Freeview & Digital UK plan YouView rival

June 5, 2014 10.00 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Retuning_a_Freeview_TVFreeview and Digital UK have announced plans to develop a new Freeview-branded connected TV service that will immediately draw comparisons with the existing YouView platform.

Digital UK provides the operational support for the UK DTT platform including management of the Freeview electronic programme guide. It’s owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva, all of which are directly involved in Freeview and YouView.

The companies are backing a five-year plan to support the development and marketing of a connected TV proposition.

The new offer will give viewers easy access to both broadcast and on-demand TV, including a range of popular catch-up players.

Ilse Howling
Ilse Howling

Freeview managing director Ilse Howling has been appointed as managing director, Connected TV at Digital UK and will lead a new team to develop the product specification for the new service working in close co-operation with manufacturers and industry bodies and based on open standards.

Freeview’s former marketing communications director, Guy North, has taken over the role as managing director of Freeview.

It’s planned for manufacturers to launch a new range of connected Freeview HD televisions and boxes which consumers will be able to buy in store.

Details on launch timing and a brand name for the new service are to be confirmed.

“The company is well placed to develop the next generation specification and work with the supply chain to support a new, mass market service to make connected TV available free, for everyone,” said Howling.

The former Freeview boss has made no secret of her desire to continue pushing Freeview towards connectivity. As long ago as June 2012 she was putting the case for Freeview to continue well beyond the DTT switchover. Howling has referred to ‘Freeview Connect’, which has emerged as the working title for the project.

The arrival of telco shareholders BT and TalkTalk in the YouView platform initially established by the public broadcasters has brought about a rethink. But last month the BBC Trust backed the BBC’s continued involvement in the platform, but with conditions.

These included the swift introduction of new specifications that will allow content providers to deliver content without being required to use BT or Talk Talk’s delivery network, subject to the minimum quality standard.