Freeview And Freesat’s Future: Freely Unveils New Features

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Freely, the broadband-based replacement for Freeview and Freesat, is coming soon – and today, we can finally reveal its upcoming launch window and unveil some of its features and user interface.

With a Q2 2024 launch date now confirmed (meaning sometime between April and June), Freely aims to revolutionize the UK free television landscape by merging live and on-demand content in a seamless, user-friendly package – that’s based on broadband and not on aerials or satellites (though Freeview and Freesat are not going anywhere, for now).

Promising features such as live pause, restart, and streamlined access to additional episodes (without the need to record), Freely is designed to cater to the modern viewer’s demands, ensuring that free TV remains a staple in the era of broadband consumption.

Freely Freeview Freesat collage

And, while we’re already familiar with some of these features from pay-TV based streaming solutions, such as Sky Stream and EE TV – Freely will be the first service to incorporate these features into a free platform.

What Is Freely?

Freely, which was announced in September 2023, is not merely an addition to the UK’s free-to-air broadcasting ecosystem but a reinvention of it.

Born out of a collaboration between the UK’s major broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5 – Freely is being developed by Everyone TV, the body behind Freeview and Freesat.

Freely’s mission is to combine the benefits of Freeview and Freesat with the expansive possibilities of streaming.

This initiative aims to ensure that free-to-air television remains relevant and accessible in the broadband era, offering a comprehensive suite of features designed to enhance the viewer’s experience without imposing additional costs.

According to research, more than half of UK homes will watch TV exclusively over broadband by 2030 – therefore a significant aspect of Freely is its approach to delivery, promising a service that eliminates the need for traditional aerial or satellite connections.

Instead, viewers can look forward to a world where any smart TV with Wi-Fi can access a wide array of live and on-demand content.

This also means that alongside standard broadcast channels, viewers can also access a variety of IP-delivered channels once their Freely-compatible devices are connected to the internet.

Freely UI show page bake off
Freely’s interface

However, Freely has also been designed to ensure both backwards and forward compatibility.

Freely devices will operate like a standard DTT (aerial-based) device if only connected to an aerial and not broadband, or (at a later stage) like a Freesat device if just connected to DSat.

But, it’s also important to remember that Freely’s broadband-based channels list and its over-the-air (DTT aerial-based) channels list will most likely not be identical, especially at launch – meaning some over-the-air Freeview channels will not be available on the streaming side of Freely, and vice versa.

And – at launch, Freely will only be supported on next-gen Smart TVs (another Smart TV partner was announced today – Vestel). Therefore, set-top boxes and pre-2024 TV set will NOT support Freely at this stage.

Freely’s User Interface Revealed

Today, Freely has unveiled exciting details about its user interface (UI), showcasing features designed to modernize the free TV experience.

Freely UI show Mini Guide

According to Freely, viewers will be – for the first time in a free service – granted the ability to effortlessly switch between live and on-demand content from leading UK broadcasters.

This integration is further enhanced by functionalities such as pause, restart, and access to more episodes, all without additional charges.

Of course, these features are already available on platforms such as Sky Stream and Virgin Media Stream, which put their own UI on a streaming-based Freeview platform – but those services cost money, and Freely is, well, free.

And, just like Freeview Play, Freely will provide a “consistent and recognisable” user experience across all Freely-enabled TVs in the market regardless of how it is accessed.

Freely UI TV Guide

This approach ensures that regardless of the brand or model of the smart TV, users can enjoy a uniform interface that marries the convenience of streaming with the richness of traditional broadcast content (alas, it will only be available on actual TVs, at least at launch – and not on set-top boxes or mobile devices).

The new user interface features, which are streamlined – and streaming-based – versions of features we know from other platforms, are:

MiniGuide: This pop-up interface appears each time users switch channels, creating a seamless browsing experience and enabling viewers to easily discover related live or on-demand content. 

Freely UI live TV Mini Guide
Freely MiniGuide on a Live Show

Browse: Viewers will be able to press the Freely button on their remote to explore recommended live and on-demand programming from the UK’s leading broadcasters and free-to-air channels, all in one place.

TV Guide: An intuitive 7-day guide that integrates live TV and on-demand content discovery, simplifying access to favourite shows and new episodes.

