back to article Freeview's rumoured '£100m YouView killer' is real – and it's yet another digital TV thing

A new UK TV platform dubbed Freeview Connect has been officially announced after many months of rumour within the industry. It will provide catch-up and other on-demand services for terrestrial UK broadcasters – much as YouView does today. The move leaves Freeview shareholder Sky, which has its own telly platform, out in the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't we need decent nationwide broadband coverage (the FCC is mulling uprating the definition of "broadband" from 4Mb/s to 10Mb/s - BT, take note) before pushing more broadcast media onto the internet?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No

      No. As has been pointed out by AO himself in one of his myriad anti-Net Neutrality articles, video streaming needs good infrastructural bandwidth (ideally with large ISPs having kit from the broadcaster), not lots of bandwidth for end users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No

        So my well-under-1Mb/s is fine for streaming HD video, is it?

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: No

          Yes, but you may have a lot of times where its buffering

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      But if we push this crap all onto the Internet then the valuable radio bandwidth that it currently occupies can indeed be used for - high bandwidth internet access!

  2. Saint Sound

    We don't need another bloody platform! Who wants to buy a TV that will be obsolete as soon as it hits the shelves. The tiny boxes from Roku, Apple and Amazon are so much cheaper and yet so much better for accessing content!

    1. Stuart 22

      3.142 platforms

      I'm totally confused by all the complications. Freeview isn't ancient. It is what most people use and understand now and will continue until something else cheap and likely to last longer than the next PR launch.

      Meanwhile a Raspberry Pi with XBMC does 80% (ymmv) of the job for £25 and a bit of fiddling*. If only I could make the WiFi as stable as a wired connection I wouldn't even think of using something else. When I do its using my Chromebook to drive the TV.

      * Any fiddling is preferable to a visit to Currys.

      1. OldIronHorse
        Go

        Pi WiFi

        My Raspberry Pi WiFi stability issues were (finally) fixed when I turned the power saving off with

        iwconfig wlan0 power off

        I'm only streaming audio but this might help you too.

        1. Ian 55

          Re: Pi WiFi

          I just used the ethernet port and plugged into the router...

      2. Synonymous Howard

        Re: 3.142 platforms

        Although I have 4 RasPis and have run XBMC / PlexBMC on some I have found the £10 nowtv (Sky+Roku) boxes to be very good (side-loaded with a Plex client via the 'dev' mode easter egg) and running iPlayer, 4oD and umm, Demand 5.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      I don't need any more platforms. I do not struggle to access the content available for the prices it's available for.

      What gets my goat is that the content either isn't available, or I'm not prepared to pay that much for it.

      I pay for cable-TV with my broadband and phone. That gives me several hundred channels of junk, that I don't really watch. To be honest, my girlfriend and I lived for four years without a TV, and barely noticed, and let's face it - a landline is optional nowadays. So really we both know that 2/3rds of what we pay for is wasted, but it still turns out to be a reasonable deal for our broadband connection. We never press the red button, and I think we bought a pay-for movie once (and it crashed halfway and wouldn't let us resume it, but that's probably just fluke).

      We have FreeviewHD. It shows the same stuff as cable but isn't interactive, doesn't offer Pay-TV, etc. Not that we use either of those features, but given that both are plugged into the telly, we default to the one that gives us more channels/features. We also have FreeSat plugged into the TV. We use it so much, I moved the dish to point at an Italian satellite for my girlfriend (and we don't watch that either).

      Over and above that, we use BBC iPlayer and 4oD's YouTube channels for anything that we've missed and need to watch. That's rare. We had Amazon Prime for the trial month. We watched four old junk movies and then I stopped the payment on it before it went live. If I'm honest, I benefited more from the free delivery on Amazon than I did the streaming/on-demand/pay-TV even with hundreds of free TV/movies on it.

