Opinion: Last week’s Voice and Vision was all about the rise of Prime Video against its old rival Netflix, this week’s column follows the same theme, but with the title role for Freeview Play.
This week Freeview Play announced a new feature in Explore Freeview Play TV, which offers recommendations and a dedicated area for set of boxes to help find content with such ease.
Why is this important? Well, the feature itself is not the topic but a roundabout way of discussing what Freeview is currently up to. An attractive alternative to paid subscription services, which have a massive amount of content.
Now we can get into an ideological debate about whether the likes of iPlayer and All 4 are “technically” free given how they are funded, but regardless it’s a less expensive alternative given the wealth of content. Young people have been reported to have cut back on streaming services this year, with research from Kantar finding 1.66 million quits, with the under-24 age group likely to be left behind.
The cost-of-living crisis is finding us all looking for ways to spend money without being overwhelmed, which has led to streaming services being considered luxuries. Those who appear to be the winners are the “free” streaming services, such as iPlayer, All 4, and the social media service TikTok that are attracting viewers instead.
And the extra attention is likely to make people aware of the quality that exists in UK catch-up/on-demand services, which is not a completely hidden secret. All 4 has a really good and varied library with some great animated shows – Cowboy Bebop, The Venture Bros. , Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law – while they had the first two seasons of the Harley Quinn show. The iPlayer 4K library isn’t anywhere near as good as you’ll find on Prime Video, Apple TV+, or Netflix, but it’s grown this year and has some hardcore related series and old Hollywood classics to enjoy.
I guess we can all grumble about the ITV Hub interface and general quality, but I watched Our House on a whim and actually found it quite interesting on that late night, schlocky TV series mood where the quality isn’t the best, but it is very entertaining. Then there’s programming where I don’t dare walk the likes of Love Island and Naked Attraction.
Suffice to say, there is a lot to watch on these services with over 40,000 hours of content available. It’s not as if Freeview Play wasn’t really successful beforehand, but a younger audience appears to be turning to these services more, as the likes of Netflix decline, and iPlayer and All 4 seem to be on the rise. And as privatization concerns persist around the BBC and Channel 4, that could be a good thing.
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Published Audio and Vision: Netflix’s Loss Is Freeview’s Gain debuted in Trusted Reviews.