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In an exciting development for television enthusiasts, British public service broadcasters are teaming up to create “Freely,” a groundbreaking free live TV service set to launch in 2024. This innovative service will offer viewers the ability to watch live TV channels and on-demand content over broadband, all from the comfort of their smart TVs. With “Freely” built into the next generation of smart TVs, it aims to revolutionize the way people experience television, emphasizing British content and user convenience.
“Freely” is being developed by Everyone TV, an organization jointly owned by major broadcasters including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. The collaboration’s goal is clear: to adapt to the changing landscape of television consumption, where online viewing is on the rise, while preserving the cherished tradition of live TV.
Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Everyone TV, explains the mission behind “Freely”: “This new development is a reflection of the fact that a growing number of U.K. 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. Every one of us should be able to share in the best of British ideas and creativity on TV.”
Live TV’s Enduring Appeal
Live TV continues to play a significant role in the daily lives of people in the UK. On average, 57% of viewing time per person per day is dedicated to live broadcasts, across all devices. This statistic, reported by the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, highlights the enduring appeal of live television. However, it also reveals that 15% (approximately 4 million) of UK TV households are currently broadband-only (IP-only), indicating a shift in viewer behavior.
Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, underlines the importance of making public-service television accessible to all: “Ensuring the universality of public-service television is sustained into the future is of paramount importance to the U.K. and all its public service broadcasters. We are delighted to be deepening our collaboration in helping viewers access our content, ensuring that, in a digital age, we deliver value for all audiences and that no one is left behind.”
Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the need for public service broadcaster channels to remain readily available and easy to find as more households adopt internet-connected TVs. She states, “This new collaboration enables the UK public to continue to get all of their favorite British TV channels, for free – just as Freeview did at the advent of digital TV.”
Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4, notes the increasing prevalence of streaming TV and the importance of ensuring that trusted PSB content remains accessible to everyone, free of charge. This collaborative effort seeks to address the changing habits of viewers, especially younger audiences who are increasingly turning to streaming.
Maria Kyriacou, President of Broadcast and Studios, International Markets at Paramount, which owns Channel 5, emphasizes that this collaboration will provide a seamless transition for viewers shifting to IP-enabled televisions. It ensures that viewers can continue enjoying the channels and content they love without disruption.
A Glimpse Into the Future
The “Freely” initiative represents a forward-looking approach to television broadcasting. By bringing together leading broadcasters and embracing the digital age, it aims to make British content universally accessible while accommodating the evolving preferences of viewers. As technology continues to reshape how we consume media, “Freely” promises to deliver a compelling blend of tradition and innovation, ensuring that the magic of live TV remains within reach for all.
Stay tuned for more updates as “Freely” prepares to make its debut in 2024, revolutionizing the way we experience television in the UK.