      But yet, I still can't get some old comedies on DVD anywhere. They just don't exist. Try to find "The Two of Us". Yes, you might have hated it but I will spend money to find it... I have Series 1 on DVD after waiting - what - 25 years? Series 2 has never come out. It was the same for Just Good Friends - Series 1 and 2 on DVD only after 20+ years. Series 3 came out nearly 10 years later. And that's stuff just sitting in archives, that's been digitised already (they show it on Freeview/cable etc.), that they could sell to me today on just about any format they liked. Apparently, they're not interested in that.

      But they like to try to sell me the latest Disney movie on every format possible for basically the same cost as a Disney DVD (i.e. ludicrously expensive) with copy-protection coming out of its ears, even 30 years after its initial release. I honestly couldn't care less about that.

      We've solved the "access method" problems. We've solved the "payment method" problems (everything from a small monthly payment for lots of content to one-off payments for purchases and and rentals). Now can we get something worth buying?

      I'm honestly this close to just upping my broadband connection and turning off the TV. I wouldn't pirate (that would imply that there was something worth watching/stealing), but I'd get more value out of it.

      Until then, I just trawl bootsales for DVD copies of movies I want to watch. It's served me well, but I'm hardly a cheapskate. I just begrudge a movie costing more than the meal I eat in front of it for four people.

      1. Shaha Alam

        "Now can we get something worth buying?"

        there're lots of things worth buying. It's just that your use case seems rather unique.

        Seriously, you're complaining about not finding tv programs from the mid 80s???

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        I'm honestly this close to just upping my broadband connection and turning off the TV.

        Do it. I've been running like that for 2 years now, and I can feel my brain slowly beginning to recover.

        P.S. You'll start to read a lot of books, too. But they are readily available on e-bay and Gutenberg...

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      I'm not sure you will have to buy another TV. The net service screen on mine seems to show new applications from time to time. I assume it gets updates from somewhere.

      Anything that improves on BBC iplayer will be welcome. It's probably the worst UI in the world.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's probably the worst UI in the world.

        So you haven't tried to use the ITV offering then?

      2. ChaoticMike

        Nah... Have you tried NetFlix on Virgin Media? Inept isn't the word... There doesn't appear to be a way to restart watching a film if you were halfway through, or navigating quickly up and down the interminable 'Because you watched...' suggestions that I have no interest in...

        Rant over.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "We don't need another bloody platform! "

      Exactly what I think every time there is a new Linux distribution released...

      "Who wants to buy a TV that will be obsolete as soon as it hits the shelves"

      No one - hence why most have online firmware updates.

      "The tiny boxes from Roku, Apple and Amazon are so much cheaper and yet so much better for accessing content"

      They are an EXTRA cost over a TV, and the apps I can download to my TV do the same job just fine thanks.

  3. Chad H.

    Its not so much vanity. The broadcasters feel they have lost control of youview to TalkTalk and BT. They want it back and ISP-Neutral

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can't see how they 'lost control' of the platform, it is as it always was. However if it wasn't for Talk Talk and BT then the sale of the boxes would be negligible and it would probably have been shut down by now. The only marketing for YouView comes from BT or TalkTalk.

      The platform itself is pretty good, just too late to market and too slow - even the app is soo slow which could be fixed so easily with just a small local cache or, even better a once a day download to local DB (if you scroll past a channel and then back up to it straight away it has to reload the data back in again!).

    2. Visionman

      No

      I wasn't aware signing up to either BT or TalkTalk was a requirement for getting a YouView box? I also wasn't aware one needed either BT or TT broadband to use one either.

      1. RedBadger

        Re: No

        Absolutely right. I have a youview box. I'm not with talktalk or BT. Just bought it from a shop and plugged it in. No idea how anyone could think that the broadcasters have 'lost control of it'. As far as YouView is concerned, some of the UI is great. Some of it is a bit crap. Specifically it is horrendously slow. It's an under-powered bit of kit. It really struggles to respond if it is recording 2 programs.The EPG is very slow most of the time. No local EPG cache seems bizarre. The options it throws up if you try to watch a channel that you can't watch due to other recordings in progress make it far too easy to cancel one of the recordings in progress instead of 'doing nothing'. On the whole it is OK, but could have been so much better.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Chad H.

