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Freeview 2024?

The announcement yesterday from Digital UK about the future of Freeview is intriguing. What does it mean for the future* of free television in the UK?

What does this mean?  Photograph: Wikimedia commons
What does this mean? Photograph: Wikimedia commons
published on UK Free TV

 

Combining free-to-view TV with low-cost streaming services

Yes, you did read it right, it did say

“exploit the trend towards ‘cord cutting’ as viewers build their own ‘skinny bundles’”

in a BBC/ITV/Channel 4 press release. In the UK context, “cord cutting” must mean “not subscribing to a Sky or Virgin Media TV subscription”, which to be fair can be expensive, perhaps a thousand pound a year.

The low-cost streaming services are :

  • Netflix from £6 a month
  • Amazon Prime, £8 a month (£79/year) but includes Amazon next-day-delivery
  • YouTube, free (for now)

The need to highlight the above streaming services is that as the speed of internet connections has risen, the ability to reliably provide domestically and professionally usable video services has been reached. 

In the old days, you might have been able to order a DVD online and have it posted to you.   Later it was possible to download a video and watch it later.   Then came the time of on-demand promise, and buffering.

Today, almost all UK homes can watch streamed online video without interruption, often on more than one set at a time.    Over this time, the above services (and others, of course) have made themselves available on everything from the cheapest smartphone to the highest of high end televisions.

In the same time, the device that once did what a television did has morphed from a desktop computer with a VDU into mobile devices to fit any hand size from infant to giant, laptops and tablet computers are harder to distinguish for one another.  That a device is technically a television and technically can be connected to aerial or dish to watch live broadcasts of numbered channels is not foremost in the mind of purchasers.

 

What needs to happen

First, the public service broadcasters need to merge their offerings into a single Freeview app.  This means rather than having four apps, four websites, four Freesat apps and so on, just have a single point of entry for all their channels: a single app you can use on Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS and on set-top boxes.

Secondly, the system needs to be able to provide access to live TV streams, but also be able to rewind (“watch from the start”) or switch to a on-demand version of a show being repeated.

Thirdly, the system needs to work better with modern technology.    Amazon Prime video users can watch and navigate content by talking to Alexa, with a Google Home you can control YouTube streaming to a Chromecast.  To survive, Freeview must match these functions.

 

Why this might not work?

The above seems like a great start, but it might not be enough.

There is the obvious point that Netflix, Amazon and Google (owners of YouTube) are some of the biggest companies in the world edging their way to being trillion-dollar (£750 billion) companies. 

 

If you – somehow – took the BBC and ITV plc and Channel 4 and rolled them all together (say, £13.5 billion), you would have still only have one seventh of a Netflix, a forty-fifth of an Amazon or a fifty-second of an Apple.

It saddens me to say this, but in this game, £25m a year is too little, too late.  

What do you think?   It Netflix, Amazon and Youtube the unstoppable future?  

 


* “Trying to predict the future is a mug’s game. But increasingly it’s a game we all have to play because the world is changing so fast and we need to have some sort of idea of what the future’s actually going to be like because we are going to have to live there, probably next week.”



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In this section
New Freeview Mobile App Launching in January 20191
Broadcasters collaborate to secure future of free-to-view TV 2
BBC Local Radio on Freeview 3
Will the World Radiocommunication Conference be the death of Freeview?4
New and improved Freeview radiation patterns5
ITV4 now on Freeview Light transmitters: retune needed for all Freeview homes6

Comments
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
M
MikeB
4:27 PM

michael scott: You will either have to stream or use Sky Q for 4K, but its good your getting actual fibre. If you want to switch back from Sky Q, remember that the LNBs for Q are different from Freesat, so you might have to replace them.

Your TV is in many ways already a combo. It will stream for you, will have DVB-T2 as standard, may well have Freesat (sometimes two tuners for each), and you can record to is (although a sperate box makes life a bit easier), and is of course networked.

link to this
MikeB's 2,556 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Saturday, 29 September 2018
W
Willie Bone
11:32 AM

MikeP: I live in the sticks of Dumfries & Galloway with no landline broadband services, relying on 4G wireless broadband in the home with a recently installed 4G aerial, located high up on an outside wall at the rear of the cottage! The aerial has stabilised signal speeds well above the 30mbps threshold to allow 4k tv to stream!
Even though, 4G wireless subscriptions are not cheap, it has been a god send to me and the family, even allowing 4G reception for digital radio with fantastic choice and great sound quality!

The Scottish government target of 100% broadband coverage for all by 2022 is a very tough target to meet! However, if the target is not met, it will be nearly achieved with the help of outside aerials on the roof of countryside dwellers!

link to this
Willie Bone's 33 posts Bronze Bronze GB
Sunday, 30 September 2018
MikeP
11:03 AM

Willie Bone:

Why address your comments to me? I have not commented on 4G usage as it is poorly available in many areas and especially rural areas in England and Wales. That Scotland are doing something is a positive step forward.



link to this
MikeP's 2,480 posts Platinum Platinum GB
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
J
John
9:30 PM

Probably eventually we will all be streaming content, probably your broadband won't access your house via conventional ways either... Ironically it might come in over the air.

link to this
John's 3 posts US
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