British TV companies are launching a new free live TV streaming service in 2024, a massive boon for cord cutters.
The British broadcasters on Monday unveiled Freely, a service that will enable viewers to browse and watch live TV channels as well as stream on-demand content to their smart TVs via the internet. Freely will be built into the next generation of smart TVs and aims to replicate the terrestrial TV experience, like the existing Freeview TV platform.
Freely is being developed by Everyone TV, an organization jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 that runs free TV in the U.K.
The plans for a new service represents a massive investment in streaming, underscoring the idea that more consumers prefer flexibility in how they receive their content, but want some level of familiarity with how it’s presented.
“We are delighted to be working with the public service broadcasters on the next phase of free TV’s evolution,” Everyone TV CEO Jonathan Thompson said in a statement. “This new development is a reflection of the fact that a growing number of UK viewers are watching content online, but still want easy access to the shared experience of live TV.”
On average, 57% of viewing time is live broadcast per person per day, across all devices, according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board via Variety. The data also reflected that 14% of U.K. TV homes are currently broadband-only homes.
“[Freely] will help ensure the availability of PSB (public service broadcasting) services into the future and complement the new provisions for on-demand and streaming prominence, set out in the draft Media Bill,” Everyone TV said in a statement.
The draft Media Bill, published in March, aims to help British public service broadcasters like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, STV and S4C, better compete with subscription-based online platforms. The draft Bill also includes measures to make public service broadcast content more accessible and easily discoverable on smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks.
The broadcasters expressed their hope that this new service can address their audience’s changing viewing habits.
“Ensuring the universality of public-service television is sustained into the future is of paramount importance to the UK and all its public service broadcasters,” Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, said. “We are delighted to be deepening our collaboration in helping viewers access our content, ensuring that, in a digital age, we deliver value for all audiences and that no one is left behind.”
“Streaming TV is increasingly the new normal for audiences, particularly young viewers, so it has never been more important for trusted PSB content to be readily available to everyone, for free,” Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said in a statement.