BBC Trust Approves Freesat Entry Into Pay VOD

News story courtesy of Broadband TV News – (thanks Gordon S Valentine for the link)

The BBC Trust has said the BBC can continue to play a part in Freesat following its approval of plans to include pay-TV content.

The Trust said proposals by the free-to-air satellite platform to introduce the listing of pay content delivered on-demand via broadband did not represent a significant change to the approval previously given in 2007. There was no need for a Public Value Test or for further regulatory process.

Under the plans some pay content, such as films, would be added to the Freesat EPG alongside the existing free-to-air content. However, there would be no adult material or live streamed sports coverage. The possibility of live paid-for linear broadcast channels remains open, but these were not a part of the approval.

Freesat itself will not supply any of the on demand content, but will allow third parties to do so through its EPG.

Some content will also be made available through existing channels using an on-screen prompt that would take viewers to an on demand environment. The plan is to use the upcoming launch of its next generation receivers – understood by Broadband TV News to include HbbTV – to add support for Digital Rights Management (DRM). Where technically possible paid for content will also be made available on existing receivers.

Freesat boxes are already used for on demand content, most notably the BBC iPlayer, and yesterday it was announced that ITV Player would be made available as an open beta. After plans for micropayments were revealed, ITV was yesterday forced to make clear that it would not be charging for content that is currently available for free on ITV Player.

The Trust says Freesat remains an important part of the BBC’s distribution strategy and is of relevance to licence fee payers. “Having considered the BBC’s position with respect to implementing this proposal on the Freesat platform, the Trust’s view is that the proposal to implement this function on the Freesat platform is consistent with, and will further the delivery of, the BBC’s wider distribution strategy.”

Between them the BBC Executive and Freesat consider that the proposal would create minimal market impact. It would add between 100,000 and 300,000 additional users and a small amount of incremental income over the next 3 years.

News story courtesy of Broadband TV News – (thanks Gordon S Valentine for the link)

96 thoughts on “BBC Trust Approves Freesat Entry Into Pay VOD”

  1. Neil I don’t expect to get ITV Player anytime soon (if ever) with my Technisat as it isn’t on the ITV player list of boxes they are going to support so I’m not hopeful about getting Lovefilm etc either. Not really bothered as I like my movies projected in HD with DTS HD 5.1or7.1 Master Audio as found on Blu-ray discs.
    My next box will probably be a YouView compatible one if it ever get off the ground with Freesat.

  2. Richard, I have a Technisat HDFS receiver. I emailed both Freesat and ITV and both companies have confirmed that ITV Player will be making its way to the Technisat.

  3. I was under the assumption that all STB’s/TV’s now supporting iPlayer will also support ITV Player and future VOD/on-demand services.

    Richard, I know what you mean about BluRay, you can’t beat quality but if there’s ever a time I just fancied watching something ‘on impulse’ then I’d possibly pay for a one-off streaming version providing the quality at least matches good SD video.

  4. @52
    Thanks Lee, that’s good to hear. It’s just strange the Technisat as one of the best HD boxes out there isn’t on the ITV list but lesser makes are.
    Don’t know about that Neil. It depends if we get a download or not. Technisat don’t seem big on developers listings. Fingers crossed though.

  5. Panasonic aren’t listed either but Freesat (via someone at their call centre who was pretty knowledgeable) told me last week that Panasonic are apparently the next to have ITV Player enabled. Makes a difference from being one of the last with BBC iPlayer!!

    I’m pretty confident the Technisat will get it, seems whoever at ITV wrote that webpage probably wasn’t furnished with the full range of Freesat products!

  6. Freesat should resist any paytv offering and stay as it is-otherwise,what is the point of it being free? I personally would say no to the addition of pay tv on freesat,it is not necessary.

  7. Freesat is great at what it does and The iPlayer is a nice bonus but thats about as far as it should go with Video On Demand via broadband.
    If this is something that you would like, just do the job properly and get an Apple TV box. It is the perfect add on to Freesat, my Humax HDR remote even works with my Apple TV so I don’t have to have another controller.
    A lot of the best stuff is free on the ATV – Podcasts, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr and all the photos and music from your own computer. If you do want pay for content there is so much to choose from and it works so well.
    Don’t wait for a half-baked effort in the distant future, get on it now, it’s fantastic.

