Freeview Play to take on the streaming giants – massive changes coming soon

Freeview has just been given a huge boost, thanks to a pretty hefty investment. Some £125 million is going to be pumped into the service, with the idea that this money will help fund a "fully hybrid platform". 

In common parlance, this means that a brand-new mobile app will be created to bolster Freeview Play – the service that offers free-to-view terrestrial television and catch-up in one handy bundle. 

The new app will offer users a way to watch live TV and catch-up content and is due for release later this year. If successful, the app will work much in the way that iPlayer does at the moment, and also the premium Sky Q app, but instead of being restricted to BBC or Sky content it would allow you to catch up with shows from the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Channel 5 and their spin-off channels in one place. 

The Freeview Play hub on smart TVs and set-tops is also due for a big update, which will include improved voice search, a better EPG and catch-up links embedded within the guide itself. 

Funding is coming from Arqiva, which along with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 owns Digital UK, the company that supports the Freeview service.

Major boost

Speaking about the launch, Digital UK CEO, Jonathan Thompson said: “As the UK’s TV landscape becomes increasingly impacted by global players, this new commitment from our shareholders is a major boost for UK viewers.

“Building on this spirit of collaboration, we will not only safeguard free-to-view TV but reinvent it for a new age of viewing.”

Despite the onslaught of streaming platforms, Sky and Virgin Media, Freeview has stayed strong – since Freeview Play launched in 2015, more than 3.5 million devices equipped with the services have been sold. 

Given many of these devices will also have Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and other streaming services built into them, Freeview's latest slew of updates will hopefully entice users to what is a free but smart (and soon to be smarter) service. 

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.