2020 Priorities and progress
Welcome to A Year in Freeview, Digital UK and Freeview’s round-up of the most important developments for the UK’s biggest TV platform over the last twelve months.
As we all know, 2020 was a year like no other. Despite the challenges, it was a year of significant progress for Freeview. Freeview Play is now being used in more homes than ever, it’s available on more devices, with more high quality content and there are new ways to search for and access the programming that viewers love.
Through our teams’ dedication and determination alongside strong partnerships and collaboration across the industry, we are now delivering more for UK viewers than ever before. Against a backdrop of debate on the future of public service broadcasting, Freeview continues to be the cornerstone of the UK’s PSB system with a service that delivers high quality, highly trusted, regulated content, for free and for all.
Freeview Play now on more devices than ever
With over 12 million sales since launch and nearly nine million users, our connected TV service Freeview Play continues to go from strength to strength. Last year we were delighted to have agreed a number of landmark deals with both new and existing partners, making Freeview Play available on more TV models than ever before and helping us secure universality in a digital era.
We announced a new partnership with Google to bring Freeview Play to Android TV. Since then we have seen the range of Freeview Play Android-enabled TVs grow rapidly with products from Sharp, Vestel, Phillips, TCL and most recently Panasonic. Humax has also recently released a new Android recorder. Freeview Play now accounts for over 90% of many TV brands’ ranges.
We confirmed a new five year agreement with existing partner Vestel, Europe’s largest set manufacturer and a market leader in the UK producing TVs for more than 20 brands, including JVC, Hitachi and Toshiba. Vestel sells more TVs across its full range of brands than any other manufacturer in the UK.
And just in time for Christmas, Freeview Play arrived on selected Amazon Fire TV Edition sets in an agreement that saw a global platform recognise the importance of content from free-to-air broadcasters and the on-going role of live linear TV in the UK.
These new deals mean that Freeview Play was available on over 3.5 million TVs and set top boxes sold in 2020.
Freeview Play ensures that UK viewers can easily find and access UK content from public service broadcasters and other free-to-air channels.
With the latest smart TVs offering a variety of streaming services from global providers, Freeview Play delivers prominence for the UK’s leading broadcasters across all routes to content including search and recommendations, the remote control and the user interface.
With a constant flow of new devices entering the UK market, ensuring British content is easily discoverable remains a focus of our work.
With more content than ever before
Last year Freeview brought more content to UK viewers than ever before with several new services launching on Freeview Play, a new linear channel and for the first time ever, Premier League football on live terrestrial TV.
Sony’s Pop Player joined Freeview Play in the autumn bringing with it an exciting range of content for 4-11 year olds. The launch was made possible through a partnership with Simplestream, whose new HbbTV player app paves the way for other content providers to bring on demand availability to their Freeview channels.
In early Autumn, BBC Sounds arrived on Freeview Play with its vast library of live and on demand audio services.
As perhaps the world’s first HbbTV audio playback application, additional testing and development were required to get it up and running, and we are delighted to have such a unique service available for viewers.
Another of the year’s achievements includes our collaboration with STV to bring its library of in-house produced and exclusively licensed content to viewers across the whole of the UK. STV Player now sits alongside all the other great on demand players on Freeview Play, available for free across the UK and its content is fully integrated into search and recommendations results.
September saw the launch of Sky’s award-winning channel focused on theatre, art, dance, music and literature – Sky Arts. With the creative industries under serious threat, the channel threw open its doors and is now free for everyone to watch, redoubling its mission to increase access to the arts and get the whole nation involved as the industry recovers.
In its first month on Freeview, the channel’s average daily audience rose four-fold, it attracted nine million viewers who had not watched in the month before and its top 10 shows attracted an average audience of 220,000 compared with 60,000 the month before.