For those who’re considering canceling their Sky TV subscription after its recent price hike, they may find an alternative entertainment solution in the shape of the recently announced Freely platform, which plans to launch this spring.
Freely, which will be totally free to view, is the new creation of Everyone TV, the company behind the Freesat and Freeview Play services. What makes Freely different from those offerings is that it will beam live and on-demand content to households over broadband, as opposed to using an aerial or satellite.
This means Freely is going up against the new Sky Glass TVs and Sky Stream boxes, which also use the web instead of traditional over-the-air signals.
For sure, Freely won’t provide access to the same blockbuster movies or live football that Sky delivers, but it will include more than 70 live TV channels in its offering, together with a host of on-demand content. And did we mention that it’s entirely free?
While we’re waiting for its spring launch, Freely has offered a little hint at what viewers can come to expect, showcasing its new service to the Mirror, and by their account it looks like a pretty decent offering.
The Freely TV guide looks the part, with a simple layout that’s packed with information about the various channels and shows it offers, making it easy to find things to watch. Besides the standard TV guide, there’s also a “mini guide” feature that pops up when the user switches channels, which Freely said will make it easier to find on-demand content. In addition, the company plans to include a dedicated button on the remote control of some of its launch partners.
Regarding those partners, Freely had previously announced that Hisense will be one of them, and this week it said it will also collaborate with the TV manufacturer Vestel, which makes TVs for more than 20 different brands including JVC, Toshiba and Bush. So anyone who buys a new TV from one of those brands can expect to find Freely pre-installed, meaning they won’t have to search for it themselves. It’s not clear if the app will also come to older TVs from those companies via an update, though clearly that’s something Freely will hope for.
Freely’s joint chief product officers Sarah Milton and Carl Pfeiffer said in a statement that it has become clear that people are changing their TV habits, preferring broadband connections over traditional telly signals.
"We’ve built Freely around the needs of British audiences, bringing them the freedom to choose how they want to watch, with all their favourite shows from the UK’s leading broadcasters all in one place for free,” they said in a statement. “We’re really proud of what we’re launching with Freely and are excited about bringing major enhancements like the MiniGuide to viewers as Freely launches in Q2 this year.”