Created in response to the poor state of free-to-air TV in Australia in the late 2000s, Freeview is a digital TV platform designed to challenge the dominance of pay TV services like Foxtel. By uniting all free-to-air channels under a single marketing umbrella and implementing standard features like the electronic program guide (EPG), Freeview aims to promote the benefits of free-to-air TV throughout Australia.

Part of the Freeview initiative includes the certification of Freeview-compliant set-top boxes and smart TVs. Freeview-certified devices must support both standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) free-to-air broadcasts as well as implement the EPG, an interactive TV guide designed to simplify the process of browsing and recording future programming.

What is Freeview Plus?

In September 2014, Freeview expanded its platform with Freeview Plus, a hybrid broadcast broadband TV (HbbTV) service that uses the Internet to enhance your regular TV viewing experience. By connecting an HbbTV-compatible television, set-top box or other viewing devices to the Internet, you can access the catch-up TV libraries of each of the 5 free-to-air networks from the comfort of your couch.

Like the basic Freeview service, Freeview Plus isn’t a network in its own right. It simply groups all free-to-air catch-up content in 1 place so you don’t have to swap between multiple apps to browse the entire entertainment menu. Since Freeview Plus uses a broadband connection as well as digital TV signals, you can browse the Freeview Plus catch-up catalogue at the same time you’re watching a live free-to-air program without an activity interrupting the other.

What can I watch on Freeview and Freeview Plus?

The basic Freeview service supports all digital free-to-air channels available in your area. This includes both SD and HD channels along with the Freeview EPG for all channels, excluding WIN television. However, it’s worth noting that all HD-compatible TV devices can access these same channels regardless of whether they’re Freeview-certified. You don’t need a Freeview-certified device to watch Freeview content.

Freeview Plus makes a more compelling case for itself. By collecting all the catch-up content available through ABC iview, SBS On Demand, 7plus, 9Now and 10 play in 1 place, Freeview Plus makes it easier to hunt down episodes of shows you missed and keep track of all the latest entertainment options across the entire free-to-air industry.

While all catch-up content on Freeview Plus is available to watch in SD, support for HD video varies from show to show. This is determined by the individual networks and not by Freeview.

What is Freeview FV?

Freeview FV is Freeview’s mobile app. It’s available for both Apple and Android devices and provides on-the-go access to live streams and catch-up services from all the free-to-air networks. Currently, live streaming is available for the following 22 channels:

  • ABC
  • SBS
  • Seven
  • Channel 9
  • TEN
  • 10 Bold
  • 10 Peach
  • ABC KIDS/ABC Comedy
  • ABC ME
  • ABC News
  • Viceland
  • SBS Food
  • NITV
  • 7TWO
  • 7Mate
  • 7food
  • 7Flix
  • Racing.com
  • 9Gem
  • 9Go!
  • 9Life
  • YourMoney

To access Freeview FV, you’ll need to download either the Freeview iOS app to an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device running iOS 8.0 or later, or the Freeview Android app to a smartphone or tablet running Android 4.2 or later. You’ll also need to download each of the free-to-air networks’ own mobile apps to watch catch-up content through Freeview FV since Freeview needs to link with those apps to access their catch-up libraries.

As a bonus, the Freeview iOS app supports mirroring to Apple TV devices over AirPlay, letting you watch Freeview FV content on your TV without needing to purchase a Freeview Plus device.

What devices are compatible with Freeview Plus?

While Freeview recommends using a Freeview Plus-certified device to access Freeview Plus, any HbbTV-compatible device will work just fine. Once you’ve connected it to the Internet, you simply need to push the green button on your remote to bring up the Freeview Plus interface.

If you want to stick with a Freeview Plus-certified device, Bauhn, Changhong, Hisense, Hitachi, LG, Samsung, Sony, TCL, Philips and Panasonic all make smart TVs Freeview has given its approval to. Teac and Aerialbox set-top boxes along with Aerialbox personal video recorders have received Freeview Plus certification as well.

Alternatively, you can download the app on iOS or Android devices. You can then get Freeview on the big screen by using Airplay or Chromecast.

How much data do Freeview Plus and Freeview FV use?

Both Freeview Plus and Freeview FV require a constant Internet connection to function, so they will take a toll on your monthly data limit.

Since Freeview Plus uses the TV broadcast network to deliver live TV, you’ll only have to worry about your data cap when watching catch-up content. For SD video, Freeview estimates you’ll use approximately 585MB of data per hour. In HD, that goes up to roughly 1.6GB of data per hour.

Freeview FV chews through data for both live streaming channels and watching catch-up content, but because the mobile app is built for smaller screens, it doesn’t use as much data as Freeview Plus. An hour of viewing through Freeview FV will consume roughly 400MB of data.

 

 

Patrick Larobina