British TV companies are set to launch a new free live TV streaming service called Freely in 2024. The service will allow viewers to browse and watch live TV channels, as well as stream on-demand content to their smart TVs via the internet. Freely aims to replicate the experience of terrestrial TV, similar to the existing Freeview TV platform.
Freely is being developed Everyone TV, an organization jointly owned the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, which runs free TV in the UK. This new service represents a significant investment in streaming, highlighting the shift in consumer preferences towards flexible content delivery.
The CEO of Everyone TV, Jonathan Thompson, expressed excitement about the collaboration with public service broadcasters, stating that it reflects the growing number of UK viewers who watch content online but still desire easy access to the shared experience of live TV.
According to data from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board, on average, 57% of viewing time per person per day is dedicated to live broadcasts across all devices. The data also shows that 14% of UK TV homes are broadband-only homes.
Everyone TV stated that Freely will help ensure the availability of public service broadcasting services in the future and will complement the provisions set out in the draft Media Bill. The draft bill aims to support public service broadcasters in competing with subscription-based online platforms and making their content more accessible on smart TVs, set-top boxes, and streaming sticks.
The broadcasters involved in the project hope that this new service will cater to the evolving viewing habits of their audience. The director-general of the BBC, Tim Davie, highlighted the importance of sustaining the universality of public-service television, ensuring that all audiences can access content in the digital age. Similarly, the CEO of Channel 4, Alex Mahon, emphasized the need for trusted public service broadcasting content to be readily available to everyone for free, particularly with streaming becoming the new normal for audiences.
Sources: Variety, Everyone TV