Freeview and Freesat are utterly merging, however what does that imply on your TV?

Freeview and Freesat are now one and the same company. Late last week, the two brands completed their long-awaited merger. For those who don’t want to spend a small fortune to enjoy Sky Q, Netflix, Disney + and Amazon Prime Video at home … Freeview and Freesat have a plethora of shows and movies to watch for free. If you have any of these services, the merger brings some good news.

Freeview parent company Digital UK, a joint venture between BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and broadcaster Arqiva – until it left the project last year – has now confirmed that it will take over Freesat on July 8, 2021. Freesat had two shareholders, BBC and ITV, which meant the merger had to be approved by the relevant authorities and regulators.

The process of merging the two companies will take several months, the brands confirmed.

It’s unclear what exactly the merger will mean for viewers. However, Digital UK has claimed that bringing both brands under one roof means that both will “benefit from a leaner approach to technological innovation and product development”.

Therefore, we expect new features to be rolled out on Freeview and Freesat devices at the same time. Crossing your fingers, it should also mean that upcoming content deals will apply to both set-top boxes – so Freesat and Freeview viewers can enjoy the same box sets and channels.

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We also hope that innovations already available on one of the Digital UK services but not on another can now be shared – bringing these two free options on a level for the first time.

For those who don’t know, Freesat offers access to a number of the same channels as Freeview, but relies on a satellite dish to connect viewers to their favorite shows. So if you’ve decided to leave Sky Q but still have a bowl strapped to your roof and aren’t in the mood for a DIY weekend – you can plug in a Freesat-compatible set-top box to access free-to-air channels with your existing receiver. This is a different approach to Freeview that uses your antenna.

Freesat has some advantages over Freeview, most notably that the service takes advantage of the additional capacity of satellite transmission to offer a choice of 24 high definition channels including those from BBC, ITV, Channel 5, Discovery Networks, France 24, Paramount Network , Bloomberg, RT UK and TRT World.

However, Freeview Play – which requires an internet connection to bring catch-up services to the TV Guide – contains more content than Freesat. If you are using a Freeview Play TV or set-top box, you can “travel back in time” by scrolling to the left in the TV guide and jump to previously broadcast programs that are still available from BBC iPlayer, My5, ITV Hub, All4 and others are available.

In total, content is now being accessed by 10 on-demand catch-up services, following the introduction of POP Player at the end of last year. Even if a lot of this is also possible with Freesat, the service does not currently include shows from All4.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK, said: “I am very excited to lead the new unit and very much look forward to leading the development of free-to-view TV in the UK for the years to come. Freeview and Freesat are both great success stories for the UK television industry and society at large, enabling the public policy objectives that underpin public service broadcasting and providing free access to high quality television for all. “

The news comes as Digital UK signed a deal with Amazon to bring Freeview Play to its Fire TV Edition televisions. These are TVs that run entirely on the Fire TV operating system, which can also be found on the best-selling Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube set-top boxes.

The Freeview Play app gives access to 85 live broadcast channels and content from 10 on-demand players, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK, Horror Bites, STV Player and BBC Sounds .

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