Freesat looks for ‘reappraisal’ of free TV

Freesat is set to launch a multi-million pound marketing campaign to push its new internet connected TV service that puts it head to head with YouView.

Free Sat Free Time

The free to air digital satellite TV provider is launching new Freesat+ set top boxes that include a service called <free time>, which offers a backwards EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) with editorial recommendations and gives viewers easy access to on demand services such as iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5.

The boxes, initially priced at £279, will also launch additional movie and music streaming services, which could include Netflix or Spotify, in the future.

Will Abbott, Freesat’s marketing and communications director, says the company is confident that the next generation Freesat+ boxes will “lay the foundations for growth” for the entire Freesat business and help consumer “reappraise” how good a free service can be. The company claims it has sold 2.6 million boxes since it launched 4 years ago.

A “phased” multiplatform campaign, using the strapline “Satellite TV, so good you won’t believe it’s free” will launch from today (4 September). VCCP has created the campaign, while MPG Media Contacts is responsible for the media planning and buying.

Abbott says the campaign will use humour to clearly demonstrate the benefits of Freesat to people who own a satellite dish but do not want to pay costly monthly subscriptions. Initially the push will be targeted at early technology adopters, but this will broaden out to a wider audience as boxes become more widely available across retail, in John Lewis, Comet, Currys and other stores.

“[We hope the campaign] will drive real interest, excitement and advocacy…we’re making sure we really do the show rather than the tell because once you see the user interface, movements and transitions it really brings it to life,” Abbott adds.

Abbott says <free time> will also offer brands more ways to partner with Freesat as it is built using HTML 5 and open web standards, meaning they will soon be able to approach the company to have their content and broadcast related apps hosted on the platform.

Freesat will also be launching a companion app for smartphones and tablets later down the line, which users can operate as a remote control or to remote record. Abbott says there may be an opportunity for developers to provide additional social features within the apps.

“What’s important is to give the viewer what they really want – they don’t want screens and screens of apps and widgets. The whole world of social enhancements live on the second screen,” Abbott says.

The launch of Freesat’s new internet connected service comes just weeks after the launch of YouView, which also offers a library of catch up programmes from major broadcasters, a backwards EPG and will soon also include companion apps.

YouView is backed by the BBC, ITV, BT, TalkTalk, Arqiva, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Freesat is jointly owned by ITV and the BBC.

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