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Nov 22 2013

Freesat to bring Freetime to smart TVs next year with OPALNews article courtesy of DigitalTVEurope.net

UK free-to-air satellite operator Freesat has launched an initiative to bring its Freetime connected TV platform to smart TVs, enabling viewers to access catch-up TV and other non-DVR Freetime features such as the backwards EPG without the need for a set-top box.

Freesat is already integrated with some Panasonic and Samsung TV, but without Freetime’s advanced features.

Speaking at the OTTtv World Summit this morning, Matthew Huntington, chief technology officer, Freesat, said traditional operators could be overly attached to the set-top box and needed to break free, providing the “operator as application”, especially to the TV set.

Freesat has developed Operator Privileged Application Layer (OPAL), which enables operators to provide a full set of services via connected TVs.

“Broadcasters and OTT providers can learn from each other, and the work we’ve done on OPAL is evidence of this,” he said.

“We want to get our services to more devices,” Huntington told DTVE. “We are already on Panasonic and Samsung TVs but it’s difficult to get [features including] the backwards EPG on Europe-wide TV models. We are proposing to provide the user experience for core TV services embedded in [TV manufacturers'] standard UIs, so that when you press the button on the remote control you go to something like the Freesat offer on a set-top.”

Huntington said that Freesat had invested in an API layer that would enable TV set providers to offer a “privileged application”, based on a relationship between the operator and the TV manufacturer, but with a common API.

Huntington told DTVE that Freesat would be using OPAL to offer its services in 2014 model TVs, with multiple TV manufacturers lined up.

Huntington also said that Freesat is open to the introduction of pay services on the platform.

“Free homes are just as interested in VoD services and just as interested in paying for those services as pay homes,” he told conference attendees. Freesat has implemented Microsoft PlayReady DRM to enable such services.

Huntington told conference attendees that OTT and linear TV can be allies rather than enemies, at least in the UK, with viewers using OTT to access a broader range of content at a time that suits them.

“Our Freetime hybrid platform supports the delivery of catch-up services over the top and we were the first YouTube HTML5 service to launch in Europe,” he said.

Huntington said that Freesat enables links to be built between linear TV and OTT services through its backwards EPG. He said that 20% of all VoD consumed on the platform was consumed via the backwards EPG.

TV set manufacturers are losing out to tablet providers for second screens in the home, said Huntington. “We need to address that. Streaming services are emerging and we want to integrate those into our offerings. The main thing for us is looking at gateway devices and that’s something I’ll be looking at,” he said.

Huntington said that linear TV still accounted for most viewing. He cited Thinkbox’s Screenlife: TV in Demand research looking at the behaviour of heavy VoD users, which showed that being deprived of linear TV had a bigger negative impact than being deprived of VoD.

“[Users'] journey typically started with live TV. The video diaries captured on this research showed a lot of blank TV screens because people didn’t know how to start,” said Huntington. “The research also showed how important live TV was to their social lives.” Teenagers switched off their mobile phones because they couldn’t engage with social media chat about popular shows, he said.

News article courtesy of DigitalTVEurope.net

50 Responses to “Freesat to bring Freetime to smart TVs next year with OPAL”

  1. Neil Says:

    Great news that Matthew Huntington is getting in to some new avenues of development at Freesat as he was appointed earlier on in the year if I remember rightly?

    I think getting Freesat and Freetime in to manufacturers new range of TV’s again will be good for the platform. I like my Panny TV’s in this respect as it’s a ‘one box’ solution, the BS750 I’ve got obviously for recording/pause and integrates with one of my TV’s in that respect.

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  2. Chris Guest Says:

    This is timely news for me as I was about to pull the trigger on a Freesat enabled Panasonic plasma. Despite the demise of plasma (for Panasonic), this news is sufficient for to wait until Freetime is definitely integrated into Freesat enabled televisions.

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  3. dj dex Says:

    Sounds good.but the main reason is for the channels.
    My wife would like the movies 24 channel (Xmas 24 at the moment).
    The better the channels available free the more customers.

