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Freesat in talks with Netflix, Amazon

James Temperton
8 Aug 2014
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Netflix and other on-demand video apps could be coming to Freesat as the satellite TV company looks to expand

Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video could soon be coming to Freesat as the subscription-free TV company looks to bolster its range of on-demand services. Freesat said that an "issue of scale" was currently preventing Netflix from being added to its service but said that it could be added in the future.

Asked if it was in discussions with any major on-demand film and TV companies Freesat confirmed it was talking to Netflix and Amazon but refused to be drawn on when they might be added to its Freetime service.

Freesat, which is jointly owned by the BBC and ITV, uses satellite dishes to bring more than 200 free-to-air TV channels and radio stations to over 1.85 million UK homes. Unlike Freeview, which doesn't have on-demand video, Freesat also comes with catch-up TV from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The service, called Freetime, also includes video-on-demand apps for BBC News, BBC Sport and YouTube, while a specialist film app curated by Curzon Cinemas was launched earlier this year. Asked if the company had any plans to expand its range of apps to include Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video or even Tesco's Blinkbox, Freesat said it was in discussions with many on-demand services.

Asked what was stopping bringing Netflix to Freesat right now, the company explained there was an "issue of scale". Around 1.85 million people currently use Freesat, which isn't enough to satisfy Netflix's requirements. The company said that when it did start adding more on-demand apps they were only likely to number up to 10 or 20 rather than "hundreds", which it argued could confuse users.

Freesat, which requires a satellite dish to receive its selection of more than 200 free-to-air channels, runs on set top boxes from Humax and Manhattan with prices starting at £89. Freesat also comes on most Panasonic TVs, while a partnership with Turkish TV firm Vestel will see its software and services installed on a range of new TVs and set top boxes in the coming months.

Freesat is one of the few free-to-air TV providers in the UK. The largest, Freeview, recently announced its Connect on-demand service, although there's no word yet when it will be available. YouView, a partnership between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, is mostly now used by BT and TalkTalk as part of their home entertainment bundles.

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