Six months on from the official launch of FreeviewPlus and, finally, UnderCurrent can report that more manufacturers have been approved and accredited to carry the exalted logo. As Proper Journalist wrote in detail at the time, Sony and LG Electronics were the only approved FreeviewPlus brands on Day Zero, and many more were expected to follow, presumably in the short term.
Over the ensuing months, the whole concept of Freeview has essentially faded away like dissipating fog, the dawning sunlight of streaming services like Netflix, Presto, Stan and the introduction of Foxtel iQ3 burning it off the TV radar.
Until yesterday, a watershed day in Australian television history with the launch of Netflix, when Freeview announced that indeed there were more options available to proselytize the Freeview dogma. And which brands are joining Sony and LG? No, it’s not market leader Samsung or critics’ darling Panasonic. It’s not popular value brand Kogan or high quality option Sharp. It’s not European specialist Philips and it’s not Chinese giant TCL.
It’s Hitachi! It’s Bauhn!
At least Hitachi is a widely available and well-known consumer brand, sold in Myer, Harvey Norman, Bing Lee and Dick Smith. Bauhn is simply the white label brand for Aldi stores, albeit an impressively cheap white label brand: it’s marketing a 4K TV for $799!
With Foxtel and the new streaming services doing everything they can to attract new viewers with some incredibly persuasive content and pricing options — all you can stream for $9 per month on Netflix; special Game of Thrones subs for $30 per month on Foxtel Play, for example — it seems as though Freeview as completely lost the plot if its thinks only having four approved brands and non-existent mindshare will end up winning the war for free-to-air television.