Join Freesat


Feb 14 2013

Author: Giles Cottle is Head of Strategy at freesat

Let’s be honest, we all love free carbs and sugar on a Monday morning, so as a newcomer to freesat – I started three weeks ago, heading up our strategy team – I enjoyed starting my week with doughnuts at freesat Towers to celebrate our 3 millionth sale. But more importantly to me, we also announced the imminent launch of YouTube on the freesat <free time> platform. This is ground breaking for the UK on a number of levels

YouTube, of course, is already on a range of connected devices and services worldwide. But what we have here at freesat is the first deployment outside of the US of the HTML5 version of YouTube on a TV platform – which, in our humble opinion, looks fantastic. In fact <free time> is the first free TV platform to have launched this version of YouTube, and is the only free TV platform in the world to have done so, something we are particularly proud of.

Typically, any content provider – and in this case the world’s leading User Generated provider – will only launch services on the biggest platforms or devices with the greatest numbers of viewers or users. freesat, although one of the fastest growing UK TV platforms, is far from the biggest. So why did YouTube chose us?

The answer lies in our overall strategy. We are all about viewers. What they want, and what we think they might want – is what we will seek to deliver. When talking to viewers, the statement that comes up time and time again is that people have access to hundreds of channels, but think there’s never anything to watch. We want to put a stop to this, and we want <free time> to be the platform that allows viewers to get all of the content they want, easily and quickly, on one platform.

Today that content is still, by and large, broadcast TV. We each watch over four hours a day of it and rising, on average. But our customers also tell us that, beyond the broadcast services they love, they want access to a few extra online big brands that they also value. And online brands don’t come much bigger than YouTube, as the thousands of Twitter mentions of our deal on Monday goes to show.

And the technology choices we made 18 months ago when delivering <free time>, some of which were extremely risky at the time, have allowed us to deliver this. Not to labour the point, but open standards are at the heart of <free time>. <free time> is based on HbbTV, the hybrid TV standard which, although becoming increasingly accepted in Europe, has not yet been widely adopted in the UK, where most providers have chosen to use proprietary standards.

And we built our user interface in HTML5, a step few TV providers have taken. We chose to use HTML5 for a few reasons. While there was still some integration work to be done to add YouTube to <free time>, it was achieved far more quickly within an HTML5 framework than would otherwise have been possible (this also reduced the time that the rest of team freesat had to suffer the awful, power ballard-centric music tastes of Raj, our technical lead, while the app was being tested).

HTML5 also gives us the advantage of flexibility and agility, which is crucial for players like us. And we think it looks great, and allows us to do lots of things with user interfaces that would not have been possible with proprietary technologies.

We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved with the YouTube app, but we certainly aren’t resting on our laurels. The new services and features we’re planning to add to the platform will all be about increasing choice, about giving our viewers more options to watch really desired content and, hopefully, putting an end to people thinking there’s never anything on TV.

Giles Cottle is Head of Strategy at freesat

This post originated from freesat’s new blog site.

59 Responses to “Why freesat is betting the house on HTML5”

  1. Daniel Says:

    If freesat is all about what viewers want, why have many people’s 5 year calls for a dedicated sports channel been ignored?

      Quote

  2. Keith Says:

    If freesat is about what viewers want, why have loyal supporters of the service been left out of receiving youtube? By that, I mean those of us that have spent money on good quality HD boxes and recorder’s only to be ignored when something new comes out.

      Quote

  3. Shaun Says:

    Because sports are expensive to get the rights for so no channel is going to just broadcast them for free. Freesat just provide the infrastructure not the channels, you’d have to ask Sky or BT why they won’t make their channels free.

      Quote

  4. Terry Says:

    Keith said: If freesat is about what viewers want, why have loyal supporters of the service been left out of receiving youtube? By that, I mean those of us that have spent money on good quality HD boxes and recorder’s only to be ignored when something new comes out.

    Because technology moves on and the the old tech is incapable of running HTML5.

