Technology UK public service broadcasters to launch broadband-based live TV service in 2024

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The UK’s public service broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 – have announced a live TV service that will be delivered over the internet. It will be called Freely and come built-in to next generation smart TVs in 2024. The aim of Freely is to replicate the terrestrial TV experience. To pick up live TV in the UK now, most people need an aerial on top of their house with that line that plugs into their TV. Their Freeview device can then scan for new channels periodically. The major downside to this set up is that bad weather or simply a bad installation can lead to choppy viewing. By moving live TV to broadband, viewers can tune in to live TV without the need for an aerial and enjoying a better viewing quality.

Legacy TV channels such as BBC and ITV have seen declining viewers in recent years as people opt to watch streaming services, YouTube, and TikTok. They attempted to stay relevant through BritBox which isn’t very popular compared to Netflix and Disney+. With Freely, they may have a better chance at staying relevant as it retains a familiar format of scheduled TV shows but is built to work over the net and not through an aerial, which some people might not even have anymore.

Freely is being developed by Everyone TV which is an organization jointly owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Its CEO, Jonathan Thompson, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the public service broadcasters on the next phase of free TV’s evolution. This new development is a reflection of the fact that a growing number of UK viewers are watching content online, but still want easy access to the shared experience of live TV. Our aim is to ensure that all viewers have access to a free, aggregated live TV experience that champions British content and is delivered in a way that suits audience needs and preferences.'
 

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