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  4. Lawrence Pearce Says:

    I’m not particularly excited by this development. I’d rather Freesat concentrated on adding a bit more functionality to existing equipment (like the ability to record internet channels just introduced on the YV platform) rather than burden already over complex TV sets with even more features.
    It’s all very well having a “one box” solution, but how many people utilize the facilities offered by so called “smart” TV sets – and what happens when the next development comes along?
    Personally I would be happy to buy just a TV monitor, leaving the channel selection, recording and internet capability to a dedicated Freesat (or Freeview) recorder. .

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  5. martin Says:

    We ll see they cant even get channels for freesat letalone anything else

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  6. scott Says:

    Huntington says freesat open for pay services. no keep it freesat as it is free fta channels.

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  7. martin Says:

    scott said:
    Huntington says freesat open for pay services. no keep it freesat as it is free fta channels.

    As long as its you r choice to add the pay tv or sports or anything I dont see a problem freeviwe is a prim egsample example of that the sister channels of the payed channels are added free as long as they dont give away the box inturn in turn for a 12 month contract I dont see a problem in fact I can see the sales going up if anything

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  8. Neil Says:

    martin said:
    We ll see they cant even get channels for freesat letalone anything else

    That’s a bit of a swift statement. There’s been loads of new channels this year, with more to come. What we’re talking about here is more functionality and new features, expanding the platform in to newer TV models, this can only be a good thing for Freesat.

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  9. martin Says:

    Neil said: That’s a bit of a swift statement. There’s been loads of new channels this year, with more to come. What we’re talking about here is more functionality and new features, expanding the platform in to newer TV models, this can only be a good thing for Freesat.

    I know I am a little by annoyed at freesat at the moment I got a freesat freetime box
    Only to find out there s more on demand on the youviwe box than on freetime pluse the channels I watch on a daily basis is dave quest yesterday and uk drama which should be on freesat as well

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  10. Paul Says:

    I find it difficult to sympathise with you, Martin. I don’t understand how you be annoyed at the platform because you have spent money without doing any research on which channels and on-demand services are available.

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  11. Richard Says:

    Paul said:
    I find it difficult to sympathise with you, Martin.I don’t understand how you be annoyed at the platform because you have spent money without doing any research on which channels and on-demand services are available.

    I got a free YV box and was annoyed that fifty channels that are on Freesat plus non Freesat weren’t on it or are only on it during the night eg Community Ch not to mention the dreary epg. One thing that’s good is the epg HD category. As for the UK gold channels boring boring boring. Never watch them.

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  12. Richard Says:

    Agree with Lawrence Pearce rather have a monitor type tv as long as it’s hd and has 4 hdmi inputs. Then you add outboard amplification and speakers (your hifi is good for this) and tuner boxes/pvrs and game machine as required.

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  13. Neil Says:

    martin said: I know I am a little by annoyed at freesat at the moment I got a freesat freetime boxOnly to find out there s more on demand on the youviwe box than on freetime pluse the channels I watch on a daily basis is dave quest yesterday and uk drama which should be on freesat as well

    Maybe they will one day Martin but we’ll never know. I’ve just got my hands on a Humax freetime box and had a play with it over the weekend, very impressed at how it’s moved on from the HDR (which was good too). youview may offer more on-demand but that’s where it ends! As Richard mentions, DTT is a crippled platform with SD broadcasts at appauling bitrates, some people who will get little extra in terms of more HD (others more) but think Freesat has the potential to match youview in terms of on-demand if they can get the providers on-board, even if those providers may not be identical to the ones currently on youview.

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  14. Al Says:

    Who needs freetime or a smart tv? A £12 cable connecting my Denon amp to my Nexus 7 tablet gives me loads more functionality and BT Sport for free.

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  15. Ian Vallender Says:

    maybe just maybe this might be the spark for more manufacturers to produce not just free time in tvs but more box choice i dont know whats holding back Manhattan & Sagemcom? I’d thought either one of them would of at least anounced a free time box by now!

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  16. Paul Says:

    What is this story actually saying underneath all of the acronyms and press release blather?

    Is it saying that Freesat have written an app which will be given to any TV manufacturer who wants to use it in a satelite enabled TV, and all they have to do is patch it into the TV’s software? Or is there something else going on that i can’t work out?