    The same way an iPad 1 can’t run a lot of new functionality in the latest iOS update.

    You bought a “good quality HD box” that never promised YouTube and it would be unreasonable and unfounded for you to expect it. I bought one too. I know the older generations of tech are less capable and so I don’t expect it to do anything that comes along now.

    This is not a case of them being able to, but refusing to do it because they want to gouge you for more money, it’s a technical limitation. Also: technology marches ever onward. Get used to it!

      Quote

  5. Brian Damage Says:

    But why not support HbbTV instead?

    This is already an internationally recognised protocol for for IPTV, it’s supported by many hardware providers acress Europe, and would require no costly hardware upgrades.

      Quote

  6. Keith Says:

    Terry said: Because technology moves on and the the old tech is incapable of running HTML5.
    The same way an iPad 1 can’t run a lot of new functionality in the latest iOS update.
    You bought a “good quality HD box” that never promised YouTube and it would be unreasonable and unfounded for you to expect it. I bought one too. I know the older generations of tech are less capable and so I don’t expect it to do anything that comes along now.
    This is not a case of them being able to, but refusing to do it because they want to gouge you for more money, it’s a technical limitation. Also: technology marches ever onward. Get used to it!

    Terry, you make a fair point, but your final point “get used to it” does come over as extremely rude. I am not going to get into a slanging match over it, but that wasn’t called for.

      Quote

  7. james smith Says:

    Dose any one know the difference in the processors in the previous and the new freesat boxes? Ref why only the newer freesat boxes run HTML5

      Quote

  8. Bob H Says:

    The Humax freetime boxes support a full range of OIPF APIs, HbbTV is based on OIPF and it is actually a multi-mode web engine supporting different standards for different applications.

      Quote

  9. Richard Crichton Says:

    Admin see typo heading up OUT strategy and she’s just joined :-)

      Quote

  10. admin Says:

    Richard Crichton said:
    Admin see typo headingup OUT strategy and she’s just joined :-)

    Thanks, was taken from their site, not my fault :)

      Quote

  11. Richard Crichton Says:

    Brian Damage said:
    But why not support HbbTV instead?
    This is already an internationally recognised protocol for for IPTV, it’s supported by many hardware providers acress Europe, and would require no costly hardware upgrades.

    Freetime is based on HbbTV according to the press release.

      Quote

  12. Chris Guest Says:

    @ Shaun,

    I watch Eurosport on 19.2e free of charge, so it isn’t completely out of all reason that it couldn’t equally be offered freely on Freesat…

    …if, that is, Eurosport were willing to pay the Freesat EPG entry ticket – and then there’s Sky’s probable reluctance to allow FTA access (even though it isn’t part of their premium sports package).

      Quote

  13. Neil Says:

    An interesting article, I hope it brings more services and features to the platform, once they’ve ironed out some of the major bugs in the HDR-1000S PVR.

      Quote

  14. barrie Says:

    Will Freesat get plugged on the Youtube site (for the UK)?

      Quote

  15. Andy Says:

    Not all that bothered about watching YouTube on my TV when I can do it on my computer or tablet on the odd occasion. However, it’s an interesting development and it has to be good that Freesat are able to attract big players in what can only be a growing area of broadcasting.

    One thing that would encourage more people to move to the new G2 standard and buy a box would be genuinely new and useful features. $ky’s iPad app sounds really good and it can’t be rocket science to implement something similar on Freesat. Being able to stream content from a Freesat recorder over my local network to my iPad (“other tablets are available”) would be a genuinely useful feature worthy of upgrading.

    Until Freesat introduce things like that I’ll be sticking with my first generation Humax Freesat HDR.

      Quote

  16. Scott Says:

    @chris guest
    You are watching the German broadcast of Eurosport on Astra 19.2. The analog version will be closing, if not already, so you will loose the English audio, in digital format. It has remained free as it is considered scrambled when in German audio (for some bazaar reason)

      Quote

  17. Keith (original) Says:

    @12, Chris. I assume you are referring to Eurosport Deuchland? I use this for the Grand Slam tennis matches that are not shown, or no longer shown, on Freesat channels. I believe it is a cultural difference. The Germans don’t like subscription TV – in much the same way Italians don’t believe in paying for rock concerts, hence Genesis’ free gig in Rome a few years back.

