After a hiatus that lasted for five years, the Channel 4 streaming app (formerly known as All4) has made its much-anticipated return to Freesat’s platform – but not for all.
The relaunch took place today, bringing an additional 16,000 hours of on-demand content to Freesat’s 4K TV Boxes.
From British TV shows and hit US series to gripping true crime and live sports, popular shows like Gogglebox, The Inbetweeners, Married at First Sight, and The Great British Bake Off are now readily accessible on demand for Freesat users.
However, the app will not be added to Freesat’s older Humax boxes (see more details below).
Why Did All4 Leave Freesat In 2018?
The Channel 4 app was conspicuously absent from Freesat for five years, a removal that puzzled and frustrated many viewers over the years.
In 2018, Freesat updated its broadcast channel charging policy, linking the fees paid by channels more closely to their viewer numbers and, consequently, their advertising revenue.
This led to an increase in fees for Channel 4’s broadcast channels. Channel 4 then decided to remove its app (and even the HD linear channel, for a while) from the Freesat platform.
Freesat defended its updated policy, stating at the time:
“We have updated our broadcast channel charging policy so that the fees paid by channels are now more closely linked to the number of viewers they reach, and therefore the advertising revenue they can earn from being on Freesat.
“While this resulted in an increase for Channel 4’s broadcast channels, our On Demand fees haven’t changed so we were surprised that they decided to remove All4 from the platform as well.”
This episode left many viewers in a lurch and raised questions about the long-term planning of both companies. This week, Channel 4’s streaming app finally came back.
A New Era For Freesat And Channel 4
The relaunch of the Channel 4 app on Freesat comes after some significant changes in the landscape of British television.
In 2021, Freeview and Freesat merged to become one company (now known as Everyone TV), a move that was aimed at consolidating their resources and development.
This merger has likely played a role in facilitating the return of Channel 4 to the Freesat platform, since Everyone TV (formerly known as Digital UK) is owned by BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and… Channel 4.
Over the last two years, Freesat has been gradually reintroducing Channel 4’s offerings, starting with the relaunch of Channel 4 HD and its suite of music channels.
But Channel 4’s app remained absent – until now.
The Return Of The Channel 4 App To Freesat
The long-awaited return of the Channel 4 app to Freesat’s platform finally materialised on September 29, 2023.
This relaunch is a significant milestone for both Freesat and Channel 4, marking the end of the five-year absence and bringing a wealth of content back to viewers.
Emily Doyle, Content Partnership Manager at Freesat, expressed her enthusiasm about the relaunch, stating, “We are constantly striving to bring our customers the very best content and being able to relaunch the Channel 4 app is a significant milestone in that mission.”
This relaunch is seen as the “final piece in the puzzle” in reintroducing the full Channel 4 offering to Freesat, following the earlier relaunch of Channel 4 HD.
Karla Berry, Distribution and Platform Partnerships Leader at Channel 4, also weighed in on the relaunch.
She emphasised the importance of content availability, saying, “Ensuring Channel 4 content is available to audiences where they want it, when they want it is absolutely crucial, so we’re delighted to see the Channel 4 app on Freesat’s 4K TV Box.”
Wait, Where Is All4?
For those who are still expecting to find an “All4” app – that is no longer the name of Channel 4’s streaming platform.
In April of last year, Channel 4 underwent a significant transformation, rebranding its long-standing streaming app, All4, to simply “Channel 4.”
This change was part of a broader strategy to eventually unify the channel’s various properties, such as E4 and More4, under the global ‘Channel 4’ brand.
The name change was met with some confusion among users, as it blurred the lines between the linear Channel 4 channel and the Channel 4 streaming app.
Unlike other UK broadcasters that maintain unique names and identities for their streaming services – BBC has iPlayer, Channel 5 has My5, and ITV has ITVX – Channel 4 opted for a unified brand name.
This decision was based on the belief that “audiences increasingly no longer distinguish between digital and linear content,” according to Channel 4.
The rebranding marked the latest in a series of name changes for Channel 4’s online platform. It started as “Channel 4 Online,” then evolved to “4oD (4 on Demand)” in 2006, and later changed to “All4” in 2015.
With the latest rebranding to “Channel 4,” the app has come full circle.
Where Can I Find Channel 4 On Freesat?
It’s worth noting that the Channel 4 app will only be available on Freesat’s newer 4K TV Boxes.
In 2020, Freesat launched a new range of set-top boxes, replacing the older Humax Freesat devices. The new boxes combine the Freesat service – which requires a satellite dish – with streaming via broadband.
Owners of older Humax Freesat boxes will not be able to access the Channel 4 app, which could be a point of contention for some users – but they should be used to it by now, unfortunately, as they also can’t access ITVX.