        They're the only ones actively promoting it. Marketing for non BT/TT systems is non existent.

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The Magic Roundabout

    > manufacturers to launch a new range of connected Freeview HD televisions and boxes which consumers will be able to buy in store

    Gottit! A gizmo to make TV watchers buy yet another gadget. Given the failure of 3D (which never actually was 3D, just a trick of perspective) and curved screens - surely the dumbest idea so far this century (really: tellies that only show an undistorted picture if you happen to be the one person sitting in the sweet spot AND which gathers all the reflections from everywhere in the room and beams them directly into your eyes?). Given those failures brilliant marketing strategies, the TV industry desperately needs to get us all buying more crap.

    What better than telling us that the smart TVs we've bought over the past 5 years are all now obsolete,as they won't have the software to receive this new service (and after the first and probably only software upgrade, won't be able to receive it in the future - after someone, somewhere changes something and we all have to whip out our wallets again).

    The only question that the once bitten, twice shy consumers should be asking is "what guarantees are there that this platform, with it's multiple content providers, won't implode under the weight of it's own infighting in a few years time and we all have to shell out again, just to get back to watching all the TV that wasn't good enough to watch live when it was first broadcast?"

    Personally, I give it up until just before the 2018 world cup. What a coincidence that would be?

    1. Karl H

      Re: The Magic Roundabout

      A 3d scene rendered on a 2 dimensional screen has lots of distortions in it. Not that 3d TV could ever really correct them , it was ( and still is ) a "plasticky" kind of distorted 3d. Not until we get the long awaited and very difficult implement holographic TV will it ever really improve.

      Just saying , and all that .

    2. billat29

      Re: The Magic Roundabout

      Yet another box? I can't stand it. Something else that doesn't quite work or do what we expected it to do.

      Oh wait! They are off to develop the specification. It's as likely that this will be ready for the 2018 World Cup as Youview was ready for the Olympics.

    3. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: The Magic Roundabout

      manufacturers to launch a new range of connected Freeview HD televisions and boxes which consumers will be able to buy in store

      I don't see what's new about this? My TV already has apps for iPlayer/4Od etc, the content for which is streamed over the net. It's not even a new TV, 3 years or so old. Ok so it's one app per channel, so is what's new here that there is one app which gets all the channels? Big deal.

  5. MidnightVoice

    What YouView can't bring to this table....

    YouView can't (currently?) show the Connected channels. But that's a pretty small peg to hang such a large hat on .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What YouView can't bring to this table....

      "YouView can't (currently?) show the Connected channels"

      And the Connected channels are? Where can I read about them, and why I might want them? [Are they different than the Connect TV channels which last time I looked were of no interest to me?]

      I'm told that Youview boxes also don't let their owner fast forward through the adverts in recorded/streamed content? Anyone confirm?

      It really does make a Roku or a RasPi with suitable applications and content (the stuff on my Roku LT is crap) is the answer, not yet another system-integrated £300-1000 'upgrade'.

      1. Mole5000

        Re: What YouView can't bring to this table....

        "I'm told that Youview boxes also don't let their owner fast forward through the adverts in recorded/streamed content? Anyone confirm?"

        Who ever told you this is telling porky bollocks. I can skip the ads perfectly fine on my Humax Youview box. It's even got a skip 1 minute button so 3 or 4 presses of that skips the entire ad break on most commercial channels to make the vewing experience seamless.

        1. Alan Edwards

          Re: What YouView can't bring to this table....

          > I can skip the ads perfectly fine on my Humax Youview box.

          On stuff you've recorded yourself, almost certainly not on the streamed catch-up stuff.

