There’s no denying that Sky and Virgin Media have really been earning their monthly subscription fees recently. With a plethora of new features available on both platforms, and a better viewing experience, it’s hard to justify watching solely free-to-air TV. Thankfully, the BBC, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva have announced that they will be pumping £125 million into Freeview to improve the platform over the next five years.
Consumers won’t have to wait long before they begin seeing the fruits of this massive new investment, as the company has already announced its first new feature for the platform to come from this new cash – and it’s a big one. That’s because Freeview is finally joining the likes of Sky and Virgin Media with its own app for smartphones and tablets, complete with catch-up services and live TV.
Both Sky and Virgin Media have championed their respective apps thanks to the user’s ability to catch live content while on the go. Those using the Sky Q app can also enjoy the shows they’ve recorded on their set-top box, an incredibly useful feature for those who are consistently away from home. While Freeview will unlikely be offering the same functionality, it will be the only place users will be able to watch content from all the major catch-up services in one place.
It’s not just about the mobile app, however. The Freeview Play platform will also receive enhanced voice control and a better EPG, that should make it easier to navigate. This has been something that Sky has been particularly good at, with its voice control functionality already offering everything from content search to changing the channel.
One feature coming to Freeview Play that both Sky Q and BBC iPlayer customers will also be familiar with will be the ability to restart a live programme. This infinitely useful feature means users don’t have to switch over to the +1 channel in the event they’ve missed the first 10 minutes of a TV show.
Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK, said of the changes: “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.”