The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have agreed to plough £100m into a new connected TV service from Freeview in a move that could challenge YouView, as the same broadcasters withdraw their financial support for the platform.
Freeview Connect, the new platform, comes as the same free-to-air broadcasters scale back their financial investment in YouView having previously supported it since 2010.
While the broadcasters remain shareholders in YouView, the set top box which offers access to BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD, some say that it has been hijacked by BT and TalkTalk who distribute the boxes as part of their Pay-TV businesses, with customers tied into broadband services or subscription bundles.
Of the 1m YouView set-top boxes installed in the UK, only around 30,000 were bought unsubsidised on the high street.
Ilse Howling, previously managing director of Freeview, has been appointed to run the connected TV division at Digital UK, which is leading the development of Freeview Connect, and will lead a new team to develop the set top box working in close co-operation with manufacturers and other industry groups.
“The company is well placed to develop the next generation specification and work with the supply chain to support a new, mass market service to make connected TV available free, for everyone,” said Howling.
Freeview’s former marketing communications director, Guy North, has taken over as managing director of Freeview.
“Freeview is at the heart of the nation’s viewing and I’m proud to be leading the company into the next chapter of its history,” said North.