    Paul.

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  17. Richard Says:

    Paul said:
    What is this story actually saying underneath all of the acronyms and press release blather?
    Is it saying that Freesat have written an app which will be given to any TV manufacturer who wants to use it in a satelite enabled TV, and all they have to do is patch it into the TV’s software?Or is there something else going on that i can’t work out?
    Paul.

    I don’t think you even need a dish. Think are talking about VOD pay services via broadband like they have on U-VU and now on DTT HD from VuTV on Ch238 which statred yesterday.

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  18. Richard Says:

    Richard said: I don’t think you even need a dish. Think are talking about VOD pay services via broadband like they have on U-VU and now on DTT HD from VuTV on Ch238 which statred yesterday.

    NOTE: YouView boxes will not support VuTV and other services from channel 225 in the guide. (From VuTV).

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  19. Richard Says:

    Instead of all this opal what I would like to see is a HD filter/category (like tt-uvu have) on the guide instead of having to jump all over the place for HD channels as at present.

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  20. admin Says:

    Agreed, why Freesat didn’t introduce a HD category on the freetime boxes is beyond me; only Manhattan seem to have got away with the ability to make your own HD list.

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  21. Richard Says:

    admin said:
    Agreed, why Freesat didn’t introduce a HD category on the freetime boxes is beyond me; only Manhattan seem to have got away with the ability to make your own HD list.

    Talking about Manhattan which has great non Freesat support BBC News 24HD is on 11023 H 23000 label 8921 and a 5.1 test card is on same label 8932.

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  22. admin Says:

    Yep, just test cards, due to launch next week I believe.

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  23. Richard Says:

    admin said:
    Yep, just test cards, due to launch next week I believe.

    BBC News HD is actually on not just a test card.

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  24. Paul Says:

    News HD is still upscaled SD, and there is no Red Button datastream attached yet. Subtitle data is present.

    The BBC3/CBBC pair has the BBC Three HD logo, appropriately the one with the word “New” below the channel name.

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  25. Paul Says:

    Red Button datastream now attached to BBC News HD, BBC3/CBBC and BBC4/CBeebies but it’s only active if the STB is not connected to the broadband line. If the ‘net is connected, pressing red button has no effect. No RB on screen prompts yet.

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  26. Neil Says:

    admin said:
    Yep, just test cards, due to launch next week I believe.

    I think the launch is on the 10th to coincide with the second stage of initial DTT HD site rollout but not confirmed yet.

    Paul said:
    Red Button datastream now attached to BBC News HD, BBC3/CBBC and BBC4/CBeebies but it’s only active if the STB is not connected to the broadband line.If the ‘net is connected, pressing red button has no effect.No RB on screen prompts yet.

    The RB data PID’s are also mapped to the EPG data so you won’t get a prompt in ‘non freesat’ mode. When CBBC HD briefly appeared on 607 last week the RB prompt appeared on-screen.

    Even though the BBC News HD test is still upscaled SD, it’s a big improvement from the current SD version, will look good in native HD as I do think the BBC have done a great job with the new News Centre in W1, looks much better than Sky’s poor show virtual studios!

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  27. peterhb Says:

    Richard said: Talking about Manhattan which has great non Freesat support BBC News 24HD is on 11023 H 23000 label 8921 and a 5.1 test card is on same label 8932.

    I have a Humax Foxsat HD STB in use as a secondary source for Freesat and it has a selection tab which brings all the HD channels up in a list and you can select which one you want and away you go !!

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  28. Paul Says:

    Neil said: The RB data PID’s are also mapped to the EPG data so you won’t get a prompt in ‘non freesat’ mode. When CBBC HD briefly appeared on 607 last week the RB prompt appeared on-screen.

    Ah yes, of course. I was forgetting that as I’m running the Raydon custom firmware on the Humax and adding non-Freesat channels into the Freesat EPG it doesn’t behave like a standard box.

    In the meantime there was a change overnight. 3 and 4 were at black level with just the HD DOGs in place, and no test tones. I hope 4′s DOG is the finished article as it’s very subdued.

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  29. fatbloke Says:

    Why no mention or update about red button HD disappearing, thought that would have been a big deal, no more 3D then !