  8. Nat
    What does the Apple TV box do that a computer connected to my plasma TV dosen’t do? I’m not into paying Apple for content so don’t see much advantage in it.

  9. @ Richard Crichton 59

    Its all about ease of use. Just look at the simple remote on the ATV and then at the keyboard/mouse of a PC (Thats why Google TV failed).
    Its got to be usable and enjoyable for all the family and thats what the ATV is (and its only £99!)

  10. I’ve got a Keysonic handheld wireless keyboard with mouse pad also the Microsoft remote control and the IBM P4 3.2Ghz PC was only £80. Think I’ll pass on the Apple thingy thanks all the same for your suggestion.

  11. I basically agree with all of those who say that Freesat should stay free. However, I can switch my Humax box out of Freesat mode and access a lot of other channels. Those channels do not cost Freesat anything in terms of bandwidth etc. If there happened to be a Pay-per-view (PPV) option (either within the Freeview estate, or as a separate entity) then those who were so minded could opt to pay for a particular event.

    It would be essential that it did not steal programmes from Freesat and dilute what is currently available for free. There are already several options on my Humax box which I do not use and PPV could just be one more.

    The problem is that viewers who are happy to pay for the occasional programme have to look elsewhere because their Freesat box won’t let them do it. We all want Freesat to grow – to get lots of viewers so that additional channels find it worthwhile to migrate to our platform. Most of us are adamant about not paying. Should be block the facility (on the right terms) for those who are willing to pay?

  12. The ad campaign for freesat has always stated that it is subscription free TV, nothing more to pay, ever. Why change a winning formula ? Freesat is still the fastest growing TV platform, and I am sure that is down to the fact that it is a free, no strings attached service.

  13. @Jock, the problem is once you start to allow PFV there’s no way of stopping existing channels switching over to PFV. Especially as once Freesat is encrypted, all broadcast mediums are encryptable eg. Sky, Freesat, Virgin and Freeview. Once in that situation, any broadcaster that appears on all mediums and so couldn’t currently go encrypted has the green light to do so.

    If people want to pay for the occasional programme then their best option is to go for Freeview.

    It’s far to better to keep Freesat subscription free than to introduce some system and find free channels switching wholesale resulting in BBC Skysat. Given the alleged reported financial difficulties of some channels,it would be quite easy to foresee a large number of free channels jumping ship if encryption became available, and free tv returning to the main 5 channels plus shopping!

  14. Any kind of VOD or pay service goes against the nature of the name freesat. Freesat at its core is meant to be a free service, yes it will be a free service regardless, but itl be a free service with a pay tv addon bolted on for viewers who want to take up the optional service.

  15. @ Amind # 65, I know sorry to go off topic but Jock # 62 was suggesting Freesat should adopt a PFV system as well

  16. I think a lot of people are still not getting this…… Freesat will always remain free. The only thing which has been approved are VOD services. These are like lovefim etc .Video On Demand services are completely separate to channels you receive from freesat. I, like many other people were very worried at first , but after reading the facts nothing will change to the channels. They will remain FREE. You will only pay for extra services streamed through the likes of i-player etc..
    I do hope this clears things up..

  17. @Tony.
    I think an issue which has been raised is that if the VOD streams take off on Freesat and generate another income stream for their providers then it’s not beyonthe boundsof possibility for some of the main stream channels to go that way in the hope of more income.
    Something along this line has already come with ITV 2,3,& 4 HD going to Sky to bring in more money, they might also go VOD on Freesat?
    I seem to remeber reading that a worst case scenario could be that we end up with just the basic five terrestrial channels as free on Freesat

  18. for those interested

    Arianespace Flight VA203 – ASTRA 1N & BSAT-3c / JCSAT-110R
    Launch slated on the night of August 6, 2011

    The weather conditions being now favourable in Kourou, Arianespace has decided to restart the launch chronology of Arianespace Flight 203 with ASTRA 1N and BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R aboard.