          4OD and Demand 5 on the Now TV (Roku) will let you wind forwards through the stream, but drops back to locked normal speed play when it hits an advert.

          Demand 5 also runs up to 3 unskippable pre-roll adverts - most annoying when you just want to see if you've already watched a particular episode and there's no synopsis in the guide.

          1. Mole5000

            Re: What YouView can't bring to this table....

            I don'y know of any device that lets you skip the ads on "streamed from provider" programming - given that it isn't the device that is in control, it is the (channel provider) player that is governing when and how you can FF/RW. Given the infrastructure needed to support streaming that would be a colossal money sink for anyone who allowed it.

      2. UncleJam

        Re: What YouView can't bring to this table....

        You can fast forward through recordings if using the Humax-based YouView box. We do it all of the time and use the EPG to 'go back in time' when wanting to watch programs that you may have missed. I like the platform, It just needs a little more work.

  6. Dave Robinson

    Hope it's better than YouView

    My Humax YouView box takes two minutes to start up, and is dumbed down compared to my identical to look at Humax Freeview HD box. Hopefully whatever comes next (or at the same time) will be better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hope it's better than YouView

      I am in EXACTLY the same situation. As I got my Humax YouView box for free (I was part of the public trial before it launched), I banished it to the bedroom TV and bought a new Freeview-only Humax STB for the main TV. This new "development" seems to be a solution in search of a problem!

      1. Dave Robinson

        Re: Hope it's better than YouView

        Agreed. Retrofitting a few more streaming players (in addition to iPlayer and Demand 5) to the original Humax Freeview HD box would be a much better proposition (for Humax).

        Mind you, you could improve YouView simplying by allowing you to stream programmes you've "missed" before they've actually finished airing. It's so annoying pressing the play button on a programme that finished 10 minutes ago, and being told it's not available.

        As you say, a solution in search of a problem

  7. Recaf

    FFS!

    Why can't they just make services available using the existing Freeview HD IPTV standard?

    Another £100m bites the dust.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: FFS!

      FFS can't they make content I actually want to watch?

  8. Andrew Jones 2

    While I agree this is probably not the way to go -

    I read elsewhere that the reason for this "new" platform is because YouView is apparently too expensive (no arguments from me there) - the idea is this new platform will apparently be available at a reasonable cost to TV manufacturers to build directly into their new sets - as well as the usual set-top-boxes that will undoubtedly flood the market.

    Maybe it is the way to go - YouView certainly hasn't lived up to the hype that was promised, and if this new platform does ensure that ALL new boxes to hit the market will be compatible with the new platform, to the point that in a few years you can pick up a £50 Freeview HD box with all the various ondemand services built in, while YouView still costs £299 - it might be worth it...... If it is going to cost more than £150 though.... back to the drawing board please.

    They might even decide - to get over their irrational fear of the Chromecast and follow the BBC's lead and add support for the little dongle, it is after all ridiculously easy to write an app for - it's just a glorified Chrome instance running in Kiosk mode!

  9. Grubby

    The illusion of a competitive market

    As much as competition can make things cheaper and improve the level of service provided to the consumer, it can also have the opposite effect. There will soon be so many services that offer 99% of the same stuff as the rest with 1% of exclusive stuff. But unlike other competitive industries that operate in the same way you can't just pick the 1% you want. When Tesco are selling Levis jeans at a penny a pair they don't force you to fill your basket with crap before you can buy them (they hope you will, but it's not a requirement). Yet when you want the 1 football game or film, you have to buy the 'bundle' or 'package' or 'boost'. The result is you end up with 100 ways to watch Only Fools & Horses so that you can watch the game on Saturday and the other game the following week... False competition.

  10. crediblywitless

    Will the audio/video synch be right?

  11. NeilPost

    Dumb and Dumber

    Considering the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, (along side BT and Talk-Talk) are the members of the YouView consortium, this is so utterly dumb as being beyond belief. Sky must be laughing their arses off, and some.