    However, Eurosport Deuchland 2 and the HD versions(s) are encrypted (before anyone gets too excited), and commentary is only available in German.

      Quote

  18. Steve Says:

    Daniel said:
    If freesat is all about what viewers want, why have many people’s 5 year calls for a dedicated sports channel been ignored?

    Do you REALLY need that explaining? We can draw you a picture if you want it.

      Quote

  19. Derek (Original) Says:

    Freesat is making such a big deal about the availability of Youtube, but as has already been mentioned, it’s readily available through other sources. I don’t recall anyone on this site specifically asking for it, so Admin, how about a poll to see if there really is/was a demand for it.

      Quote

  20. jezB Says:

    So, 3 million Freesat units sold ……..

    I guess over 2.9 million of them will be unable to use YouTube with their current equipment. Good PR strategy to publicly alienate, and irritate, 90+ % of installed base ?

      Quote

  21. Terry Says:

    Keith said: Terry, you make a fair point, but your final point “get used to it” does come over as extremely rude. I am not going to get into a slanging match over it, but that wasn’t called for.

    Keith, it wasn’t meant that way: I meant it as in ‘we all have to get used to it’, just like I had to – you, me and the rest of the planet!

    Peace & love. ;)

      Quote

  22. Saltydawg Says:

    If you look at the poll on the left hand side of this page it says 2,179 weren’t interested in getting the new free time box. I suspect some of the people here who are moaning about not being able get Yuotube also voted they weren’t interested in getting the new box………I rest my case :D

      Quote

  23. Neil Says:

    What they need to get next on the freetime service is Netflix and Lovefilm.

      Quote

  24. Russ Says:

    Saltydawg said:
    If you look at the poll on the left hand side of this page it says 2,179 weren’t interested in getting the new free time box. I suspect some of the people here who are moaning about not being able get Yuotube also voted they weren’t interested in getting the new box………I rest my case

    In fact it says 738 people are not interested, 2,179 represents the total votes cast.

      Quote

  25. Tony Rogers Says:

    Once again the cry of “My old set/box won’t work this new stuff” !
    Of course it won’t…it’s called progress.
    You need to work harder, give up smoking and spend more money
    on technology. Give your old equipment to the poor and start to
    feel like a better person.
    There are sheds full of people in China and Taiwan who need your
    input in order to achieve the dream of “The Golden Widget”.
    This widget will never date or be improved on. Oh Yeah ?

      Quote

  26. fatbloke Says:

    Keith@17
    I wouldn’t pay to watch Genesis either!!

      Quote

  27. Rosco Says:

    Daniel said:
    If freesat is all about what viewers want, why have many people’s 5 year calls for a dedicated sports channel been ignored?

    There have been about half a dozen fta sports channels launch on Sky in the last 10 years. They have been an unmitigated disaster – every single one has gone encrypted, morphed into another service (usually a babe channel!) or just closed down.

    Sports rights are expensive, so unless you want a channel devoted to speed knitting or underwater tiddlywinks you can forget any hope of getting a fta sports channel.

      Quote

  28. Rich Says:

    Sounds good. I’ll want to get a bit more life out of my £2-300 Humax Foxsat HDR first though. Once the new Freetime boxes support some of the other stuff that connected TV’s offer (like Netflix, Lovefilm, etc) I’ll likely take the plunge. Hell, if they can get Spotify on there too, I’d be all over it like a rash.

      Quote

  29. Clem Dye Says:

    If Freesat is all about making the platform more accessible how about a few more HD channels such as More4HD, Film4HD — the channels that just surfaced on $ky. Oh, and how about encouraging manufacturers to actually make kit that can receive a Freesat transmission? Trying buying anything other than the new Humax? There’s next to nothing available now. It’s all very well going on about HTML5 but how about getting the basics right first? Not impressed …..

