The technical details of Freeview Connect, the next generation of Freeview, are to be announced later this year.
Freeview Connect promises to blend digital terrestrial TV delivered through an aerial with catch-up content delivered over a broadband connection.
While many Freeview HD TVs and set-top boxes come with access to services like BBC iPlayer and 4oD, Freeview connect will come with catch-up services built in as standard, much like YouView already does.
While it’s unlikely that Freeview Connect will launch this year, release of the specifications will give us a better idea of what shape it will take.
Earlier this month, Freeview and Digital UK announced plans to develop and launch Freeview Connect over the next five years. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are on board, so we can expect to see iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD on the platform from launch.
The details will be published by the Digital TV Group, the body which advises TV providers in the UK, in its upcoming D-Book publication – the technical handbook for Freeview and Freeview HD. This defines how broadcast television is delivered to Freeview hardware.
No launch date for D-Book 8, which will include the Freeview Connect spec, has been announced yet. D-Book 7 (version 4) was released last month, clarifying how the Freeview equipment should handle audio descriptions.
Freeview Connect is widely seen as a competitor to YouView, which launched in 2012. On the surface, the two platforms appear to be virtually identical, in that they offer access to HD digital terrestrial channels and on-demand services out of the box.
One of YouView’s main party tricks is that you can scroll backwards in the programme guide to pick up on missed shows. Instead of being delivered over the aerial, programmes will be streamed from a catch-up service, be it BBC iPlayer, ITV Player or 4oD.
It’s not yet known if Freeview Connect will feature a similar backwards EPG, but Freeview has hinted in the past that it might go down this route.