Broadcasters take on streaming giants with £125m Freeview investment

Josh Mines
The money will be partially used to fund a new Freeview app (Source: Freeview)

British broadcasters have joined forces to fend off fierce competition from streaming giants Netflix and Amazon.

BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 along with network operator Arqiva, who are the four shareholders of Digital UK, will invest £125m over the next five years in Freeview in an effort to take on the TV titans.

Cash will go towards the development of a new app to let viewers access live and on-demand Freeview content on smartphones and tablets. The app is expected to launch later this year.

Read more: ITV and BBC in talks over UKTV joint venture

Digital UK will lead the charge through a new strategy, which aims to carry on "cord cutting" as viewers make their own "skinny bundles" which include free-to-view TV and low-cost streaming services.

Since 2016, Freeview has increased the number of sets in UK homes by a million, up to 11.4m sets - making it Britain's largest TV platform. Approximately 19m homes use Freeview on a main or secondary set. Figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board in January found that Netflix had around 8m subscribers in the UK, while Amazon Prime Video has over 100m viewers globally.

Jonathan Thompson, chief executive of Digital UK, said:

As the UK’s TV landscape becomes increasingly impacted by global players, this new commitment from our shareholders is a major boost for UK viewers. Building on this spirit of collaboration, we will not only safeguard free-to-view TV but reinvent it for a new age of viewing.

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