YouTube will soon be available as an app on Freesat, the first time the online video service will be incorporated on a free-to-air television service in the United Kingdom. While announcing sales of 3 million products since the free-to-air satellite platform launched in May 2008, Freesat is welcoming YouTube to its new <free time> platform.
Freesat, which is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV, says it has achieved 3 million ‘sales’ in the last four and half years. That figure represents retail sales of Freesat compatible products, including televisions with a certified integrated satellite receiver.
In September 2012, Freesat launched <free time>, its next-generation connected television platform, based on open standards, including elements of OIPF, HbbTV and HTML5.
Freesat will be the first television platform in the country to host the HTML5 version of YouTube. It will be accessible through the on demand section of the Freesat <free time> electronic programme guide. That already carries the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, with planned support for 4oD.
Many other television devices and displays already incorporate YouTube applications, including the Virgin Media TiVo box, Samsung smart televisions and of course Google TV products, but inclusion on the Freesat platform marks a significant step in gaining the support of broadcasters.
YouTube has yet to make an appearance on YouView, the supposedly open platform backed by a consortium of broadcasters and broadband providers that also includes the BBC and ITV.
Back in 2008, Michael Grade, then chief executive of ITV and the former chairman of the BBC, described Google as a “parasite”.
YouTube has been launching thematic ‘channels’ of programming, including material from broadcasters as well as a community of content creators.
Emma Scott, the managing director of Freesat, said: “We’re now delighted to add to our already fantastic customer offering with YouTube. They join Freesat at a time of rapid growth for our business and will offer our viewers an exclusive, first view of their latest version — previously unseen on free to air TV in the UK.”
The announcement described the YouTube television-optimised HTML5 version of the YouTube app that will be available on Freesat as a “visually stunning and fully interactive viewing experience” and a “testament to our ongoing commitment to delivering genuine viewer choice”.
As well as embracing YouTube on a broadcast platform, the significance of this is that HTML5 compatibility enables third-party applications to be developed and maintained based on open standards, enabling them to be integrated on a range of different devices and displays.
So can we expect YouTube to be joined by other third-party apps, like LoveFilm from Amazon or blinkbox from Tesco? While these may represent competition for the attention of viewers, adding them to the <free time> proposition may help to differentiate the service as a credible alternative to Sky, and of course Freeview and YouView.