From next year, there is a smart TV platform arriving that will be dedicated to free, live content delivered over broadband. It is called Freely, and it will be integrated into new UK smart TVs in the future.
If you want to know more about what Freely is about, when it is launching and how you can get your hands on it, then we’ve rounded up everything you need to know. You can also check out all the information we have on the Disney+ price hikes.
When is Freely launching?
The service is set to launch in the first half of 2024, with an exact date to be revealed. Certain features may be rolled out gradually.
As the name implies, it will be free to use. It’s like Freeview Play, only you can get it from your internet rather than needing an aerial, making it ideal for broadband-only homes.
If you’re watching BBC content, then we assume that you will still need to pay for a TV licence.
What channels will Freely broadcast content from?
Freely is taking inspiration from terrestrial TV with its layout, as it will be airing both live and on-demand content from the following channels:
- Channel 4
- Channel 5
Further down the line, the streaming platform will also host content from several Freeview channels, including STV, Sky News, Dave, Film 4 and Talk TV.
Therefore, free content that could be available on this platform includes news, competitions, reality shows, dramas, comedies, awards shows, sports and more.
Viewers will be able to browse channels through the guide, and directly find live content. We don’t yet have any screenshots or details on the layout of Freely – these will likely release closer to the launch.
Who owns Freely?
Freely has been created by Everyone TV, a company best known for Freeview and Freesat. Everyone TV is jointly owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
Why is Freely being launched?
The idea behind Freely is to allow viewers to continue to have access to free, live content from PSBs in the streaming age.
Currently, to watch live content via streaming, most users must access individual apps such as BBC iPlayer and ITV X – which can make finding live content to watch difficult. This would, in theory, streamline that.
This quote from ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall sums it up well:
“As more and more UK households use internet-connected TVs, it’s critical that the public service broadcaster channels remain available and easy for them to find. This new collaboration enables the UK public to continue to get all of their favourite British TV channels, for free – just as Freeview did at the advent of digital TV.”
How to get Freely
As far as we know, Freely will be available on new UK TV models from next year. The FT claims that it will not be built into older models.
We assume that Freely will not be available as an app via the likes of Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Sky, but this is unconfirmed. When we know more, we will update this article.
Is Freely replacing Freeview?
Freeview is currently available in 16 million homes, and we’ve heard no plans for it to be phased out. However, this could be the start of TV habits shifting.
According to a report from Ofcom last year, people aged 16-24 watch seven times less broadcast TV than those who are aged 65 and over, and instead opt for the most popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.
If PSBs wish to compete, then having a one-stop-shop for UK TV that does not require an aerial is a step in the right direction.