    Youview works on any broadband, for those who mentioned it, you just don't get a subsidized box, on the back of a contract renewal, and the hope of some on demand purchases.

    I bet Sky are still laughing, and laughing, and laughing.....................

  12. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The question is...

    ...how open it is. The great advantage of TV has always been that it's open to everyone. You can, in principle, build your own receiver. You can buy a receiver made for one country and if you get the signal from another country, you can decode it. (with some limitations of course) And it doesn't matter if my receiver was made by company A or company B.

    So essentially the questions here are:

    Will it be DRM-free?

    Will it work with open source software?

    1. Wilseus

      Re: The question is...

      Will it be DRM-free?

      Will it work with open source software?

      Hahaha that's a good one!

  13. Zmodem

    just download a app and you can watch them anyway

  14. Zmodem

    just download a app and you can watch them anyway, not that anyone cares for the bbc except for americans

  15. MJI Silver badge

    I need a Freeview HD box

    And was considering the BT Humax offer.

    Which is best for normal broadcast HD?

    BT Humax Youview OR Humax Freeview HD?

    I already have a Freesat PVR and an old Freeview PVR on its last legs

    1. Conor Turton

      Re: I need a Freeview HD box

      Which is best for normal broadcast HD?

      BT Humax Youview OR Humax Freeview HD?

      The BT Humax box is a rebadges Humax box with customised firmware but otherwise the same. I doubt you'd notice any difference. However if you decide to go for bolt on channels you can't get them on the Humax box, only the BT branded one. I've got the old BT Humax box and I've been reasonably happy with it, the only downside being responsiveness when it was recording from the internet and also freeview simultaneously.

  16. Old Tom
    Happy

    Sounds sensible to me

    Freesat gives us access to on-demand services, but because Freeview preceded these services, it hasn't hitherto. Aren't they just plugging that gap in service?

  17. Chika

    Great. Something else to pump us for.

    You might have detected some sarcasm in that statement. If you didn't, well there was. Yet more outlets and more channels but no real mention of quality programming to put out on them because there isn't any quality programming left. Yes, you may have plenty of stuff out there that pulls in crowds and advertisers and money, but that doesn't equate to quality, especially with the tendency to target the lowest common denominator. You wonder why there are so many channels hosting repeats and remakes? People want to watch something good, but they are increasingly having to turn to archive sources, catchup channels, prerecorded shows, YouTube-alikes or even old tape they recorded back in the day just to fill those hours when, once upon a time, you switched on the boob-tube and vegitated to your favourite stuff.

    The quality of the picture or the sound, the gimmicks such as ever widening screen sizes, higher resolutions and such wastes of time as 3D make no difference at all if what is being shown or offered is rubbish. You complain that FreeView is "ancient"? Well, consider that people are more likely to accept the idea of "free" if the stuff they are watching isn't really worth paying for, no matter how old the technology is.

    You want to be paid? Offer us something worth paying for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Offer us something worth paying for.

      "You want to be paid? Offer us something worth paying for."

      Exactly. One way of doing that *right now* might be to stop offering stuff only as part of overpriced bundles, so that folks happy to pay for something can do so without having to pay for it as part of a 'package', of which they may only ever be interested in 5%.

      For example, I might pay a small sum for streamed Sky Arts on a standalone basis, but there's not much else they offer that's interesting to me.

  18. Alan Edwards

    Why are Sky bothering?

    Sky have already got a platform that does everything this does except ITV Player, the Now TV box.

    Write an ITV Player app for the Roku, stick a FreeView Connect label on the top and ship it with the UK catchup apps pre-installed, problem sorted. No need to develop a new box and software.

    They could even do a version that's double the price (£20), a different colour, and removes the NowTV ads on front screen. For a hundred million they could even come up with a single app that integrates iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5 under a single UI.

    1. monkeyfish

      Re: Why are Sky bothering?

      Not not sure Sky are bothering, are they even involved?