    Saturday 06 August at 06:53 p.m., local time in Kourou, French Guiana,
    05:53 p.m. in Washington DC,
    21:53 UTC,
    11:53 p.m. in Paris

    watch live

  19. A great launch, third time lucky!!

    I was starting to wonder when 1N was actually going to get off the ground and to be honest, as the launch window came to a close hope was starting to diminish – that was until I saw green!

    Lets hope now that she’s up and running mid-Sept as the SES promotional video on the launch programme discussed.

  20. #67 – Al (Original)

    Thanks for that. One thing has been bothering me though. A recent poll on this site revealed that about two thirds of visitors to the site had Freeview as well as Freesat. Freeview has been offering paid-for services for many years without any of the nasty side effects predicted by some contributors to this debate. Sure it uses up some of the bandwidth, but it helps Freeview to pay their bills and to keep the service evolving. In spite of the lost bandwidth, Freeview offers many more viewable channels than Freesat – Dave, Yesterday, Quest, Really, 5USA, 5*, Pick TV are examples. Why should channels migrate to pay TV on Freesat when they’ve not done so on Freeview? Unless they’re facing bankruptcy and it’s a survival option. Pay TV on Freeview has had absolutely no effect on my viewing.

    The reason why channels are on Freeview and not Freesat is mainly to do with copyright and licensing issues. Sky has got most of them by the b*lls.

    My original post here was to suggest that, if Freesat boxes had the ability to deal with Pay Per View (PPV) offerings, people who were prepared to pay for the odd event could do so without having to buy another set-top box. Those of us who believe that free means free would be totally unaffected by this. The jump from PPV to subscription services is quite major and not something I would advocate.

  21. @ Jock the reason is as I said above. They couldn’t go PTV on Freeview because they were in the clear and FTA on Freesat.

  22. i actually wish they would allow pay channels. make the current channels stay free and allow new channels to be pay. That way ITV2-4HD could be added for say £2/month. ESPNHD could be added for £8/month etc. pay a small amount a month instead of having to have an expensive subscription to sky or virgin would be much better.

  23. #76 sam

    All Freesat boxes have a “non Freesat” mode and I believe all Freesat boxes have a CAM slot, allowing a viewing card to be used. Your wish could partially be met by keeping Freesat free and allowing any subscription services to operate outside Freesat mode.

    I say “partially” because I do not see your suggested subscriptions being met. Sky has got your suggested channels under contract. It would not make sense for Sky to allow such channels to be viewed for a lower subscription than they are already charging.

  24. @78
    All Freesat boxes don’t have a cam slot and those that do don’t have a CAM reader they just use the same case.

  25. A fair few TV’s have CAM slots but also without a CAM itself your pretty stuck. Saying that, I believe Top Up TV are launching a CAM for Sky Sports subscriptions this Month so not impossible I suppose.

  26. #80 – Richard Crichton

    My understanding is that the CAM module slides into the CAM slot on the receiver (TV or STB). The CAM module is specific to the service to which you subscribe. The service provider then issues a viewing card which slides into the CAM module, allowing you to receive the subscription channels.

    If this is the case. then enabling it in non-Freesat mode would allow people with money to burn to stay with their Freesat receivers and remain part of the Freesat family.

  27. This post relates to VOD on demand via broadband.
    I don’t think we’ll ever see a broadcaster asking us Freesat users to buy a CAM reader for our box or TV set just to watch their encrypted channel.
    The only thing that you can’t (easily) access via broadband is Premiership football. It would have to be something as huge as that before we (as Freesat users) start equipping our boxes with CAM readers.

  28. If you have money to burn then just go with Sky. You can get as many PTV channels as you want then and the boxes are free with subscription. Its hard to see any reason why Freesat would want to seek to retain people on Freesat who wanted full on pay tv.

  29. I think the only thing this is pointing to is that LOVE Film would be allowed to offer their subscription service via broadband on Freesat equipment.

  30. …just out of interest, what are you guys using to get Video On Demand on your TV set at the moment?
    I’m using the Apple TV, Richard Crichton has his PC connected to his TV but there must be some more of us.

