Why Freeview is gunning for Game of Thrones fans

Freeview's Ilse Howling and Guy North trash talk Pay TV giants

Ilse Howling
Ilse Howling - flying the flag/balloon for Freeview

TR: What message do you want to take to those people with pay TV who you think should plump for Freeview instead?

IH: I think what we want most is to get across to people that Freeview has amazing value, not only amazing value in its programmes but amazing value with its functionality. [We want to promote] those two factors combined: 95 per cent of the most watched programmes [are] available for free on Freeview, but also Freeview HD and Freeview+. So many people don't know that's available, and that's a really big theme for us this year.

TR: A lot of the talk today has been around Sky. Is that the competitor you believe you can chip away at?

IH: I wouldn't name one particular company over another. It's about whatever the pay TV offer is. [Pay TV] may well turn out to be what somebody wants, but I would encourage them to really look at it and what it gives - if that's what you want then great, but if it isn't then I hope they realise that by comparison Freeview is much better value. I want people to look again at Freeview and understand what we have to offer.

Freeview no need for a satellite dish or cable
Freeview - no need for a satellite dish or cable

TR: You're up against some huge companies with big marketing budgets, how can you compete?

IH: I would say look at what Freeview has to offer you. Lots of people have Freeview and it's just there. They haven't necessarily realised the richness of what it has to offer. If they are still thinking about normal television back in the "old world" - maybe they had digital from another provider, for instance - they should realise the richness of Freeview. We have over 70 TV channels plus radio channels and interactive services - it's a really rich offer. So if you have got Freeview already, think about upgrading to Freeview + or Freeview +HD. If you have pay TV and are starting to question whether it is what you want, then think about us.

TR: What are your thoughts on YouView, which is offering IPTV services and has been called a competitor to Freeview?

IH: If you think of all the homes in the country, some and more advances and have a greater appetite for things like connected TV, YouView or thorugh an iPad. It's a large group but it's still a minority who are interested. But for the mass mainstream of viewers, I think [YouView] has a long way to come.

We're really interested in allowing consumers to get into the programmes that they love faster. And [through the internet ] is a really good way of doing that. But nonetheless, it's back to the point I was making about linear television and its extraordinary resilience and longevity. When you look at how most people in this country are watching, despite the fact that all those catchup services are starting to become available, actually most are watching live and thorough the broadcast signal to their own televisions.

TR: This feels like a bold step into going directly after pay TV customers...

GN: It's quite a departure for us. It's a bit more punchy and a bit more aggressive than what we have done before, but that feels right for us, for where the market is and also the mood of the nation. If we are positioning ourselves as being the consumer champion, it's right we make sure all consumers have information they need to make the right decision for them. We are confident that by pointing out the key facts within the advert, we will help them make that decision.

The questions and answers were pooled from a one-to-one interview with Ilse Howling and a journalist's round-table event with Ms Howling and Graham North on the same day.

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