      As for the Roku, I got one and it does more or less all I want from it, especially since 4OD was added. I also have a pre-smart Freeview PVR for recording stuff, which is the preferred method.

      But there is a major problem with the Roku: Every channel is allowed to use their own UI. And most of them are crap. It's ok for me because I'm used to these sort of things, but for my in-laws, not so much.

      So all that really needs doing is adding ITV to the Roku, and also fixing at least the main TV channels so there is one consistent UI between them. It doesn't matter what UI it is, just so long as there is only one to learn.

  19. Fink-Nottle

    21st century solution

    Why does the BBC et al bother paying for distribution? All public broadcasters need to do is put content on a crappy server in a basement somewhere. Within 24 hours, high quality pirated copies of the programs will be available worldwide, at no cost to the broadcaster.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV Licence killer please

    Please someone drag Auntie kicking and screaming into doing what other broadcasters can do and go for a subscription model, or may be just give Auntie a good kick or two. Just had the TV Licence daleks hounding me again - I gave up watching the drivel years ago. Wondering if I could bring a test case against them, under human rights legislation.

    Posting anonymously, but I wouldn't put it past them to be monitoring my activity using RIPA powers.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just call in Lord Sugar

    Youview was going nowhere and to recoup sunken costs, started marketing youview as "worth" £299 for free. His fat ass !

    They still do that over the phone and staff are trained to always mention this.

    So he will ensure the services are marketed at Less than £299.99 and you will have a winner, and become UK's fastet growing Tv services. and mugs will buy them in droves. Then Alan Sugar can be sacked. Problem solved.

    Who the fuck needs another platform ? Only them, I think and the ad revenue. Another vanit project, which achieves NOTHING.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Just call in Lord Sugar

      "Then Alan Sugar can be sacked"

      you mean...

      The Youview board can say "You're Fired!" to S̶i̶r̶ ̶A̶l̶a̶n̶ Lord Sugar

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YouView was a new platform, developed without the involvement of Freeview and without the involvement of most of the industry. From a manufacturer point of view it is a closed platform and that closed nature has meant that it has reached something of a dead-end. It continues to get support because BT and TT have shipped millions, but the retail portion died almost immediately that subsidised boxes came out, /most/ people tend to say "why pay so much for retail when I can get it for free* from BT/TT".

    Freeview Connected isn't really another platform, it is actually an extension to Freeview to allow manufacturers to finally get a standard means to access the on demand content from the PSBs. Until now it was Samsung throwing cash at ITV to bribe them for exclusivity deals and fragmented distribution arrangements. Now, hopefully, every manufacturer will be able to integrate the players more easily and in a standard way. The fact that a new entity has been formed is more about the management of the project than about a new platform.

  23. Visionman

    Freeview Connect is about the technical standardisation of Smart TVs. Nothing more, nothing less. And its a good idea actually. But its no more a YouView killer than I am.

  24. tyne

    Strategy

    Rather than being a vanity project as some have suggested, perhaps it's part of a longer term strategic switch from traditional broadcast to a fully IPTV based service in the future.

    The mobile operators, Ofcom and DCMS are already proposing that Freeview move from the 700MHz band by 2018, and there is already talk of taking away the 600MHz band by 2023. On a technical level freeview is already struggling in parts of the uk having lost the 800MHz band to 4G last year because transmitters in neighbouring areas are now causing interference.

    From the broadcasters perspective switching off the terrestrial transmitters tomorrow would be a huge cost saving, the costs of broadcasting by satellite are significantly cheaper. IPTV where the end user foots the bill for the transmission costs (by paying their ISP for bandwith) is cheaper still.

    What better way to test the system, than to use, free, self selecting, beta testers, who'll buy their own equipment.

  25. Visionman

    The switching off of the terrestrial transmitters is some way off yet. But it may happen. And if it does, fibre will be everywhere by then.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just a way for the Beeb to force people to pay TV tax if they have WiFi and a smart TV but no aerial.

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