UK PSBs jointly owned free streamer Freely goes live

Freely, the new free-to-view hybrid IP and broadcast platform, backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 via their jointly-owned Everyone TV, is now live in the UK.

The new streaming service which was first announced in September, will enable broadcasters and video service providers to deliver a set-top-like user experience on smart TVs without the need for a set-top, and help transition them in time to a fully IP-based future.

According to Everyone TV, Freely will future-proof live TV, with the service marking the first time all four of UK’s public service broadcasters have come together to launch a streaming proposition.

Pubcasters STV in Scotland and S4C in Wales will also bring their channels and on demand content to Freely, via broadband.

Freely is built into the next generation of smart TVs, with Hisense announced as the first partner to offer Freely from 2024, in a five-year deal. TiVo, a subsidiary of Xperi Inc., will also be offering Freely as part of its TiVo OS platform. It will also be available via Vestel smart TVs Powered by TiVo, with Vestel Freely TVs due to launch in the coming weeks.

Kieran Clifton, director, BBC distribution & business development, said: “The launch of Freely is a historic moment for UK television. Collaboration between the UK PSBs is critical to connecting and protecting all audiences as we transition towards the streaming era – and delivering live TV over broadband for free is a ground-breaking innovation that will futureproof public service broadcasting.”

Martin Goswami, ITV group strategic partnerships and distribution director, said: “The success and impact of programmes like ITV’s Mr Bates vs the Post Office shows the importance of UK PSBs and ITV is proud to be part of this exciting new chapter for free TV in this country with Freely. Bringing live streamed channels and on demand content together in Freely gives viewers the opportunity to access the very best in British content as easily as possible, from live and recent programmes to a wealth of on-demand options.”

Grace Boswood, technology & distribution director, Channel 4, said: “Freely will deliver the best of Britain’s world-leading public service content seamlessly and for free. It further supports Channel 4’s Fast Forward strategy as we accelerate our transformation into the streaming age, ensuring our trusted, brand-safe content is available to everyone.”

James Tatam, SVP business & revenue for Channel 5, said: “We’re delighted to be part of Freely, which will ensure UK audiences can continue to easily discover and enjoy original, high quality British programmes from Channel 5 and the other public service broadcasters – live and on-demand, for free.”

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