Freeview Play is a UK based live and on-demand TV app, pre-installed on select TVs and available on set-top boxes. The app is often considered the answer to the failures of modern television. Premium on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Now TV have been eliminating the market that broadcast TV was enjoying, and Freeview Play was the murder weapon to help fight back. Freeview Play is NOT available in the US, mainly due to the type of tuner used and the territorial license of the content on demand.
Exactly what is Play with DTT?
Freeview Play essentially combines live TV and on-demand content, all gathered in one place. The platform includes content from the likes of BBC iPlayer, The ITV Center, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play, making it easy for you to catch up on all your favorite shows. Plus, there is content from more than 70 digital channels and 15 HD channels to enjoy, which are also available for Freeview (without the word Play). Your TV or recorder has to connect to the internet and voila, all without spending a penny like you do with other services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
With devices like Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV 4K Stick, Playstation 4 (PS4), and Xbox One, is a Freeview Play set-top box a smart investment? Will it be enough to turn the tide and convince a younger audience, not because of the outdated notion of scheduled television? Is it worth rushing in and buying a dedicated box right now, or should you go for a TV with the app?
For those of you who are still undecided about Freeview Play, here are five things to know before you go out and buy a new Freeview Play-enabled device.
Freeview Play has expanded since its launch
In simple terms, Freeview Play is a version of Freeview where live TV is presented smoothly along with update / on-demand content. The app uses an antenna for local television broadcasting and an internet connection for on-demand features. When you browse your Electronic Program Guide (EPG), you can go back a whole week and see everything you missed.
It currently supports the following UK on-demand / retrieval services: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play. That works out to over 70 channels, and the Freeview Play boxes / TVs also support subscription apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, and BBC Sport.
Freeview playback boxes are expensive
In the US, the competition is fierce when it comes to gearboxes, and many aren’t even a box. However, UK set-top boxes are in demand, especially those using the Freeview Play app. Why is Freeview Play so popular? The app draws a lot of attention due to its ability to play, record and replay aerial / aerial television broadcasts, as well as the ability to watch tons of content on demand for free. You can check out our guide list of Freeview Play kits here.
However, if you plan to buy a new TV, there are already plenty of them on the market with built-in Freeview Play tuners. Surprisingly, TVs are not that expensive. unsurprisingly, but they are still a bit higher than the competitive prices of similar TVs in the US.
Freeview Play is an open platform
Freeview Play is not a fixed service like Now TV or Sky, which means that individual manufacturers can tailor the service to their devices however they wish. This benefit means that for UK residents, depending on their device, they could end up with additional features, internet connectivity and services not offered with other Freeview Play equipment.
While all Freeview Play devices can be updated with new Freeview additions or changes, other pre-installed services depend on the manufacturer. For example, a tool developed by Freeview will appear on every Freeview Play device, while Humax, LG or Panasonic can add something else that only their devices receive.
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Freeview Play is likely to become the future standard
Freeview has a heritage in dominating the television market. More people use Freeview than Freesat, and while Sky has a massive market share, Sky is not free. It’s easy to see that Freeview Play could become the new standard for TV tuners in the UK.
The momentum behind Freeview Play has accelerated now that LG has teamed up with Panasonic and Humax to offer the app on their new smart TVs, but it’s still a relatively limited portion of the TV market. If Freeview Play takes off, more manufacturers are likely to follow suit, but the service has a steep hill to climb.
Freeview Play’s competitor, YouView, is built into many of Sony’s Bravia TVs. The app is also part of TalkTalk television and is supported by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and BT, a formidable lineup.
If Freeview Play is the future, there’s no need to adopt immediately
Since its inception in 2001, Freeview has become the default way of watching television for millions of people in the UK. While the market has changed since then, especially with the introduction of YouView, it’s hard to imagine Freeview Play not remaining the standard unless YouView manages to forge enough partnerships with TV manufacturers.
So there’s no need to rush to buy a UK Play-enabled set-top box or Blu-ray player in the UK just yet.