have some inbuilt content and channels - Samsung sets have something called Samsung TV Plus, for instance. However, a lot of what is available is, frankly, rubbish and it is not a great user experience.
The launch should also be a win for cord-cutters who might want to channel surf in a conventional way instead of jumping between apps.
[Below the line - my take on live TV and whether this will work.]
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Addition to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.