The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and network operator Arqiva have signed a new five-year agreement to accelerate Freeview’s transition to a “fully hybrid platform.”
The collaboration between the four shareholders of Digital UK will see an investment of £125 million ($165 million) over the next five years to build on the success of Freeview Play, which is making a push in Britain’s free-to-view connected TV market.
Alongside the ongoing support for the Freeview platform, new developments will include a mobile app and improvements in content discoverability and navigation.
Freeview Play offers viewers a combination of live and on-demand content all in one place with no monthly subscription. The investment follows on the heels from Ofcom recently highlighting the challenges created by new players such as Netflix and Amazon and calling for more industry collaboration to maintain the prominence of PSB content on connected TV interfaces.
Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK, said: “As the U.K.’s TV landscape becomes increasingly impacted by global players, this new commitment from our shareholders is a major boost for U.K. 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.”
Noel Curran, director-general of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), said: “Technological innovation increasingly requires new models of co-operation and investment to meet ever-changing public needs. The EBU has always championed open innovation initiatives for Public Service Media. This new deal provides added value and new services for viewers across the U.K., especially for online and streaming consumption.”