UK Netflix Rival Revealed: New Freeview App Combines BBC, ITV and Channel 4 Content

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Major UK television networks are launching an app that will combine all their online TV offerings into one place.

The app, created by Freeview, will contain shows from its free-to-view members: the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, in one place. While the ideal situation would be a single login for all the content, users of this app will still need separate accounts for each. It’s the result of a five-year-long expansion plan made by Freeview’s shareholders. The app will launch for iOS devices 22 January 2019 initially, with Android users getting a version early next year.

Despite news of the app, Sharon White, the head of the UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom, has called for channels like the BBC and Channel 4 to work more closely together in order to take back ground lost to streaming giants from overseas like Netflix and Amazon, at the Outside the Box conference taking place in London.

iPlayer, ITV Hub and All4 content will all be available through the new appiPlayer, ITV Hub and All4 content will all be available through the new appIn the wake of viewers, particularly the young, seeking their entertainment online with companies like Netflix, and leaving public service broadcasters with dwindling numbers for live TV.

According to the Financial Times, White said “if the growth of Netflix and Amazon tells us one thing, it is that viewers will flock to single destinations that offer a wide variety of quality content,” adding that “a common platform could combine the pulling power of Broadchurch, Blue Planet and Bake Off,” and that the BBC should “take the lead” when it comes to unifying British TV under one banner. She also stated her support for a single login solution, since “it would make it easier for viewers to access content across a range of devices."

A concept to create a unified streaming platform between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, dubbed ‘Project Kangaroo’ was discussed in 2008. It was short lived however, since it was struck down by the Competition Commission for its potential to negatively affect rivals like Sky.

The current announcements follows the news in November that Ofcom had objected to the BBC’s plans to expand iPlayer, as the Corporation’s intentions: to increase the standard thirty day limit for watching programmes before expiry and adding more shows to the service, could have stifled competition and ultimately have a negative impact on the TV viewing audience.

Also speaking at the event, Jonathan Thompson, chief executive of Digital UK (the company which manages Freeview), said “The new app provides the aggregated experience that consumers increasingly expect from a TV provider”.