U.K. Streaming Service Freely Launches


The new streaming service Freely, backed by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, has made its official launch in the U.K.

Freely is available through the next generation of smart TVs now on sale in stores and online. For the first time, audiences in the U.K. can stream live TV channels alongside on-demand content for free via their smart TVs, removing the need for a dish or aerial. The new service also marks the first time all four of Britain’s public-service broadcasters have come together to launch a streaming proposition.

STV and S4C, free-to-air public service broadcasters for Scotland and Wales, respectively, will also bring their channels and on-demand content to Freely, via broadband.

Kieran Clifton, director of BBC distribution and business development, said: “The launch of Freely is a historic moment for U.K. television. Collaboration between the U.K. PSBs is critical to connecting and protecting all audiences as we transition towards the streaming era—and delivering live TV over broadband for free is a ground-breaking innovation that will futureproof public service broadcasting.”

Martin Goswami, ITV’s group strategic partnerships and distribution director, said: “The success and impact of programs like ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office shows the importance of U.K. PSBs, and ITV is proud to be part of this exciting new chapter for free TV in this country with Freely. Bringing live streamed channels and on-demand content together in Freely gives viewers the opportunity to access the very best in British content as easily as possible, from live and recent programs to a wealth of on-demand options.”

Grace Boswood, technology and distribution director at Channel 4, said: “Freely will deliver the best of Britain’s world-leading public service content seamlessly and for free. It further supports Channel 4’s Fast Forward strategy as we accelerate our transformation into the streaming age, ensuring our trusted, brand-safe content is available to everyone.”

James Tatam, senior VP of business and revenue for Channel 5, said: “We’re delighted to be part of Freely, which will ensure U.K. audiences can continue to easily discover and enjoy original, high-quality British programs from Channel 5 and the other public-service broadcasters, live and on-demand, for free.”

TiVo, a subsidiary of Xperi Inc., will be offering Freely as part of its TiVo OS platform. Gabriel Cosgrave, general manager of EMEA, Xperi, said: “Xperi is dedicated to delivering an extraordinary entertainment experience that is more intuitive, immersive and personal. By integrating Freely into the TiVo OS platform, we are empowering U.K. audiences to navigate content without constraints and unlocking more personalized options, quickly and seamlessly, inclusive of public service broadcaster’s content.”