We’ve been hearing about a united UK streaming app that will combine content from all the major broadcasters for almost a year – and if new reports are accurate, that coveted app is now closer than ever.
Talks of a combined app first surfaced back in early 2021, when it was reported that discussions were being held between Freeview and the major broadcasters – The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, regarding an all-in-one UK streaming app/service.
At the moment, all the major broadcasters have their own streaming apps, where you can watch live TV and on-demand content via broadband – BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5.
These apps are available on most streaming devices, Smart TVs and mobile phones, but they work separately, each with its own user interface and personalized content recommendations.
Furthermore, viewers need to register and sign up separately for each app, and some of them also have a paid tier – like ITV Hub+ and All4+, that let you watch content without adverts.
A combined app would give viewers a single, united interface that “will enable all audiences to access for free all PSB/PSM content, as well as discover content from commercial providers – all in one place”.
Potentially, this united front would not only include content from the major broadcasters – but possibly from additional Freeview channels that want to join the endeavour.
United Streaming App Ready In November?
According to The Telegraph, the broadcasters want the new shared app to be ready in November, so they could negotiate for its inclusion in future Smart TVs.
For the app to be included in 2023 TV models, an agreement apparently needs to be in place soon – and the app needs to be ready for that.
Talks will reportedly start with TV manufacturers first – and then continue to streaming device manufacturers such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV, with the traditional Pay-TV providers (such as Sky) coming next.
According to the sources who spoke with The Telegraph, the app will open into a home screen where content from all the participating broadcasters will be presented under different categories – drama, comedy, reality TV and others.
The main question – which hasn’t been publically addressed yet – is whether the new app will simply be a “gateway” to the broadcasters’ other apps, or whether users will be able to stream content directly from within the new app.
After all, Freeview already offers its own mobile streaming app (of sorts), which brings the major broadcasters together – but only as a mobile TV guide.
When users want to actually watch something, they are transferred to the broadcaster’s own app, which has to be installed on the same device.
But the only way for a new united catch-up app to be really useful, is if it lets viewers sign up only once, and then let them watch whatever they want, without the need to jump into separate apps with different user interfaces.
While useful, that sounds a bit unlikely, as all the broadcasters invest a lot of money and hours into their own streaming apps – like iPlayer and ITV Hub.
So we may end up with a glorified “recommendation app”, that collects and presents personalized recommendations from all the major broadcasters, but then for the actual watching – sends you elsewhere.
With Netflix and Amazon Prime Video already dominating UK households, each public broadcaster will find it hard to fight the American giants alone – but together, maybe they can create a single, humongous British-centric streaming service.