      Quote

  30. Richard Crichton Says:

    Clem Dye said:
    If Freesat is all about making the platform more accessible how about a few more HD channels such as More4HD, Film4HD — the channels that just surfaced on $ky. Oh, and how about encouraging manufacturers to actually make kit that can receive a Freesat transmission? Trying buying anything other than the new Humax? There’s next to nothing available now. It’s all very well going on about HTML5 but how about getting the basics right first? Not impressed …..

    So what other free platform gives you six HD channels? More 4 HD and Film4 HD only exist because they are contracted to Sky. Freesat cannot create HD channels from thin air and since it’s free I have no complaints.

      Quote

  31. Rosco Says:

    Clem Dye said:
    If Freesat is all about making the platform more accessible how about a few more HD channels such as More4HD, Film4HD — the channels that just surfaced on $ky.

    Not going to happen anytime soon – so get over it.

      Quote

  32. Neil Says:

    Clem Dye said:
    If Freesat is all about making the platform more accessible how about a few more HD channels such as More4HD, Film4HD — the channels that just surfaced on $ky. Oh, and how about encouraging manufacturers to actually make kit that can receive a Freesat transmission? Trying buying anything other than the new Humax? There’s next to nothing available now. It’s all very well going on about HTML5 but how about getting the basics right first? Not impressed …..

    So if you call Sky and ask them what range of STB’s they have they’ll just tell you “the standard one we give you” – they are all the same. Freesat’s closest competitor which is strictly a ‘closed’ platform has a single style of STB with single streamlined firmware, at least with freesat you’ve actually got a choice! Granted, Sky have a single receiver option available but that’s for multiroom only and not available as a standalone product.

      Quote

  33. Al (Original) Says:

    Shaun said:
    Because sports are expensive to get the rights for so no channel is going to just broadcast them for free. Freesat just provide the infrastructure not the channels, you’d have to ask Sky or BT why they won’t make their channels free.

    Extreme broadcast for free for some time until Sky subscribed them to the pay model, perhaps to stop rivals getting them?

    Pity, because a channel like Extreme would be perfect for Freesat as Extreme sports are much cheaper to obtain rights for.

    jezB said:
    So, 3 million Freesat units sold ……..
    I guess over2.9 million of them will be unable to use YouTube with their current equipment. Good PR strategy to publicly alienate, and irritate, 90+ % of installed base ?

    It’s not Freesat’s fault. As pointed out above the existing boxes can’t run the HTML5 format. They also do not have powerful enough processing power to support features such as Freetime.

    Everything moves on. HD is already old hat as 4K is all but here. The 1st tv’s are out there, albeit at huge prices and 4K PC monitors and game consoles are now appearing.

    Progress is inevitable with tech. Accept what you have and enjoy it. I have a Humax HDR and have no plans to change it until it breaks down.

      Quote

  34. A. Noyed Says:

    Bob H said:
    The Humax freetime boxes support a full range of OIPF APIs, HbbTV is based on OIPF and it is actually a multi-mode web engine supporting different standards for different applications.

    If it supports every api under the sun, Then why is it taking so long to bring the other on demand players to freesat, when other tv manufacturers and your own youview box already support these?
    Why can’t it even have the channels the G1 box has, like the space or box office 365?

      Quote

  35. r.crichton Says:

    A. Noyed said: If it supports every api under the sun, Then why is it taking so long to bring the other on demand players to freesat, when other tv manufacturers and your own youview box already support these?
    Why can’t it even have the channels the G1 box has, like the space or box office 365?
    </blockquote

    A very good question.

      Quote

  36. Richard Crichton Says:

    NHK is bypassing 4K and going straight to 8K so 4K is also already old hat.

      Quote

  37. Keith Cobby Says:

    Technological progress can lead to a dead-end and sometimes products are introduced before the market is ready for them.

    Genesis ‘When in Rome’ an excellent DVD of a marvellous concert. Where is the Blu-ray?

