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What is Connect TV? More than 500,000 people watching

What’s happened?

More than 500,000 people in the UK have switched on to one of the Connect TV channels on Freeview HD. 

In a chat with Connect TV Managing Director Phil Walding, Recombu Digital was told that over half a million viewers have accessed channels like Sports Tonight or the Vision Channel since the launch in February this year.

While Connect TV isn’t a service or a broadcaster, it’s more of a way for broadcasters like Vision Channel and Racing UK to launch multiple free and subscription channels and services on one Freeview HD channel accessed via Red Button.

Walking expects that this take up of these channels to increase exponentially as new Freeview HD devices hit the market and mentioned the Connect TV is looking to launch on Freesat as well.

Regarding the new Freeview channel order announced by DMOL, Walding declined to comment, mentioning that an official statement is in the works.

Currently, channels like Sports Tonight and Vision are located at Freeview 110 and 112. Under new DMOL rulings, these channels face being moved to the 200 region (or beyond) depending on whether they’re classed as ‘Text and MHEG services,’ ‘Interactive services’ or ‘IP delivered services.’

What is Connect TV?

Connect TV channels are currently accessible on Freeview HD boxes and TV sets that are connected to the internet.

Connect TV is today announcing that it’s got more channels to it’s name than Freeview. This is a little misleading however as Connect TV is basically a way in which you can watch more TV channels through Freeview, if your Freeview set top box or TV has a broadband connection.

YouView might be grabbing more headlines (the Lord Sugar effect?) but it’s this perhaps less well known service which has more channels and could end up in more homes.

Connect TV’s main selling point is works with a handful of existing Freeview HD boxes and TVs, meaning you don’t have to shell out for any new equipment. So long as your Freeview HD box or TV has an internet connection and was bought in the last 18 months or so, you should be good to go.

What is Connect TV? More channels through your Freeview HD box or TV

What TV channels can I get with Connect TV?

Connect TV offers a range of 70 extra channels in addition to the standard Freeview HD line-up, many of them free to watch and many of them originally broadcasting from outside the UK.

One of the bonuses of Connect TV is that within a channel you can use red button services to access more than one channel or stream from the same broadcaster.

The Vision Channel (Freeview channel 110) acts as a portal to 27 different channels from across the world, with Greek, Polish and Turkish-language channels supported.

Sports Tonight (Freeview channel 112) for example is just a single standalone channel. Sports Tonight is the UK’s newest sports TV station providing topical news, analysis, discussion and debate and pitches itself as “Sky Sports News meets TalkSport.” Owner Kelvin MacKenzie, former Sun editor, had wanted to launch Sports Tonight in “the last four or five years, but the distribution wasn’t there.”

Other channels available include FilmBox, a Hungarian movies on demand platform, and Racing UK (Freeview channel 116) which lets you access 30 races live from one channel for £20 a month (12 month minimum contract).

A list of available channels is here:

What is Connect TV? More channels through your Freeview HD box or TV

New channels announced today include The Christian Channel (Freeview 113) Arabic and Islamic channels (Freeview 115) and more channels added to the Polska Plus service available via the Vision Channel (Freeview 110).

Though these channels are are currently sitting around the 110-200 region, note that they face getting moved to the 400 region of the Freeview EPG later this year.

Do I need to register to get Connect TV channels?

Access to free channels shouldn’t require anything more than a simple retuning of your Freeview HD box or smart TV. See the list below for compatible devices. Pay channels require you to subscribe directly via their websites rather than through Connect TV sites.

Do I need to retune to get Connect TV channels?

Yes. As you would do with any other new Freeview channel you’ll need to retune to see the Connect TV channels.

Which set top boxes and TV sets work with Connect TV?

Currently, the following Freeview HD set top boxes should work with Connect TV:

  •     Panasonic Freeview boxes bought in 2011
  •     Panasonic Freeview boxes bought in 2012
  •     TVOnics Freeview boxes

If you’ve bought a smart TV (a TV with Freeview HD built in plus an internet connection) then the following sets ought to work:

  • LG smart TVs bought in 2012
  • Panasonic smart TVs bought in 2012
  • Panasonic smart TVs bought in 2011
  • Samsung smart TVs bought in 2012
  • Sony smart TVs bought in 2012
  • Sony smart TVs bought in 2011

Additionally, there are a handful of Freeview SD (standard definition/non-HD) devices that ought to be able to get the extra Connect TV channels. These include Netgem set top boxes and some Sony standard def smart TVs from the 2011 line-up.

What broadband speed do I need to watch Connect TV?

Connect TV’s site says that channels and services ought to work over speeds of 1.5Mbps, but the faster the better. Read our guides on broadband speed testing and how to improve your broadband speed.

Are Connect TV channels delivered in HD?

Not at the minute. Connect TV intends to bring HD services to its channels soon. Connect TV’s site reads:

“Connect TV channels are currently delivered in standard definition. We have been testing HD services which may go live in the future. These require a faster broadband connection.”

The BBC says that speeds of at least 3.2Mbps are required for HD streams to work on BBC iPlayer, and YouView says that 5Mbps is needed for HD on-demand. So we’d expect Connect TV HD channels to need speeds around or above these.

What’s next for Connect TV?

Connect TV is currently available to an estimated 5 million UK homes right now and aims to be available in all UK homes by the end of 2014.