UK set for new free TV service to take on Netflix

A new free TV service that combines live schedules from public service broadcasters (PSBs) into one platform will be made available next year.

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 announced that viewers with TV licences will soon be able to browse and watch live TV channels together with on-demand content streamed straight to their smart TV via the internet.

Freely will be built in to smart TVs and feature a line-up of PSBs and other free-to-air channels.

It will be run by Everyone TV, previously named Digital UK, which is the platform operator of Freeview and its satellite twin Freesat.

Director-general of the BBC Tim Davie said: ‘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.

From 2024, viewers will be able to browse channels through a programme guide and use new functions to find shows directly from live TV.

Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV chief executive, said: ‘As more and more UK households use internet-connected TVs, it’s critical that the public service broadcaster channels remain available and easy for them to find.

‘This new collaboration enables the UK public to continue to get all of their favourite British TV channels, for free – just as Freeview did at the advent of digital TV.’

Everyone TV is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The company’s chief executive, Jonathan Thompson, said: ‘Our aim is to ensure that all viewers have access to a free, aggregated live TV experience that champions British content and is delivered in a way that suits audience needs and preferences.

‘Every one of us should be able to share in the best of British ideas and creativity on TV.’

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