HomeTechMajor new free TV streaming service launches backed by UK's main broadcasters

Major new free TV streaming service launches backed by UK’s main broadcasters


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A BRAND new free TV service has launched in the UK that could eventually allow viewers to ditch their aerial for good.

Freely uses Wi-Fi to beam live TV into homes around the UK – though the TV guide is quite bare on the streaming side.


Freely is available from Hisense TVs from todayCredit: Jamie Harris / The Sun
But the number of streamed channels available at launch might be an issue


But the number of streamed channels available at launch might be an issueCredit: Jamie Harris / The Sun

The Freeview successor is backed by the country’s main broadcasters, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

For now, Wi-Fi-enabled channels are only accessible from the four companies, but users can continue to watch other free channels available on Freeview via their aerial.

The new way to watch telly is built into newly launched smart TVs, starting with Hisense-made sets.

More brands such as Toshiba, Bush and JVC are set to follow suit.


The move comes as the UK’s public service broadcasters fight to stay relevant in a streaming world dominated by Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.

Freely is the first free service that allows viewers to switch seamlessly between live and on-demand TV from the leading UK broadcasters.

It follows in the footsteps of Sky Glass, Sky Stream and Virgin Stream which have also tried to lure people away from traditional viewing methods on the premium end.

“The launch of Freely is a historic moment for UK television,” said Kieran Clifton, director of BBC distribution and business development.

“Collaboration between the UK PSBs is critical to connecting and protecting all audiences as we transition towards the streaming era – and delivering live TV over broadband for free is a ground-breaking innovation that will futureproof public service broadcasting.”

Freely has buttons allowing people to pause for up to 15 minutes, as well as instantly restart programmes currently showing, however, the latter is limited to BBC and ITV channels for the moment.

First look at UK’s brand new free streaming service Freely from BBC and ITV that’s set to shake-up TVs next year

What channels are on Freely?

Freely, the new free streaming service backed by Britain’s public service broadcasters will include the following channels:

  • BBC One 
  • BBC Two 
  • ITV1 (England, Wales, Scottish Borders) 
  • STV (Scottish and Grampian) 
  • UTV (Northern Ireland) 
  • Channel 4 
  • S4C (Wales) 
  • Channel 5 
  • ITV2 
  • ITV3 
  • BBC Three 
  • BBC Four 
  • BBC Scotland 
  • Film4 
  • E4 
  • More4 
  • 4seven 
  • ITV4 
  • ITVBe 
  • 5STAR 
  • 5Action 
  • 5USA 
  • 5SELECT 
  • BBC Parliament 
  • CBBC HD 
  • CBeebies HD 

One of the main advantages that Freely hopes to achieve is access to more HD channels, as Freeview technology can only offer a limited amount.

The launch of Freely is a historic moment for UK television

Kieran CliftonDirector, BBC Distribution And Business Development

Using internet streams also means we could eventually see more channels than ever before – but for the moment users will have to rely on their aerial for the full Freeview channel line-up.

TVs with Freely are made to offer both so you can access Freely internet-based streams and traditional aerial broadcasts in one place.

Freely: Verdict On UK’s New Streaming Service

Analysis by Jamie Harris, Senior Technology and Science Reporter at The Sun

A free internet-based TV service like this has been a long time coming and I’m relieved the UK is finally there.

Except, we’re not – not quite anyway.

The lack of streamed channels at launch makes the product feel a bit bare-bones.

But it’s a flower waiting to blossom – the technology is there, as is the willpower to keep adding features and channels.

I think once more channels are available this will be a real game-changer.

Read my full verdict here

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