Freeview is to concentrate its marketing power on the launch of its new high definition channels, leaving BBC iPlayer to individual manufacturers, and putting the hybrid broadband platform Canvas to one side.
Freeview managing director Isle Howling told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch that the message of the forthcoming advertising campaign would be “HD is coming to Freeview”. Howling said that although manufacturers including Samsung were planning to incorporate the iPlayer as part of their receivers through BBC syndication, this is not something Freeview would be promoting itself.
Howling reminded the Guild that the BBC Trust had insisted Canvas should have a separate ownership structure to Freeview, which is controlled by BBC, BSkyB, Channel 4, ITV and Arqiva. Unlike the Freeview+ personal video recorder and the new Freeview HD, Canvas would be represented by a distinct and separate logo.
“You will see a box that will talk about Freeview and it will have the Freeview logo and whatever is the Canvas branding will also be on that box. Assuming the trademark licence relationship is all sorted, and Canvas gets approved, those logos would sit and complement one another so that consumers understand that Freeview is standing for great free channels through the aerial and Canvas will be explaining what Canvas stands for,” said Howling. “As Canvas becomes an organization I would expect us to work with them just as we have worked with other organizations whether that’s been BT Vision or Top Up TV around making sure the logos sit together and work for consumers.”
Free-to-air satellite platform Freesat, which has separate ownership from its terrestrial counterpart, is currently running a version of the iPlayer in beta with plans to also add the ITV Player to the platform. Although broadband connectivity will be featured on the new Freeview HD receivers its availability will not be a part of the marketing proposition.
The first Freeview HD receivers are expected to go on sale in the next few days, enabling consumers in London and the North West to receive transmissions from BBC HD and ITV1 HD that have been on-air since last December. Channel 4 and the Welsh S4C will be added later in the year and it is expected they will be joined by Five following licence approval by Ofcom. Coverage is expected to build so that half of the UK will be able to receive HD broadcasts via Freeview in time for the World Cup.
Freeview is currently available in more than 18 million UK homes, including 10 million where it is on the primary TV display. 2.1 million homes have Freeview+.