Freeview Australia has unveiled its HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) service, designed to provide more integration between broadcast and on-demand BVOD services, and to boast a library of more than 50,000 individual programs and episodes.
To be rolled out from April 14, the new product is designed to offer a more streamlined way to discover free-to-air (FTA) TV across more than 35 channels.
The search function also aims to make content easier to locate across ABC iview, SBS On Demand, 7plus, 9Now, and 10 play without the need to download individual broadcaster apps.
According to Freeview, the HbbTV application, which is built using the latest HbbTV 2.0 standard, joins the UK as the only other service in the world delivering an aggregated platform across multiple broadcasters on this latest standard.
Freeview chair and ABC chief digital and information officer, Helen Clifton, said the service carried multiple benefits for viewers.
“I am very excited about the new HbbTV powered Freeview service for connected TVs, which is an important advance in free-to-air television in Australia,” she said.
“Not only will it provide audiences with a streamlined way to search and discover content, but it also opens up access to the complete free-to-air on-demand catalogue – over 5,000 hours of content.
“The launch of a new gateway for TV viewing also means Freeview can take advantage of the latest technologies and bring audiences an improved and richer interactive experience which will help drive the industry forward.”
The announcement coincides with a refreshed brand identity for Freeview, which will consolidate its branding under one logo. The company says this has been done to demonstrate international support for HbbTV by being consistent with the UK brand.
Freeview Australia’s CEO, Bridget Fair, said the introduction of the service is an important evolution of the broadcast viewing experience.
“More than 17 million of us watch FTA television every week, and with broadcast video on demand (BVOD) services enjoying a 38 per cent increase YoY (Think TV Fact Pack, 2020.), we have an insatiable appetite for great content.
“Our role at Freeview is to keep pace with this demand and ensure that we are constantly innovating to serve the millions of Australians who vote with their remotes every day.
“Today’s announcement is also great news for the networks and advertisers.
“With the launch of the new service, there is now an easier way to search and view linear and BVOD content with access to thousands of additional episodes and items. We know that Australians will be excited and engaged in this new FTA experience.”
The service has been given the tick of approval by networks, with ABC managing director David Anderson welcoming the ” more simplified, integrated and intuitive” way to search for programs.
“The ABC has been broadcasting into Australian loungerooms for the last 65 years,” he said.
“We are as committed today, as we were when we first broadcast, to ensure that our news, current affairs, drama, kids, and all our programming is accessible and free to as many Australians as possible.
“The launch of Freeview’s new HbbTV services is an exciting evolution for the 17 million Australians who tune in to free-to-air TV every week.”
Nine CEO Mike Sneesby said the service would help satisfy the current appetite for on-demand programming.
“We are seeing record levels of on-demand video consumption,” he said.
“This is in part because all of Australia’s TV networks have built out deep libraries of great local and international content available to tens of millions of Australians for free.
“We welcome today’s Freeview announcement which will make simpler and easy for everyone to access and find the content they want, when they want it, on the platform they want to consume it on.
The new service is backward compatible with all Freeview certified HbbTV 1.5 devices (dating back to 2014) through the delivery of different app versions to suit varying TV requirements.
Freeview’s brand refresh and launch of HbbTV is supported by 15′ and 30′ TVCs – broadcast and digital – which launch early May.