Freeview: death of linear TV ‘overstated’

Guy North

Guy North

The death of linear TV is not something that Freeview is experiencing, with the vast majority of people in the UK still tuning in live, according to Freeview managing director Guy North.

Speaking on a panel debate at TV Connect yesterday, North said that there is a “danger of overstating” the change in viewing habits.

However he conceded that the launch of its connected Freeview Play platform was to make sure the free-to-air DTT provider was “keeping up with our audiences’ expectations”.

“I think you’ll find a lot of people talking here about the death of linear TV and how much people are moving away from watching live – we’re really not seeing that at the moment though,” said North.

“Eighty-six percent of viewing is still to live TV in the UK and people are using mobile devices to supplement viewing rather than replace the existing viewing habits.”

Freeview launched its Play offering in October, offering broadcast TV integrated with on-demand and catch-up TV. “Over the coming years our vision is to make Freeview Play the new normal way of watching TV within the UK,” said North.

Also speaking on the panel, Damien Read, director of product marketing for Now TV, stressed that Sky’s standalone over-the-top service is not cannibalising its core pay TV offering.

“We generally know we are expanding the market. 90% of our viewers haven’t even considered Sky. We really see ourselves as focusing on this ‘pay-lite’ segment,” said Read.

He claimed that Now TV, which is available across devices and through a Now TV-branded streaming box, complements Sky and caters for people who want to “dip out of the odd series”.

Brain Morris, vice-president and general manager, media and entertainment services, Tata Communications, claimed that linear and over-the-top content tend to work “in conjunction with each other.”

The exec, whose role is to build media and entertainment applications that ride on top of Tata’s underwater infrastructure, said that OTT viewing is growing at a rate of about 40% a year while linear TV is declining “at a slow rate of about 5% year-on-year”.

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