BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 are Investing £125 Million in Freeview, Lest They be Defeated by Streaming Rivals

By Tom Pritchard on at

The past few years have seen audience viewing habits change dramatically, with a switch from live or recorded TV to on-demand and streaming services that don't force viewers to adhere to a strict viewing schedule. But that's bad news for the traditional broadcasters, and to try and fight back against the forces of streaming services like Amazon and Netflix, Freeview is getting a £125 million investment.

The money will be coming from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Freeview owner/operator Arqiva, as part of a five year deal that will see new services developed for Freeview. Among them will be an app that lets users watch channels live from their phones, though that does already exist in the form of TVPlayer. I mean TVPlayer works quite well, has anyone thought to check if it can be bought out instead of starting from scratch?

Other confirmed features include the option to restart programming from midway through, and improved navigation with voice search functionality.

Some have also speculated that this could be a step towards the three broadcasters collaborating on their own streaming service, that will aggregate their content in one place. That's not the first we've heard of that idea either, with rumours suggesting the three have been negotiating to try and take on Netflix, Amazon, and others head on. Channel 4 and the BBC are also said to be lobbying for public service broadcasting to be featured more prominently in streaming catalogues.

Considering companies like Netflix and Amazon are able to spend billions on new content and engineering works, many have called for better collaboration between the UK's main broadcasters to avoid be left behind. Those people include Sharon White, Carolyn McCall, and Alex Mahon, the chief executives of Ofcom, ITV, and Channel 4 respectively.

From the sounds of things this money is going towards improving the Freeview service and adapting to the viewing needs of modern audiences, rather than stubbornly throwing money at the old way of doing things and wondering why no one is tuning in. It's a smart move, though a lot of work is going to need to be done if they hope to lure people away from premium streaming catalogues. Maybe they can make their archives more openly available, it's not like they have a shortage of content. [FT]