Freesat's New Freetime Service Is Basically YouView With a Satellite Dish

By Sam Gibbs on at

Those who said YouView was a great idea but launched way too late, have now been proved dead right. Its backwards EPG and on-demand services aren’t looking too unique any more, as Freesat's just launched exactly the same thing with its new Freetime service, which lets you scroll back in time and stream shows from TV catch-up services like BBC iPlayer.

Basically, it's a new connected add-on service to Freesat+, which brings with it a shiny new EPG, streaming, and faster and easier PVR functions. BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are available from launch, with 4oD and Demand 5 scheduled to arrive before Christmas. It also provides a "showcase" screen for surfacing popular streaming content, and will add the likes of Netflix, who we know has already been signed up, as well as other streaming media providers in the near future.

Unfortunately, you'll need a new a new "Freetime" box to use the new Freesat services, with the first box being a Humax priced at £279, which is pretty pricey for a PVR these days. Still, we know Philips, Sagemcom and Manhattan will be producing Freetime boxes soon too, so hopefully there'll be a cheaper option in there somewhere. The irony is that Humax also makes the YouView box, which you can tell by just looking at the remotes that come with the two services even if you couldn't see the logo on the box -- they're pretty much identical minus the blue YouView button in the middle.

With Freesat launching this kind of thing, and Freeview doing the same, YouView's once genius idea is looking less and less unique by the minute. Freesat offers more HD channels and higher HD quality thanks to greater bandwidth than you can get over the Freeview HD-packing YouView too, so the choice just got a lot more difficult. Mind you, considering you'd be forking out the best part of £300 to jump on either bandwagon, maybe it's best to just stick with the old and trusted PS3, Xbox or Roku.