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Living with Freeview Play

What is Freeview Explore?

Freeview Explore is a new way to access Freeview Play on demand content.

With Freeview Explore you can access all our On Demand players, search our complete library of content, browse our regularly updated recommended programmes and get support from the Help & Advice section.

How do I access Freeview Explore?

You can access Freeview Explore by selecting the Freeview Play app in your Freeview Play TVs apps page or visiting channel 100 on your Freeview Play TV.

Will Freeview Explore be available on all Televisions and Set Top Boxes?

Freeview Explore will be available across the majority of Freeview Play devices.

Not all TV brands will offer their customers this functionality, and may instead introduce their own variations on search, recommendations and player apps.

How do I use the Freeview Explore area?

You’ll see all your favourite Players near the top of the app listed in a rotating carousel. Above this in the top right-hand corner is our Search functionality where you can search our complete library of content.

In the bottom half of the screen are the top programme picks from all our content providers. You can move between different categories of recommendations like Comedy or Entertainment to get different picks depending on your interests or mood.

You can navigate the screen using the directional buttons on your remote control. Once you’ve selected a programme you would like to watch, press OK and your programme will begin to play.

How do I set up my Freeview Play TV or recorder?

To begin with, make sure your aerial is plugged in securely to the back of your Freeview Play TV or recorder.

If you don’t have an aerial you will need to speak to an aerial installer to get an aerial fitted.  In some cases you may find you can use an indoor aerial if there is a good signal in the room.

Diagram showing aerial connections

When you turn on your TV for the first time, you’ll be taken through a few instructions:

  • You might be prompted to choose your language or you may even be asked to choose between ‘Home’ or ‘Shop’ mode – select ‘Home’.
  • Set up an internet connection with your TV or recorder through Wi-Fi or a wired connection (Ethernet/LAN cable)*. Just make sure you know the name of your home network and password – this is usually found at the bottom of your modem.

Diagram showing location of name of home network and password on router

  • Patience may be needed. Adding a password with a remote can be tricky, but you only have to enter it once. To enter your password, check on screen for instructions.
  • If you’re having trouble connecting to the web, contact your broadband provider or check your connection speed and signal strength.
  • Often the television or recorder software needs updating; it’s best to do this if requested. It may take a little while but it is important you do not interrupt this process once started.
  • Select your country or region if required.
  • Next, your TV or recorder will scan for the available Freeview channels – this will take a few minutes. Usually it will find the strongest signal and therefore the best region for you. But if there’s an overlap between them, you can choose the best one for you.
  • The manufacturer may have some additional services you have to agree to, then you can start watching TV.

To start enjoying catch up go to the TV guide. For example, whilst you’re on BBC One, use the arrow keys to scroll to the left on the TV guide and you will see the catch up programmes available to you. Use the arrow keys to choose which programme you want to watch and then press ‘OK’. The programme will launch in the on demand player, all you have to do is press ‘OK’ on the ‘Play’ icon.

*A minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps is required to watch catch up and on demand services – this will count towards any monthly broadband data allowance. Only selected channels provide 7-day catch up.

Why isn’t catch-up available in the EPG for ITV HD and Channel 4 HD?

At present, catch-up content from ITV and Channel 4 is not available via their HD channels in the TV guide, only through the standard definition channels. However, we hope to include programme links on ITV and Channel 4 HD channels at a later date.

Can I Get UKTV Play on Freeview Play?

Yes. UKTV Play launched on Freeview Play apps page on the 24 August 2016.

Most Freeview Play devices will automatically update when you connect to the Freeview Play apps page. The UKTV icon will appear here, alongside BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub, All 4 and Demand 5. The TV guide will populate with catch-up programmes over the next day or two.

Humax Freeview Play devices will need to be running the latest software version (which you should already have been prompted to download if you have a Humax box). If you haven’t downloaded this yet, the app will appear, but might not function properly until the necessary software update has been downloaded.

For some TVs branded JVC and Finlux, UKTV play will be available after an update on 16 October.

How will I know which programmes are available on catch up?

Depending on the product, there are two main ways to watch catch up TV within the TV guide:

  1. On some TVs and recorders the catch up programmes shown depend on which channel you’re watching. When you scroll back in the TV guide, you should see catch up TV programmes that are available from the last 7 days for that channel.
  2. Alternatively you will see the full TV guide for all channels as you scroll back. Here, you will find available catch up programmes identified with an icon.

Not all programmes are available for catch up as the rights need to be cleared with programme makers eg US TV series and films are not always available.

Catch up from the TV guide is not available for ITV HD and C4 HD channels.

What other services are available?

There is plenty on offer once you have connected to the internet*. You can watch a range of streaming channels from different free to air providers, this includes specialist channels, global news services, and foreign language channels. These channels are available from 225-250 on your TV guide. Pay streaming services with additional premium channels are also available.

