Fetch TV launches free-to-air ‘virtual channels’ to help consumers discover BVOD content

Fetch TV has today rolled out four free-to-air (FTA) ‘virtual channels’, covering Ten, Seven, Nine and SBS, which will allow its subscribers to create their own playlist in the same manner they currently can for true crime channel Oxygen.

The playlist allows Fetch TV users to pick programs in the schedule and watch them live, fast forward or rewind as they wish, as well as curate their own schedule for the shows they’d like to watch.

The idea behind the new formatting is to appeal to consumers who prefer using the Fetch electronic program guide to find content rather than navigating each of the network’s own video-on-demand offerings directly.

The SBS On Demand virtual channel (click to enlarge)

Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson told Mumbrella consumers still enjoy channel surfing, which they can do through the EPG, but want the ability to access the wider content available in BVOD services while doing so.

Users will still be able to access content via the catch up services if they want to find a specific episode, but Fetch says the new virtual playlists will give the FTA networks a higher chance of their BVOD content being found by those who prefer the EPG interface.

The announcement of virtual channels for the FTAs follows the success of NBC’s Oxygen true crime channel which has been trialling the format since January. Fetch TV reports that 90% of consumers found the Oxygen content via the channel, rather than from inside the dedicated on demand app.

Lorson: Content discovery is key

The virtual channels act much like a regular channel, with scheduling which will allow users to chose to watch the next program in the guide, but they’ll also give consumers the option to watch the next episode of whatever program they were watching.

“With so much great content out there, but from lots of disparate sources, content discovery becomes key.

“Fetch is providing a bridge between traditional linear viewing and binge viewing of on demand content.

“Regardless how the content is accessed, the viewing experience is always the same, and binge friendly. All available episodes are visible, shows start from the beginning, and fast forward and rewind are available.”

The virtual playlist channels are a unique offering from Fetch, and delivered with strong support from Seven, Nine, Ten and SBS. Fetch expects to add ABC’s iView service to the lineup in the coming months.

“Whilst Fetch offers a huge range of premium subscription and transactional content, the majority of Australian viewing continues to be live and time shifted Free To Air programming. We see tremendous value for our subscribers in actively promoting the extensive library of content that is available free and on demand via the FTAs,” said Lorson.

When a consumer selects a program inside the virtual channel it will start from the beginning, even if they select it half an hour after the schedule has it beginning. Users will be able to go forwards and backwards in time to select other shows, similar to a music playlist, using the Now & Next channel bar.

Fetch TV also allows users to aggregate their BVOD content in the My Stuff area, which will keep track of where they are up to in a show’s season, notify them when new episodes are available and let them move between shows without opening the BVOD apps.


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