      Quote

  38. Vikas Says:

    My VCR won’t play blu rays :(

      Quote

  39. Big Adam Says:

    Vikas said: My VCR won’t play blu rays

    Serves you right for buying into Betamax when the rest of us know that VHS is the future…..

      Quote

  40. Anthony Says:

    I would like to see a two way system over Freesat that avoids a broadband phoneline return path offering two way internet/videoondemand and streaming all handled via a two way satellite path so there’s no need to pay a broadband charge and phoneline rental for connected STB services thru a broadband phoneline as presently so.

      Quote

  41. Vikas Says:

    Big Adam said: Serves you right for buying into Betamax when the rest of us know that VHS is the future…..

    Try telling that to my friends at JoinVCR :(

    We are all annoyed that we spent good money on VCRs and now they don’t play other formats.

      Quote

  42. Dipper Says:

    Anthony says,

    “I would like to see a two way system over Freesat that avoids a broadband phoneline return path offering two way internet/videoondemand and streaming all handled via a two way satellite path so there’s no need to pay a broadband charge and phoneline rental for connected STB services thru a broadband phoneline as presently so.”

    You want a satellite uplink in your home? If you want to pay thousands of pounds for equipment & ongoing costs for uplink time rental then you’ve got a lot more disposable income than me!

    The most expensive broadband package dwindles into insignificance in comparison.

      Quote

  43. Kate Says:

      Quote

  44. Kate Says:

    There are some odd comments in that article like “technology choices we made 18 months ago when delivering “. Does that person think was released 18 months ago or is it just poor wording and the person meant to say specified. There are a number of other odd comments but that one in particular stand out.

      Quote

  45. Kate Says:

    I shouldn’t have used brackets around free time as in the article!

      Quote

  46. r.crichton Says:

    Kate said:
    Sat broadband isn’t that expensive!
    http://www.toowaydirect.com/landing-pages/satellite-broadband-provides-fast-internet/

    £39.99 for 6mb upload seems pretty pricey to me.

      Quote

  47. Kate Says:

    The suggestion was that it would cost thousands for a two way sat link!

    Did you read the previous posts?

      Quote

  48. Dipper Says:

    Kate,

    I stand corrected. Things have moved on a great deal since I first started looking at satellite uplinks. Tooway seems very good value for money if standard broadband isn’t available where you need it.

    Thanks for putting me straight.

    Kind regards.

      Quote

  49. admin Says:

    Dipper said:
    Kate,
    I stand corrected. Things have moved on a great deal since I first started looking at satellite uplinks. Tooway seems very good value for money if standard broadband isn’t available where you need it.
    Thanks for putting me straight.
    Kind regards.

    Except the bandwidth allowances are still truly terrible!

      Quote

  50. Dipper Says:

    Agreed, Admin. But for general use where you can’t get phone broadband it doesn’t seem too bad.

      Quote

  51. Alison Fairgrieve Says:

    Tony Rogers said:
    Once again the cry of “My old set/box won’t work this new stuff” !
    Of course it won’t…it’s called progress.
    You need to work harder, give up smoking and spend more money
    on technology. Give your old equipment to the poor and start to
    feel like a better person.
    There are sheds full of people in China and Taiwan who need your
    input in order to achieve the dream of “The Golden Widget”.
    This widget will never date or be improved on. Oh Yeah ?

    What do you mean give to the poor? I AM poor and when I tried to give away my useless VCR recorder on Freecycle, nobody wanted it and it went to the tip.
    I have had Freesat for three years and nobody has asked me my opinion. I do many surveys online and Freesat is rarely mentioned.
    i to, have a cultural objection to subscription TV (and anything remotely connected with Rupert Murdoch. As I am now 75, I don’tOn’t even have to pay for the BBC. And because of my age I cannot afford to upgrade my three SD boxes either until they breaqk down

      Quote

  52. Alison Fairgrieve Says:

    I see numerous typos above because while typing I could not see the edges of the box. What is wrong with this site?

