Britain’s major public-service broadcasters (PSBs) will launch a free, Internet-only TV service next year for broadband-only homes. The new service, called Freely, will be built into the next generation of smart TVs in the UK upon its launch in 2024 and will feature a lineup of PSB content and other free-to-air channels with the aim of building upon the Freeview TV viewing experience and platform. This marks the first time that British viewers will be able to browse and watch live TV channels together with on-demand content streamed to their smart TVs via the Internet for free. Their aim with Freely is to enable viewers to “seamlessly” browse channels through a “modern and intuitive” programme guide and use functions that are designed to make it easier to find and explore new shows directly from live TV.
The Big Merge
EveryoneTV rebranded from Digital UK in January, having merged with Freesat in 2021 to bring the UK’s two free-to-view TV services now under the leadership of one organisation. Freeview, which allows people to receive digital TV transmissions via analogue aerials, was launched in 2002 as a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and Sky and expanded the platform for a wider selection of channels and, therefore, content for the viewer. Through this merger, it represents how viewing habits have evolved and the desire to consume a broad selection of content has increased with the times, coinciding with all the various platforms and offerings from providers.
The Evolution of Content Consumption
By first having the traditional 5 channels on terrestrial TV, then expanding the landscape via the Freeview merger up to 70, the choice in which viewers have had has been as big as it’s ever been (at a free cost standpoint), not to mention SVOD services add to this landscape with the likes of Netflix, Disney+, Prime, to name a few. With this on-demand viewing experience, able to watch content at any time away from live TV, viewing will shift from live to online and possibly offer more in-depth targeting capabilities as we already have on BVOD suppliers with ITVX, All4, and Sky Go. While details are still to follow, with the launch coming sometime in 2024, this represents how the landscape has evolved and will only continue to evolve.