Freely UI EPG
Freely’s EPG

Today Freely is also announcing its upcoming collaboration with UKTV (soon to be called U) to bring its portfolio of free channels to the platform via broadband. Those channels include Dave, Drama, Yesterday and W.

Sarah Milton and Carl Pfeiffer, Joint Chief Product Officers at Everyone TV, said: “It’s clear the way people are watching TV is changing, with more audiences switching over to a broadband-only connection.

“We’ve built Freely around the needs of British audiences, bringing them the freedom to choose how they want to watch, with all their favourite shows from the UK’s leading broadcasters all in one place for free.

“We’re really proud of what we’re launching with Freely and are excited about bringing major enhancements like the MiniGuide to viewers as Freely launches in Q2 this year.”

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51 thoughts on “Freeview And Freesat’s Future: Freely Unveils New Features”

  1. Your data and your responses to advertising is their income stream. Which is why, unless you’re paying a subscription, you have to have a box between you and the broadcast source and/or waste your life watching adverts for incontinence pads and laxatives in order to watch second rate TV programmes. It’s known as civilization.

  2. It has come down from on high that we shall not be allowed to record programmes and zip through the advertisements. That is now as clear as day. First Sky Glass and Sky Stream, then the Virgin version, and now this. Having experienced Sky Stream for the past year, I can tell you that the Ad Skipping Service is feeble and works haphazardly. Each channel (ITV, C4, C5, etc) have differing methods for zipping through ads, some a lot more successful than others. Even Sky can’t use the system it uses with NowTV (which automatically keeps ads off air), relying on much work with the finger on zapper to watch.

    My 19 month trip with Sky Stream is soon to end, and will not be renewed. In all that time, I think that apart from Sport, I have not watched a single TV programme on broadcast TV from any of the Sky channels.

    Most of my viewing has been catchup, Netflix, Discovery+ and You Tube, the occasional Premier League match, and F1. I think just a sub to NowTV will suffice in future. And I have a YouView recorder in perfect condition, which I shall resurrect and press into service.

    Streaming without recording is bound to fail. The big cheeses just haven’t realised it yet.

    • I totally agree.

      EVen though I have a degree in computer science and work in IT, I like to escape the internet and computers as much as possible when at home.

      I can build a PC, have done so since the 90’s. I write my own apps for my smartphone etc, so I’m far from a luddite or anything like being unsavvy when it comes to this kid of stuff.

      I just makes me appreciate the differences between a cassette tape, an audio CD and a streaming service’s app.

      I stream Netflix, quite a lot actually. But I also ARCHIVE. I grew up recording and keeping things forever, not just to time shift. Many such recordings are not needed as I later buy the DVD or bluray (something I collect) but a heck of a lot of stuff never gets released as we know.

      In 25 years time I want to wacth X Y or Z and I can guarantee that by recording it. NO streamer can guarentee that in 25 years I’ll be able to stream it, heck I cant even be sure if I’ll be able to stream something next week! Much of what I have on dvd/bluray and home recordings of, have never touched streaming or if they have, have vanished.

      I also want control. I’m in charge and can record, keep and timeshift my own private library, without their hinderance.

      They claim streaming removes the need to record, yet I feel it INCREASES that need. Things are more at risk of vanishing, possibly forever, it’s no different than a broadcast apart from it hangs around for a few months or even years, then poof, is gone like the original broadcast is.

      Well I want to KEEP it. Give me a dvd/bluray or let me record it myself.

      I also know a mate of mine who has his own mates who worked on SKy Glass, and he confirms that it is simply designed to WATCH YOU. I work in this area, studied it, and I know how it works and I dont like it.

      I prefer the efficiency of BROADCAST. A transmitter sent to receivers, anywhere they can see the signal. Here however, Freely cant be watched in a feild when camping without a mobile signal, and data…

      And that is my main point here. Data costs ordinary people. From renting a broadbad connection to paying for mobile data at proces that make sending a file the size of a FLOPPY DISK something to worry about. With radio broadcasts you are anonymous, and free to receive for no cost.

      They claim, even name Freely as FREE but ignore the fact it isnt. Freeview and Freesat are free, except for the license fee which is yearly. BUt Freely not only needs the licese fee, but also the broadband monthly costs. Suddently free to view TV skyrockets from the monthly cost of a TV license ( a few pounds a month) to £60 or more. I dread to think what that would be on mobiles. You’ll have to be savvy to constantly hunt deals to reduce it. It aint free by any means.

