BBC Teams Up With ITV, Channel 4 To Secure Its Catch-Up TV Future

Public service broadcasters join forces to make sure their digital services appear on your internet-enabled TV in years to come.

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What will happen to public service TV in the internet age? The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are working together to make sure their digital services don't get ignored as we move to internet-connected TVs.

The trio are launching Freeview Connect, an initiative to make sure their online catchup services are included as standard on Smart TVs, The Guardian reports.

So when you buy a TV and it has online services like Netflix, Sky Go and LoveFilm, the BBC wants its iPlayer to be there as well, as standard.

We watch tons of TV – an average of four hours per day per person. But the industry can't agree on how the technology is going to work in future.

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At the moment, some 19.3 million households currently receive digital TV via Freeview, either through their main or second TV, (according to BARB), making it the single most popular TV platform in the UK, ahead of Sky.

It's simple to use and a great deal for the customer: you need to pay the £145.50 TV licence fee, but other that Freeview really is free.

Smart TVs are growing in popularity with seven percent of households owning one at the start of 2013, with three quarters of them being connected to the internet.

The plan was for commercial and public service broadcasters to team up and co-invest in catch-up service YouView, but that appears to have gone pear-shaped.

YouView was essentially the internet-enabled, future-proof version of Freeview. The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Talk Talk, BT and Arqiva all chipped in to make the project happen.

But the BBC and others reportedly reduced their investment in the scheme after some serious disagreements and poor retail performance. There are around one million homes with YouView, but the vast majority got their box from a BT or Talk Talk subscription.

Why would the BBC spend money to help a commercial rival sell more set-top boxes? That question gets you closer to understanding why the public service broadcasters might now be teaming up to secure their future on new platforms.

Neither Freeview nor Digital UK would confirm the existence of a new Freeview Connect scheme today.

A spokesperson for Freeview told BuzzFeed: "Freeview and Digital UK are exploring what a connected TV proposition, including catch-up, might look like alongside the existing linear services to give viewers extra flexibility in how they watch television."

A Digital UK spokesperson told us that no title for any project had yet been agreed but all options, including this, were being considered.