VuTV, a new interactive Freeview HD channel, launches today, bringing 13 channels including Cartoon Network, Comedy Central and MTV.
Costing £6.99/month, the new channel can be found at Freeview 238 and gives you access to a mixture of popular cartoon, news, comedy and history channels.
The likes of Cartoon Network and Comedy Central have never been broadcast on Freeview before, so VuTV is making history by bringing these channels to the platform.
The full line of launch channels includes, Boomerang, Cartoonito, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, Crime & Investigation Network, History, H2, Lifetime, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons and Nick Jr. Content deals have been struck with big names such as A+E, Turner and Viacom.
Arran Tindall, senior vice president for commercial and content distribution for Viacom International Media Networks said: “The VuTV service is an easy, affordable way for suitable Freeview households to sample some of the very best channels that subscription TV in the UK has to offer.
“Viacom aims to make its content and channel brands available on whichever platform our audience wants to access them, so it’s great news that Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon will, for the first time, now be accessible via broadband connected digital terrestrial TV in the UK.”
We understand that talks with more partners are currently underway, but VuTV is remaining tight-lipped on this front for the time being.
VuTV: How to get started
VuTV works by streaming the channels over your broadband connection, rather than broadcasting them over the air. You’ll need to have a compatible Freeview HD box and a broadband connection providing speeds of over 2Mbps.
Recombu Digital has seen VuTV in action and the streaming quality is comparable to standard Freeview broadcasts. Only on a stream of the Lifetime channel, broadcasting an old episode of X Files, did we notice any artefacting. On slower connections this kinds of thing are common, so the experience is not unlike streaming content from Netflix or BBC iPlayer.
The 13 channels are displayed in a simple programme guide that you can scroll through using the directional keys of your remote. Pressing the normal channel select buttons will see you skipping to either channel 237 or 239, so make sure you switch to your remote’s directional keys when browsing VuTV’s programme guide.
When you tune in to channel 238, you’ll initially be greeted with the VuTV welcome page. you’ll see a message telling you whether or not you have an active connection capable of streaming the service and if your device is currently supported.
From launch only a number of Freeview HD devices will be compatible with VuTV, but we understand that the whitelist of devices will be growing over the coming months. Recombu Digital has tested connecting to VuTV on the Echostar Ultra Slim Box and the View 21 VW11FVRHD50 and the channel isn’t yet available on either of these Freeview HD devices. A full list of supported devices will soon be available on VuTV’s site.
David Cutts, director of VuTV, said: “We have been working with manufacturers from across the industry for some years, both to establish the specification for these TVs and to build the system to use them.
“We are now finishing off the process of testing and approving the receivers in the market so we can enable more customers to receive VuTV. This is a continuing process and the list of devices that support VuTV will continue to grow.”
If you are able to access VuTV, head over to the site and sign up online. You’ll be given a code that’s unique to the TV you’re watching VuTV on.
Mike Alexander, business manager for Synapse, which owns and runs VuTV, says that plans for a multiroom-type solution are in the pipeline, but there’s no ETA for this just yet.
VuTV has also developed apps for iOS and Android devices. From launch, these let viewers see what the current and next programmes. Functions like reminders and a more comprehensive EPG will be added as the service evolves.
The EPG on the channel itself needs a bit of work, as it doesn’t really let you plan ahead. A fuller version will be shortly available online, on the VuTV site.
VuTV will start broadcasting on Freeview from 12:00PM today, November 28. For an idea of how VuTV will look, watch the company’s YouTube promo below.