Sony and LG Electronics are the first major manufacturing partners to be announced for the second iteration of Freeview, called FreeviewPlus, which launches today.
Described as “world-first”, FreeviewPlus uses a technology called HbbTV, short for Hybrid Broadcast Broadband Television, to mix traditional TV hardware and functionality with an advanced Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) and on-demand and catch-up TV services, delivered by a user’s fast internet connection.
What makes FreeviewPlus such a great leap forward is that it brings together all the major free-to-air networks onto one platform. Previously, TV fans had to separately access ABC iView, SBS On Demand, Nine’s JumpIn, TenPlay and Plus7 to watch their favourite shows or to experiment with new programming.
Take five shows like Offsiders, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, 60 Minutes, Modern Family and Parks and Recreation; FreeviewPlus gives the networks the opportunity to furnish these disparate but appealing programs to TV viewers in one place.
Liz Ross, general manager of Freeview, said today’s announcement took some serious wrangling to involve all five major stakeholders.
“We are thrilled to launch FreeviewPlus today, a world-first TV service for Australia that will provide viewers with a whole new way to enjoy free-to-air TV,” Ross said. “It is also a significant and exciting milestone in the history of television in this country, coming as the result of unprecedented collaboration among the Freeview networks, as well as other key stakeholders including developers, manufacturers and retailers.”
In order to access FreeviewPlus’ features, consumers must own a compatible TV, set-top box or personal video recorder (PVR). LG and Sony are the first two manufacturers to announce compliant hardware. “We’re all about giving LG users greater choice and flexibility,” said Lambro Skropidis, LG’s general manager of marketing. “LG Smart TVs offer a great range of choices for consumers and the addition of FreeviewPlus is further proof of our desire to continue delivering on that reputation.”
FreeviewPlus is available on 15 LG webOS TVs and 9 of its Smart TVs (see full list below). Existing users will have to undergo a software update and then a factory reset to access the platform, which is primarily navigated by the Red and Green buttons found on most remote controls. :We asked LG about the availability of TVs with FreeviewPlus preloaded and we were told: “It will not come pre-loaded. New customers will have to go through a sowftware update to get FreeviewPlus.” Meanwhile, Sony has six FreeviewPlus models.
A broad cross-section of electronics retailers are supporting the launch, including Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, Myer, Bing Lee, Dick Smith and David Jones. Retailers are often the first port-of-call for customers looking for more information about new technology so TV and home entertainment sales staff are advised to check out Freeview’s new website for regular updates about the FreeviewPlus platform.
It should be noted that FreeviewPlus has the potential to consumer a lot of data and that there are currently no all-you-can-eat plans available for the service, inchoate as it is. Users should make sure they have a sizable quota from their internet service provider.
When asked about accessing FreeviewPlus from a smartphone or tablet, a representative said that, “Freeview is looking at developing other platforms in the future”. What is known that FreeviewPlus will have no Foxtel compatibility.
LG FreeviewPlus compatible TV models: 84UB980T, 79UB980T, 65UB980T, 60UB850T, 55UB850T, 49UB850T, 65LB7500, 60LB7500, 55LB7500, 70LB6560, 60LB6500, 55LB6500, 50LB6500, 42LB6500, 32LB6500, 65LB5840, 60LB5820, 55LB5820, 50LB5820, 42LB5820, 32LB5820, 60PB6600, 50PB6600, 50PB560B.
Sony FreeviewPlus compatible TV models: X9500B, X9000B, X8500B, W850B, W800B, W700B.