      So, what about all those who have NO broadband as they cant afford it, or have data on the mobile that lasts all of a week of watching Freely then must do without till mext month? Today, such people can simply turn on a TV and get TV for nothing! So Freely is going to change the, so that to get Free TV you must be affulent enough to pay for access.

      Why is this not an issue? Freely should come with free broadband and mobile data allowances.

      • Freely will support over-the-air channels (first via aerials and later via satellite on specific devices), in addition to the broadband-based channels – but the whole point is the broadband-based channels, otherwise it’s better to just stick with Freeview or Freesat.

    • If you dont have broadband you cant use Freely. The first generation of Freely TV’s will also be able to receive Freeview or Freesat.

      You have about 10 years before Freeview gets switched off, hopefully they will make Freely free to acccess by that time.

  3. It’s important that music TV channels are eliminated from Freely and will only be available on subscription by traditional satellite and cable. The Box and 4 Music are being closed so that Freeview will never have any music TV again, and all music channels have been eliminated from Sky Stream maintaining a clear and permanent difference between Sky Stream and the Sky Dish where MTV and even a few free music TV channels are permitted, for now. But can we be sure that (a) Freely will have NO music channels at launch, and (b) Freely will NEVER have a music TV channel? Futhermore there is sometimes music TV on the BBC Red Button. Can we be certain that the BBC Red Button will not be available on Freely, and that it will be reserved only for Freeview via an aerial, Sky Dish and traditional cable as at present? Otherwise the threat of free music TV could be allowed to grow unregulated with disastrous consequences for commercial radio. Music TV must only be permitted by subscription to MTV on traditional Dish or Cable. This is the effective status quo, with only a few restricted exceptions such as Clubland TV, awaiting closure.

    • The idea is to allow the BBC to continue charging for a TV license, don’t buy a compatible TV, don’t watch BBC or terrestrial live TV.
      Cancel your TV license save 170.00 a year give it to netflix Amazon.

      • Netflix and AMazon have a prro and very limited amount of content vs something like Freeview.

        All you get is the chance to perhaps what it when you prefer to. BUt you still get a small selection.

        The solution is to have both TV and a streaming service or two. Otherwise we will end up like the Americans

    • Why is it important for them to be banned from Freely?
      There is no reason whatsoever for them to be paid, why can’t those who use free TV have access to music channels?
      While we’re at it, music TV DOES stream on Sky Glass/Stream, heres the list:
      • B4U Music – 712
      • Kerrang! – 358
      • KISS – 356
      • Magic – 357
      • MTV – 137
      • MTV Music – 350
      • MTV Hits – 351
      • MTV 80s – 353
      • MTV 90s – 352
      • The Box – 355
      • 4Music – 354

  4. Clearly a few commentors have not read the article properly.
    Freely will operate by aerial , has to for those who do not have broad band . There will be the option of top set boxes so no need to upgrade tv again.
    Unless the tv is so old it will not support 1080p. (4k programming does not exsist on free to air or satellite ) 4k tvs provide an upscale from 1080p to a simulated 2k . ..
    My daughters 108p runs my old Sony watch only sky box (free to air) aerial for the rest and amazon stick for every thing else.. ps sky subscribers have a look at now tv app (part of sky) much cheaper same TV channels no tie in .
    I bet amazon will support freely when it launches

    • There are no set top boxes for Freely. As the article says, Freely is delivered only by broadband on new Freely TV’s and is not compatible with any TV’s before that.

      Everyone will need to replace their TV with a Freely one. Eventually perhaps set top boxes will be provided.

      Freely does not use aeirals or dishes, it is internet only. The article says that Freely TV’s will still come with tuners to let you have Freeview as well, at first.

    • Can’t see how to comment so I’m replying to this. The benefit of recording, not streaming is skipping the adverts. How do we do that on streaming?

      • Take itvX as an example. You can’t skip adverts watching live, whether on terrestrial or streaming (the itvX app, in some of its incarnations, let you watch linear* (live) TV).
        To skip adverts on On Demand, you can subscribe to itvX Premium, which cuts them out for you.
        If you record itvX on the EE (was BT) Pro box in terrestrial mode, you can skip the adverts when watching back.
        But if you record in IP mode, you can’t skip them – even if you have the Premium subscription.
        This is a taste of things to come, especially if other commercial channels follow suit; they can make recording unattractive.