      Quote

  53. Anthony Says:

    Alison Fairgrieve said: What do you mean give to the poor? I AM poor and when I tried to give away my useless VCR recorder on Freecycle, nobody wanted it and it went to the tip.
    I have had Freesat for three years and nobody has asked me my opinion. I do many surveys online and Freesat is rarely mentioned.
    i to, have a cultural objection to subscription TV (and anything remotely connected with Rupert Murdoch. As I am now 75, I don’tOn’t even have to pay for the BBC. And because of my age I cannot afford to upgrade my three SD boxes either until they breaqk down

    I sort of sympathise. It’s a shame nobody has ever thought of bringing out a Freesat dvd vcr hdd unit with twin-tuners and hd reception;Panasonic has such a unit out albeit single tuner Freeview sd only with 250gb hard drive triple speed vhs hifi stereo vcr and multiformat dvd recorder and the facility to play photos and video and audio files from usb pendrive.

      Quote

  54. james smith Says:

    **Anthony*** Ref your idea of a Freesat dvd vcr hdd unit with twin-tuners and hd reception–Where you thinking of V2000 or Betamax

      Quote

  55. Ed Says:

    So HbbTV is possible on the HDR. HibbTV is used in Europe and can deliver interactive TV. This is the first implementation of HTML 5 YouTube on a FTA system.

    Therefore if Freesat had not made the choices they had made to go for HTML5 people with a G1 Humax could have probably got YouTube. Since it is already being programmed for other services elsewhere in Europe it would not have been difficult to port.

    Therefore in other words because we decided to go for HTML5 it looks great for new users, but for current users tough.

    To be fair I can understand why you cannot keep holding back what new users get to please the people who already have boxes, but are Humax delivering more on the same G1 HDR hardware platform elsewhere and if so could they just leak the code to someone who can develop a custom firmware for the rest of us?

    The problem for Humax is I think my box will probably still work fine in 20 years time, so why upgrade…

      Quote

  56. Anthony Says:

    james smith said: **Anthony*** Ref your idea of a Freesat dvd vcr hdd unit with twin-tuners and hd reception–Where you thinking of V2000 or Betamax

    No none of those two formats. Having a VHS triplespeed vcr in such a unit would allow people with extensive VHS home video collections of family tapes and/or VHS tape releases to enjoy those and/or transfer the family video tapes to DVD to preserve those memories further(tape doesn’t last forever). Also with it having a twin Freesat HD tuner, VHS triplespeed VCR, hard drive and multifunction DVD recorder, people can watch on channel whilst recording another, and if they want to, make acceptable quality copies of the Freesat SD/HD broadcasts for themselves onto DVD and/or VHS.

      Quote

  57. james smith Says:

    ****Anthony**** Being more serious, if you want personel copies of Freesat broadcasts, as long as you do not have the Freetime box it is easy. It just needs a flash drive and modestly priced software—People still use video tape!!! What about 8 track?

      Quote

  58. Lee S Says:

    Back to the HTML5 subject. If Giles Cottle is making such a noise about the future of HTML5 and how good it is, then why make us consumers pay £279 for a piece of new hardware when Freesat and ITV can’t even implement ITV Player in this format??

    I have to say I was pretty appalled and disappointed to find out that the Humax HDR-1000s has a second rate ITV Player using the old MHEG format. Having experienced the ITV Player on Youview, it is completely worlds apart – much like the web version.

    I was also disappointed to find out that the Freesat ITV Player being used on the new Humax is the same application from the G1 boxes. Thats progress for you!

      Quote

  59. Andrew Says:

    Just seen a picture of a Freetime box demonstrating YouTube at Freesat Towers. And it’s made by Sagemcom! Also refers to a new “slave” Freesat box.
    See http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2013/02/28/html5-behind-freesat-youtube-connection/

      Quote

Leave a Reply

Freesat RSS Feed Want the latest Freesat news?
You should subscribe to our RSS Feed, as you'll get all the latest Freesat news, reviews and information!