Freely, a new free streaming service backed by U.K. broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Paramount Global‘s Channel 5, will launch in the second quarter of 2024.
Everyone TV, formerly known as Digital U.K., a joint venture of these broadcasters formed to “lead the evolution of free TV in the U.K.,” shared the news on Monday and also unveiled first details of its user interface and features.
“The new service will futureproof live TV for the streaming age,” Everyone TV said, pointing to new research by TV analysis firm 3 Reasons that found that more than half of U.K. homes will watch TV exclusively via broadband by 2030. “Freely will bring live and on-demand content together all in one place for free, ensuring that TV remains relevant and accessible to audiences of all ages.”
The organization said it is also working with BBC Studios’ UKTV to bring its portfolio of free channels to Freely, including Dave, Drama, Yesterday and W.
Meanwhile, the streamer’s interface includes features designed to bring the free TV experience into the streaming age. “For the first time on a free service, viewers will be able to switch seamlessly between live and on-demand TV from the leading U.K. broadcasters and take advantage of features, such as pause, restart and access to more episodes, without having to pay,” the organization said. “Freely TVs can also be placed anywhere in the home where there is a Wi-Fi connection, removing the need for a dish or aerial.”
Other Freely features unveiled include MiniGuide (“a new feature for the free TV experience, this pop-up interface appears each time users switch channels, creating a seamless browsing experience and enabling viewers to easily discover related live or on-demand content”), Browse (allowing users to explore recommended live and on-demand programming) and TV Guide (a seven-day programming guide).
“It’s clear the way people are watching TV is changing, with more audiences switching over to a broadband-only connection,” said Sarah Milton and Carl Pfeiffer, joint chief product officers at Everyone TV. “We’ve built Freely around the needs of British audiences, bringing them the freedom to choose how they want to watch, with all their favorite shows from the U.K.’s leading broadcasters all in one place for free.”