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Major TV networks combine to launch mobile app for live streaming and catch-up television

The Freeview Plus screen with its Red and Green buttons.

The Freeview Plus screen with its Red and Green buttons.

Free-to-air television industry body Freeview has this morning announced it is preparing to launch a combined mobile app for the major TV networks.

The Freeview Plus mobile app will provide access to all of the free-to-air networks’ live streaming and catch-up content across Plus7, 9Now, TenPlay, ABC iView and SBS OnDemand and appears to be a clear attempt to drive greater consumer engagement with the various network’s online TV services.

The move is likely to anger regional TV networks which are upset about the growing online push by metropolitan stations into their broadcast areas through online live streaming services. 

Win, owned by billionaire Bruce Gordon, is back in court tomorrow seeking to block 9Now’s service within his broadcast areas, while fellow regional operator Southern Cross Austereo is watching the case closely.

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“It’s clear that consumers are in charge of their viewing and they want the flexibility to watch what they want, when they want, on the best available screen at the time – even when out of home,” said Freeview CEO Liz Ross in a statement.

“Freeview has responded to changing viewing habits and we are excited about the FreeviewPlus multi-screen future.”

The move comes as Freeview also announced that multicultural broadcaster SBS would rejoin the body, after it walked away last year following an industry stoush over advertising, and named Seven chief digital officer, Clive Dickens, as its chairman.

“We have an exciting year ahead in free-to-air television and the spirit of progress and collaboration will deliver some significant innovations in 2016,” Ross said. “We’re especially glad to welcome SBS back to the Freeview family.”

Clive Dickens in the new chair of Freeview.

Clive Dickens in the new chair of Freeview.

Dickens replaces former senior ABC TV boss Kim Dalton who has stepped down after seven years in the role.

“We would like to thank Kim for his vision and energy in the role,” incoming Chairman Dickens said. “Under his stewardship, Freeview has launched the award-winning hybrid TV service FreeviewPlus delivering Australian audiences the best in FTA TV technology.”

Earlier this month, Freeview finally released numbers on the uptake of its HbbTV technology claiming that some 580,000 homes had connected their Freeview Plus TV sets but declined to provide usage numbers for the service.

Freeview noted that the agreement to launch a mobile product was significant but it did not release a timetable for the launch of the product.

The five TV networks will work together on one app.

The five TV networks will work together on one app.

“This year will continue to be one of collaboration and innovation for Freeview leading with FreeviewPlus mobile product and we look forward to announcing even more exciting IP initiatives in the coming months,” said Dickens.

Freeview missed its target of achieving 10% Australian household penetration in its first years, with its current figures showing that of the 900,000 Freeview Plus sets sold 65% of the TV sets are connected – meaning that some 580,000 households are connected to the HbbTV service.

The industry body has also been running a major marketing campaign around the product called Meet The Freemans. 

Nic Christensen 

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