Panasonic will make Freeview Play available in its new 2015 line-up of Viera TVs and will launch Freeview Play recorders at a later date. Vestel will follow with a range of Freeview Play products, according to Freeview.
The news contradicts claims by California-based TV maker Seiki at this year’s Consumer Electronics show. It announced it would be the first to introduce HD sets featuring Freeview’s connected TV service in the UK by the third quarter of this year.
Freeview is yet to announce an official launch date for when the first Freeview Play products will come to market.
“We believe that Freeview Play will put viewers back in control and we’re delighted that Panasonic is our first TV launch partner. Freeview Play will be integrated into a number of TVs in the new Viera range, giving people the freedom to choose across a range of price points. We look forward to welcoming more products from other partners later this year,” said Freeview managing director, Guy North.
At the same time, Freeview has confirmed that Channel 5’s catch-up service Demand 5 will also join the Freeview Play platform alongside the BBC’s iPlayer, ITV Player and Channel 4’s 4oD – which is due to be rebranded as All 4 from the end of this quarter.
Freeview unveiled Freeview Play at a press conference earlier this month, claiming it marked an “evolution” for the Freeview brand and would take viewers from digital to connected TV services, in a similar way that Freeview boxes had previously moved customers from analogue to digital.
“It’s great news that Panasonic will be the first of many to bring TVs with Freeview Play to viewers. I’m also pleased that Demand 5 will be joining our line-up of great, free, on-demand players. Digital UK is working closely with manufacturers and broadcasters to develop our exciting new service and bring the benefits of connected TV to everyone, free from subscription,” said Ilse Howling, managing director, connected TV, at Digital UK.
Last year, Panasonic was also the first manufacturer to launch smart TV sets featuring free digital platform rival Freesat’s similar Freetime service.