When watching a BBC channel, press the red button on your remote to access Red Button+. Here you can watch TV highlights, news, sport, children’s TV, check the weather and the lottery results. You can also access services like BBC Sport and BBC News (for exclusive content and breaking news) if you go to the Freeview Play apps page.

In addition, on the apps page for each product, there will be a range of other services like YouTube and paid services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV.

*A minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps is required to watch catch up and on demand services – this will count towards any monthly broadband data allowance. Only selected channels provide 7-day catch up.

What about settings for individual players?

Currently, you’ll have to set your preferences for each player – this will allow you to:

  • Change the parental lock settings. You can set a pin to restrict content intended for those over the age of 16
  • Access the ‘help’ section, so you can make the most of your viewing

In most cases the players will play videos at the best quality according to the speed of your internet connection*. BBC iPlayer gives you choice between this and standard definition – so check your settings before you start viewing. Simply go to:

Settings>video quality>best quality

*A minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps is required to watch catch up and on demand services – this will count towards any monthly broadband data allowance. Only selected channels provide 7-day catch up.

How do I navigate the players?

Browsing the players is easy on Freeview Play, but it varies depending on manufacturer.

For Panasonic TVs, access the players by going to the Freeview Play apps page (press ‘Ok’ on the remote to see this option). Select the player you want then just use the arrow keys and the ‘Ok’ button on your remote to find a programme to watch.

For Humax recorders, press the ‘Home’ button and select ‘On demand’ from the menu.

Why would I watch catch up in SD instead of HD?

In general, it’s best to go to each player and watch a programme in the best video quality possible. However, you might want to watch in SD (standard definition) rather than HD (high definition) to reduce data usage or buffering. BBC iPlayer offers this option; the ITV Hub and All 4 will attempt to adjust to the quality of your internet connection*.

*A minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps is required to watch catch up and on demand services – this will count towards any monthly broadband data allowance. Only selected channels provide 7-day catch up.

How will the Freeview Play line-up of players vary between England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

Freeview Play offers BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub and All 4 as the standard options wherever you are in the UK.

However, in Scotland certain ITV programmes are licensed through STV – which is due to join the Freeview Play line up in autumn 2015. When STV becomes available, you will be able to enjoy these catch up programmes licensed from ITV through the STV channel on the TV guide or via the STV Player on the Freeview Play apps page. ITV2 and ITV3 programmes will still be available through the ITV Hub.

At present, there are no plans for a UTV player in Northern Ireland to join the Freeview Play line up. The ITV Hub will be available through the Freeview Play apps page.

In England and Wales, you can watch all ITV channels from the ITV Hub.

Why are software updates important?

When you first buy your Freeview Play TV or recorder it may not have the Freeview Play software available at the outset. During the set up process you’ll be asked to update the latest software, make sure you choose this option to get Freeview Play.

From time to time, software updates are made available for your TV or recorder. Manufacturers carry out these upgrades to ensure that you get the latest features and bug fixes. Sometimes this might include updates to the Freeview Play services. This is why it’s important to follow the upgrade through to the end without turning off your product. Just follow the onscreen instructions and wait a few minutes while the TV restarts.

Check for Panasonic TV upgrades

Check for Humax recorders upgrades

What about search or recommendation features?

Starting in Spring 2017 search and recommendation features are being added across the range of manufacturers over time.  In fact, Freeview Play has been designed to allow for the addition of a number of advanced functions so new features will continue to appear.

Why can’t I see certain programmes in the TV guide when I look for catch up?

The broadcasters do not have the rights to make all programmes available on demand. When you scroll back in the TV guide, only those programmes where the rights have been agreed will be available to view. Examples of programmes where the rights issues are more complicated are feature films, US TV series and other programmes from abroad, music and sport.

Note: ITV HD and C4 HD channels do not display catch up programmes at present.

Can I watch the start of live BBC programme if I missed the start?

Yes. BBC iPlayer’s Live Restart feature lets you jump back to the beginning of a programme without having to wait for it to end, just hit ‘Watch from start’. To use this feature, go to the Freeview Play apps page, click on the BBC iPlayer app and find the programme you want to watch.

How many programmes are available to view on demand on Freeview Play?

Currently programmes are available from BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play in many cases for up to 30 days. This means that at any one time there could be several thousand programmes available to view. As more players are added to the service over time, this number will increase.

If I get only the most popular TV channels at my address will I find more programmes on Freeview Play?

If you’re in one of the few areas in the UK that only gets the top channels, then with Freeview Play you will also be able to watch programmes on demand that are not available to you from live channels – for example, ITV3, ITV4 and E4.