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  30. Paul Says:

    Correct, Fatbloke. The BBC put 3D on hold during the summer:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-23195479

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  31. Paul Says:

    Got too hasty and pressed Submit before adding that the capacity that RB HD was using will be (or is being as it’s on test) used for BBC News HD.

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  32. james smith Says:

    A simple set top box to do just the catch up would be a good idea

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  33. fatbloke Says:

    Paul @ 31
    How crazy is that, I’m sure some people will like it but I would prefer RB HD showing various programmes with big events in 3D. I think most wont care less if the news is in HD or not. Seems a waste to me.

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  34. Neil Says:

    fatbloke said:
    Paul @ 31
    How crazy is that, I’m sure some people will like it but I would prefer RB HD showing various programmes with big events in 3D. I think most wont care less if the news is in HD or not. Seems a waste to me.

    I personally prefer BBC News HD to 3D any day. Viewing of Doctor Who was something like 7m, the 3D version got 21000 viewers, says it all really!

    I would like to see a permanent RB HD, not necessarily for 3D broadcasts but will complete the BBC’s HD service rollout (there really isn’t a need for BBC Alba and Parliament HD). I suspect that this will be a long way off though unless they buy more capacity on forthcoming DTT multiplexes. The future for the RB video is via connected streaming as it’s cheaper to distribute.

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  35. Richard Says:

    The BBC will need more capacity for the planned countries versions of BBC2 HD and also the English regions versions of BBC1 HD. Not sure where this is going to come from but I welcome it.

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  36. Russ Says:

    Neil said: I personally prefer BBC News HD to 3D any day. Viewing of Doctor Who was something like 7m, the 3D version got 21000 viewers, says it all really!

    Would have been 21001, I have the latest Samsung F8000 freesat enabled smart tv unfortunately the red button 3D did not work on it.

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  37. fatbloke Says:

    Neil@34
    3D was just a bonus, I would prefer to have the RB HD rather than BBC news HD. What’s the point of having the news in HD when it could be used for something else, seems pointless.

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  38. Richard Says:

    “What’s the point of having the news in HD ”
    It’s a prestige thing. HD is the new SD. Click will look good and it makes Sky News look cheap also Aljazeera HD has just started on DTT in some areas. The BBC can’t have a foreign news channel looking better than the national broadcaster.

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  39. Paul Says:

    The Freesat EPG is fully populated with data from Tuesday 10th, for all five new BBC HD channels.

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  40. Paul Says:

    Earlier today a516digital noticed that News HD is now native HD rather than upscaled.

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  41. Neil Says:

    Richard said:
    “What’s the point of having the news in HD ”
    It’s a prestige thing. HD is the new SD. Click will look good and it makes Sky News look cheap also Aljazeera HD has just started on DTT in some areas. The BBC can’t have a foreign news channel looking better than the national broadcaster.

    Indeed, and when they’ve invested so much in that great new BBC News Centre then why not as the cost is next to nothing apart from distribution. They are now feeding the 8921 BBC News HD test with native content, looks very good compared to the bitstarved SD version! Check it out, looks much better now than the previous week this has been running.

    I wonder now then how long it will be before Sky News HD goes FTA as competition between the two national news broadcasters

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  42. Ian Vallender Says:

    All this talk of 3d no wonder why the trial was a failure they didn’t have any good movies on in 3d Street dance 3d was a load of rubbish. heres some of the movies that could have been shown in 3d. Monsters Vs. Aliens, Disney’s Bolt, Disney’s A christmas Carol, Shrek forever After, How to train your dragon, Tim Burton’s Alice in wonderland and disney pixars up .

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  43. lovinthetelly Says:

    Have just had a look at the Freesat EPG data. Data for ‘Film On TV’ (410), ‘Rishtey’ (661) and ‘Colors’ (662) has appeared. Just the basic data at the moment- no programme listings. Hardly riveting stuff, but the more the merrier I suppose.

