Freely's interface looks clean and intuitive to use and is coming to TVs in Q2 this year
Everyone TV has revealed that its new UK TV service Freely will launch in the second quarter of 2024.
Freely is backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 and is the first TV platform in the UK to deliver live and on-demand content for free over your internet connection.
No aerial or satellite dish is required, either. All you need is Wi-Fi and a compatible smart TV and you’ll be able to enjoy live broadcasts from a wide range of free-to-air channels as well as catch up on your favourite shows via BBC iPlayer, ITVX, the Channel 4 app and My 5.
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We don’t know exactly when exactly the service will make its way to UK living rooms – this depends on the release dates of compatible TVs – but we now know how it will look and some of the features available at launch.
Three core components of the service were showcased at Everyone TV’s Outside the Box event earlier this week, which focused on the future of free television and featured guest speakers and presenters from caross the UK TV industry.
The first component highlighted the service’s “MiniGuide”. This interface pops up whenever you change channels and allows you to pause live content, restart the show or film that you’re watching, and directly access more episodes of a programme if they’re available.
Second up was the seven-day Electronic Programme Guide, which while specifically designed for Freely, will look and feel relatively familiar to those who have used Freeview Play’s TV Guide. It will be directly accessible via a “Guide” button on the remote and look the same regardless of which TV it’s being run on. In addition to allowing users to scroll through the selection of supported channels, the guide will also let you discover more episodes and on-demand content related to live TV shows.
Finally, Freely showed off its “Browse” page. This is accessible via the aforementioned MiniGuide or Freely button on your TV remote and is headed up by a “hero carousel” presenting the biggest shows the service has to offer. Below that, you’ll find access to the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5’s smart apps.
While we didn’t get the opportunity to navigate the platform ourselves, it certainly looks very intuitive. Simplicity is being put at the forefront of the service, but Everyone TV’s joint chief product officer, Sarah Milton, was keen to stress that there’s plenty of scope for new features, including a watch list.
In addition to the demo showing off the new UI, Freely confirmed Vestel as its second smart TV partner. The TV manufacturer, which produces panels for several brands including Toshiba and JVC, follows in Hisense’s footsteps by signing a five-year deal with Freely and will run the Freely TV guide natively on its sets going forward.
Freely also revealed that it’s working with broadcaster UKTV to bring its selection of free channels, which includes favourites such as Dave, Yesterday and W, to the platform.
We’re still at least a couple of months away from launch and there’s likely to be lots more news on Freely dropping in the interim, so make sure you check back soon for the latest developments.