Freeview’s Heir: Major TV Brands To Get Freely At Launch

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As Freely gears up for its upcoming launch, the broadband-based Freeview/Freesat replacement service has just announced a partnership with another major TV manufacturer – Vestel.

Freely is set to merge traditional broadcasting with modern streaming, aiming to bring live TV over broadband to the next generation of Smart TVs (with Freeview and Freesat sticking around for those who prefer them).

Responsible for more than twenty well-known TV brands, such as JVC, Hitachi, Toshiba and more – the collaboration with Vestel signifies a considerable step towards ensuring a wide adoption of Freely.

With over a third of smart TV brands now poised to support Freely at launch, the service promises a seamless integration of live and on-demand television, heralding a significant transformation in how viewers access free-to-air content.

Freely UI show page bake off
Freely’s interface

However, compatibility concerns remain, as Freely is still set to only support next-gen Smart TVs at launch, and not set-top boxes or standalone streaming sticks.

Freely Explained

Freely is a forthcoming service, expected to launch in Q2, 2024 – that merges live and on-demand television content via broadband, diverging from the traditional aerial or satellite reliance of Freeview and Freesat.

This means that alongside standard broadcast channels (Freely will continue to support DTT – over-the-air transmissions), viewers will also have access to a variety of IP-delivered channels once their Freely-compatible devices are connected to the internet.

Developed by Everyone TV, the company behind Freeview and Freesat, Freely aims to modernize the UK’s free-to-air broadcast experience.

Freely Freeview Freesat collage

The service is expected to feature a range of channels, likely including all offerings from the public service broadcasters and other free-to-air channels currently available on Freeview and Freesat (though not necessarily all of them).

Freely’s user interface is designed to be modern and intuitive, addressing the evolving needs of today’s viewers, with a brand new EPG (see more about Freely’s interface, which was unveiled today, here).

Freely: Only On Smart TVs, For Now

The introduction of Freely, earmarked exclusively for the next-generation of Smart TVs, does raise some concerns about its compatibility and broader acceptance.

Unlike the universally accessible Freeview (which only requires an aerial and a supported device – of which there are countless options), Freely’s limitation to only new Smart TVs excludes older models, existing streaming devices, and traditional Freeview boxes from its ecosystem.

This approach necessitates viewers to invest in new televisions to access Freely’s services, potentially creating a barrier for those unable or unwilling to upgrade.

Furthermore, popular streaming devices such as the Fire TV or Roku, and upcoming new Freeview recorders, such as the Manhattan T4-R, will not support Freely at launch.

Manhattan T4-R Next to TV
Manhattan T4-R Freeview Recorder

Therefore, Freely viewers will have to purchase brand-new Smart TVs, so agreements with TV manufacturers are crucial if the service wants to get a considerable share of the UK audience.

Freely Expanding Its TV Lineup

The initial announcement of Hisense as a launch partner, late last year, was a pivotal moment for Freely.

The multinational technology manufacturer signed a five-year deal with Freely, which marked the first line of devices that will support the upcoming service.

But one TV manufacturer is not enough for a brand new service aiming to take over the free-to-watch market, and today’s announcement, bringing Vestel into the fold, is another important step for Freely.

Photo: Deposit Photos / Woland Master

Vestel, a significant manufacturer in the European TV market, has entered into a five-year agreement with Freely, to integrate the platform into its range of smart TVs, including well-known brands such as Toshiba, Bush, and JVC.

Much like Freeview and Freeview Play are integrated into Smart TVs today, Freely will be running its native guide on Vestel TVs, giving users a streamlined viewing experience.

Freely promises to provide a consistent and recognisable user experience across all Freely-enabled TVs in the market, regardless of how it is accessed. So, if you have two separate TVs in the house, Freely’s interface will look the same on both of them.

Freely UI EPG
Freely’s EPG

Atinc Ogut, Vice President of TV Product Management, Vestel said: “We are thrilled to announce our further partnership and commitment to the latest innovation in television technology, by offering customers TVs that are compatible with Freely.

“The collaboration not only enhances the functionality of our TVs but also empowers users to freely stream their favourite shows, live and on demand, all from a single, unified platform.

“As one of the TV manufacturers now compatible with Freely, we’re proud to be setting the standard for the future of television.”

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