Freesat turns up competition with launch of catch-up TV without a monthly subscription

FREESAT, the free-to-air digital satellite television service, is ramping up competition with subscription products with the launch today of catch-up television.

Its new hi-tech boxes will allow viewers to watch programmes up to eight days after broadcast – a service that has until now been offered by subscription services such as Virgin Media and YouView.

A spokesman for Freesat yesterday denied rumours that it would increase competition still further with a tie-up with on-demand service Netflix, but said it plans to launch additional paid-for movie and music services in the future.

“We continue to talk to a number of different service providers. We will announce launches only when confirmed,” he said.

Freesat hailed its new set-top box – the first model priced at £279 – as its greatest improvement since its 2008 launch.

As well as on-demand downloads, it allows users to catch up on programmes and flags up the latest highlights, such as last weekend’s return of Dr Who.

The on-demand service currently includes programmes from its joint owners, BBC and ITV, but will extend to 4OD and Demand 5 by Christmas.

The company also pledged to introduce apps for remote control from smartphones and tablets.

While 2.6m have taken up the service, Freesat is targeting a possible 14m.