Freeview to receive £125m investment to go ‘fully hybrid’

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and network operator Arqiva — the four shareholders of Digital UK — have signed a new five-year agreement to accelerate Freeview’s transition to a fully hybrid platform, providing free-to-view live and on-demand TV. (FreeView is the UK’s free to access DTT service)

The collaboration will see an investment of £125 million over the next five years. Alongside ongoing support for the Freeview platform, new developments will include a mobile app and improvements in content discoverability and navigation.

Digital UK says that, since its launch in 2015, more than three-and-a-half million Freeview Play products have been sold in the UK, from brands including Panasonic, LG, Sony and Toshiba, accounting for 60% of smart TV sales. The service provides UK viewers with live and on-demand content, all in one place with no monthly subscription.

Panasonic’s EX700 Freeview Play smart TV launched in 2017. It supports Ultra HD resolutions and HDR (HDR10 and Hybrid Log Gamma), in sizes between 40″ and 65″.

Digital UK will implement the new strategy, focusing on product development and working closely with Freeview on a refreshed marketing approach and brand positioning. The new investment will help Freeview exploit the trend towards “cord-cutting” as viewers build their own “skinny bundles”, combining free-to-view TV with streaming services.

Digital UK says that, since 2016, Freeview has grown its base of main sets by over a million homes to 11.4 million. Around 19 million homes watch Freeview.