        It will be interesting to see what Freely’s position on this is going to be, if a recorder for Freely becomes available,

  5. I just hope that my Humax will continue to chug along for as long as possible. I record any programmes on commercial TV channels and watch later so I can “jump” all the commercial breaks. I know why they have commercials but I don’t know why they have to be so dumb and boring, I just can’t stand them.

  6. 1. Will I be able to organise the tv channels into the positions I want in my favourites.
    2. Will I be abke to remotly set up recordings and delete recordings
    3. Will it have a 7 or 8 dat TV guide
    4. Will it have a Search function that shows all the prorammes on TV during the next week with the day time & channel.
    5 Please tell me it wont have the STUPID dark blue text on black bachground as the Manhatton box has so people cant read it

    • 1. No one knows yet.
      2. See 1, though being an onlime streaming syatem, I would assume yes.
      3. The article / Press release clearly states 7 days.
      4. Theirs clearly a magnifying glass icon on the images, also, the fact that Freely is to blend live TV and On Demand together, it will obviously show results for 7 days live TV, full series, catch-up / On Demand content.
      5. Theirs a load of images in the article and on Freely’s press release, it clearly shows white text on dark grey.

  7. Any idea.
    Can I record using freely.
    Will I be able to avail of all features e.g.finding material already shown on UK TV.
    I am located in Republic of Ireland
    John O’Brien

  8. They should also release this as an app for the likes of Apple TV’s, Firesticks etc, there is no real need to restrict to this to new televisions and down the line their own hardware.

    • The reason for this is to eventually replace Freeview / Freesat. Therefore it’ll be (they’re hoping) in all TVs just as Freeview is now.

  9. Broadcast tv is one way, any internet connection works in both directions. We all know the streamers collects lots of information on the viewing habits of their users. What information will Freely collect, who will own that data and how will it be used?
    Can Cordbusters ask Freely for their privacy policy?

  10. What of major sporting events? Sometimes contracts did not allow streaming. Has that era passed? Or will people find suddenly they’ve moved over and an event isn’t available?

  11. It never made sense to me TVs don’t come with the ability to Pause and Rewind Live TV.

    You only get this today if you have an additional device plugged in.

    Fitting memory to a TV would be cheap for manufacturers.

    So it’s good after over 20 years this will finally be a standard TV feature.

  12. a set top box connected to ethernet then a HDMI lead to a existing TV would sell (no aerial or satellite dish needed) if a new tv is needed for freely the take up will be very small.

          • I know it’s a long way off, but I read that the Sky Contracts with Astra need renewing in 2028 and it’s likely that they will not renew (they don’t offer satellite TV to new customers anymore, only Sky Stream or Sky Glass).
            If they don’t sign up it’s likely that Satellite TV in the UK will disappear.

      • Although they will be welcome when they come, I can’t see anything that they will do that you can’t already do by having ITVX, BBC iPlayer and the 4 and 5 apps on a FireTV/Roku/AppleTV/AndroidTV box. It looks like the only advantage of a Freely app would be a slightly simpler UI.

    • You’ve never been able to record if all you’ve got is a TV. Setttop boxes are coming later though.

      Millions dying record any more. It’s seen as less crucial.

  13. I’m assuming this will only be available on new devices and existing devices won’t receive a update to switch over to freely even if they support all the features that freely offer. I got a Freesat box a year ago and if it doesn’t receive a update to freely and I’ll have to get another box I’ll probably just keep the current box because it was kind of expensive and I expect the freely boxes to be the same.

    • They may support the features but they don’t have the Freely hardware.

      If you’re happy with Freesat you don’t need to replace it though. It’s for new purchases.

  14. There’s another reason they want to move to broadband: They want to turn off the high power transmitters which cost a great deal of money to power.

    • Though they are, for the foreseeable future continuing broadcasts on both terrestrial and satellite, so those savings won’t come quickly.

    • Broadcasters are required by law to provide terrestrial and extra-terrestrial distribution of their channels. The terrestrial distribution will be the last to go, as it is important to maintain it in order to prevent foreign intervention in broadcast systems, such as the shooting down of satellites. However, due to Europe’s current precarious situation, it is suspected that the government may hesitate to switch off the broadcast systems.


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