Freeview, the company that promotes free digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom, is planning to push a selection of programming to compatible personal video recorders. This latest Freeview development follows the announcement of the so-called Kangaroo initiative from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to pool programming in an online portal.
In addition to this initiative, it seems that a certain number of hours of selected programmes will be made available to personal video recorders to provide a limited form of video-on-demand service. Programming would be delivered using existing capacity, for instance when certain BBC channels close down overnight.
Unlike the Sky Anytime service, which reserves a proportion of the storage on newer Sky+ set-top boxes for push video-on-demand services, the Freeview Playback version is more likely to operate on an opt-in basis. Programmes recorded on Freeview are also free of any conditional access or digital rights management restrictions.
“It is about giving people value, giving them more TV in a way,” said Ilse Howling of Freeview. “We want to give people the kind of content they want to watch because many people miss programmes.”
Top-Up TV, which provides subscription services in addition to Freeview channels, also works on an overnight download model.
The Freeview general manager said that hybrid broadcast and broadband services such as BT Vision could also provide a model for future services. The telecommunications company aims to have 100,000 customers by the end of the year. Orange is planning to launch a similar service in 2008.
Around 225,000 Freeview Playback personal video recorders have been sold. Freeview is now available in some 14 million homes in the United Kingdom.