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Freeview viewers find iPlayer catch-up TV three times more attractive than 3D

Catch-up TV and on-demand TV are the favourite TV tech upgrades for Freeview viewers but 3D isn’t drawing a crowd.

The free-to-air terrestrial TV platform polled 2,000 viewers about new TV technology, with the clear winners catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer and on-demand TV delivered by broadband.

A TiVo-style ‘backwards EPG’ which helps viewers find recently-broadcast TV shows on catch-up services, as well as what’s coming up, was third.

Despite recent experiments such as Wimbledon 3D and the promise of several live 3D events from the Olympic games on BBC HD this summer, 3D came a distant sixth place.

Catch-up TV is the flavour of the day

Even with more than half the UK packing smartphones, mobile TV came below 3D, and ‘second screen’ apps for tablets and phones, which complement what’s on screen, were last.

Ilse Howling, managing director of Freeview, said 3D glasses, the cost of 3D TVs and a lack of content have kept its popularity low.

“This Olympics will be the first Olympics where just under 40 per cent of the UK will be able to watch it in 3D,” Howling said.

“Even on Freeview, 3D will be available for the 100m final and opening and closing ceremonies. That’s very exciting, but what people are actually interested in is evolution, not revolution.

“Viewers like watching television and they like technology that helps them do that more easily. They want to be able to watch programmes they love and find a better way of finding them.”

There was a clear gap between the most and least-popular technologies, with home networking to share viewing around the home in fourth, and the ability to send remote record commands to your digital TV recorder 21 per cent below in fifth place.

Very few TV products or platforms offer any home networking options, while remote record is not yet available to Freeview viewers but has been active on Sky+ for several years. The only mobile TV services available are through BBC iPlayer, 4oD and Sky Go.

YouView, which is expected to launch in May, will feature a backwards EPG showing catch-up TV from the past seven days available from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

It’s also possible the survey could just reflect a lack of imagination on the part of Freeview viewers presented with new features they’ve never used, compared to the iPlayer.

Freeview viewers’ technology preferences

  1. Catch-up TV 62%
  2. On-demand TV 59%
  3. Backwards EPG 51%
  4. Home networking 46%
  5. Remote record 25%
  6. 3D 19%
  7. Mobile TV 12%
  8. Second screens 6%