    Still no change to the LCNs for the new HD services from the BBC. ‘BBC THREE HD’ on 147, ‘BBC FOUR HD’ on 148, ‘BBC NEWS HD’ on 212, ‘CBBC HD’ on 607, and ‘CBeebies HD’ on 608. As we’ve seen before with freesat, these numbers could change upon launch (possibly through a channel swap). According to Twitter, the launch of BBC News HD has been confirmed for Tuesday 10th.

    The mobile app looks like it is coming along nicely, although it will initially only be available to iOS devices, according to a Freesat Chat representative. They left a few pages ‘unpublished’ on their website a while back…The ability to create an account, manage numerous boxes, set remote recordings etc.. will be available. Pair through a menu on the Freetime boxes (software update required I should think).

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  44. Rosco Says:

    FilmOnTv is utter garbage. not a worthy addition in the slightest. Shame FS doent have a programming quality test really :D

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  45. Neil Says:

    lovinthetelly said:
    Have just had a look at the Freesat EPG data. Data for ‘Film On TV’ (410), ‘Rishtey’ (661) and ‘Colors’ (662) has appeared. Just the basic data at the moment- no programme listings. Hardly riveting stuff, but the more the merrier I suppose.
    Still no change to the LCNs for the new HD services from the BBC. ‘BBC THREE HD’ on 147, ‘BBC FOUR HD’ on 148, ‘BBC NEWS HD’ on 212, ‘CBBC HD’ on 607, and ‘CBeebies HD’ on 608. As we’ve seen before with freesat, these numbers could change upon launch (possibly through a channel swap). According to Twitter, the launch of BBC News HD has been confirmed for Tuesday 10th.
    The mobile app looks like it is coming along nicely, although it will initially only be available to iOS devices, according to a Freesat Chat representative. They left a few pages ‘unpublished’ on their website a while back…The ability to create an account, manage numerous boxes, set remote recordings etc.. will be available. Pair through a menu on the Freetime boxes (software update required I should think).

    Interesting updates there, looks like there’s to be a few more channel additions, even if FilmON TV is a load of trash, another few quid for Freesat. Rishtay and Colors are both quite popular Asian channels, interesting they are both joining as they went FTA and out of the Asian pay bouquet earlier on this year. All three channels have 3840 data PIDs active too so guess they are to appear next week alongside the new BBC HD channels.

    My other half will like the sound of the remote recording app to go with the new Freesat Freetime STB I installed at her Mum’s house (although she’ll soon be moving in with me!). Managed to ween her off Sky as she liked Sky’s remote record app, now really likes the Freetime STB which is good so we’ll probably buy one at our new house.

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  46. james smith Says:

    Why is it that Sky can sell a Now TV box at £10 running android that offers 4od & Demand 5, but we can’t have the above on humax foxsat boxes?

    As I understand it the Now TV box shares some Raspberry Pi componants

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  47. Richard Says:

    james smith said:
    Why is it that Sky can sell a Now TV box at £10 running android that offers 4od & Demand 5, but we can’t have the above on humax foxsat boxes?
    As I understand it the Now TV box shares some Raspberry Pi componants

    Because Humax want people to buy their G2 Freetime boxes and if they enabled the G1 Foxsat for D5 and 4OD there would be less incentive to do so.
    Sky charge lots for Now TV so they can give away the box for peanuts. The fact that it has D5 and 4OD is our good fortune.

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  48. James smith Says:

    Hi Richard,
    My £10 Now TV box after a week seams good.
    I believe that one of demand5 and 4od is awaiting a search option, but then it is new
    Though I don’t blame any one here, removing the option to archive recordings was a bad move
    Again as politely as possible, as I recall it was claimed that Freesat boxes were not powerful enough to fascilitate demand 5 and 4OD yet a quite modest arm powered box can

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  49. John N. Says:

    Dear Mr. FreeSat and Readers,
    Forgive my naivety but why can’t FreeSat convince Panasonic to back-release and incorporate the Freetime software as an integral part of their ‘Viera Connect’ browser? For information, I have the benefit of theTX-P50VT30B Plasma bought July 2011.
    Regards to all.

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  50. admin Says:

    The chipset in the Panasonics simply doesn’t have the power/capability required to host the freetime service; plus Panasonic seemingly stopped producing updates for the Freesat platform a long time ago.

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