  31. @82 jock
    Interesting that but the Technisat HDFS for one dosen’t have a CAM slot can’t speak for the other boxes.

  32. Nat@86 I’m looking to buy a Samsung BluRay to stream Lovefilm and others plus use it as a media centre. I tried to use my Foxsat HDpvr with a hard drive attached to stream music and photos but it was so slow.

  33. @ peterhb 70

    As for ITV 2,3,4 hd as I have mentioned before , they have now the best of both worlds. Having seen their hd versions , I can tell you now we are not missing a great deal. I cannot see them changing what they are doing now. Yes , more channels might stick with s*y for hd channels just for the money but I can’t see this affecting freesat as sd versions will still be available. I don’t think we will ever get to the 5 channel scenario. Let’s not forget freesat has been growing from strength to strength since it began & it really is the place to watch great quality FREE tv!
    I still think vod will not affect freesat viewing in the slightest and lets remember not everyone will be able or be prepared to spend (especially in this climate) for extra viewing they do not need.
    Just look at 3D , from what I can gather from people I know in the retail business it’s been an almighty flop with no signs of it getting much better. Betamax & video 2000 springs to mind… People are still trying to get their heads around HD.
    So all in all I don’t think we have to start worrying just yet….

  34. Congratulations to BBC News 24 for the real reality TV from two nights ago. The helicam shots from the news copter were superb.

  35. Off topic – Interesting article in our local (Sussex) paper stating that next years switch over to digital will reduce Freeview channels drastically to around 20 channels or less due to the relay stations. Apparently if they increase output it will clash with French tv – unquote.
    Good time to promote Freesat?

  36. #91 – Barrie

    The (analogue) relays have always been low power in order to serve small communities without causing interference in neighbouring areas. This remains true after DSO. The digital signal seems more robust, so the intended audience should receive good steady pictures at what seems like silly transmission powers. Many of the relays only had 4 analogue transponders as most of them did not bother to add Channel 5. Viewers of these relays could only receive four channels and reception quality varied a lot.

    After DSO there will be four multiplexers – one for the BBC, one for ITV and one for some extra channels, Viewers who have had to put up with just four analogue channels for years will now get 15 – 20. The icing on the cake is that all relays will carry four HD channels (the same four you got on analogue!). And you can get an HD STB fro Tesco Direct for £30!

    You should find that the main transmitters which drive these relays carry the full range of digital channels.(~75) Where possible they will work within the same frequency groups as the analogue service, so that no changes to aerials will be needed. In special cases – like those of you who shake hands with the French – it might be necessary to fit a rooftop array which works in a different frequency group. If that is the case, you will be given plenty of warning by the DSO people.

    The more people who join the Freesat family the better, but Freeview still has a lot going for it.

  37. Harvard are releasing a new range if Freesat boxes which are compatible with internet and companion device (smart phone or tablet computer) functionality. The STBs will be sold under a new brand, View21 and users will be able to stream live and recorded content from the box and schedule recordings, through a smartphone or tablet app. Apparently Freeview are getting similar boxes as well.

  38. @Barrie 86
    It’ll be amazing once you get your music, photo’s and home movies streaming to your TV. We definitely look at our photo’s a lot more since getting the Apple TV. The other thing that has changed is that we BUY hardly any films anymore ( just a couple on Bluray) we just rent them from iTunes in HD when we choose. I’ve got a US iTunes account and we can even rent films that are pre-cinema releases. The cost can add up if there are a lot of good films released at once but some months we don’t rent any. Either way I think that Freesat + online content is a far better option than paying for SKY.

  39. @Jock 92
    Thanks for clearing that up. Our local fishwrapper is not known for its accuracy!
    @94 Nat 94
    Much as I like LoveFilm the lack of titles from Universal is very annoying and detrimental to a really good service. So I may look into your set up!

  40. @Barrie 95
    Just Google setting up a US iTunes account. We’ve just rented RIO in HD, I think it’s on at the cinema over here now. If you want to see whats available just change your iTunes store on your computer to the US store.
    I’ll stop banging on about how good the Apple TV is now.

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