Freeview turns 10: Ten ways it changed the living room forever
Today is a milestone in living room tech – and it’s nothing to do with Windows 8, the iPad mini or any other bit of kit launched in the last week. Nope, today is Freeview TV’s tenth birthday. The free to air standard didn’t just change terrestrial TV, it completely changed how we use our TVs, and what we expect from them. Here are ten ways it did just that.
It resurrected millions of defunct set top boxes
Remember ONdigital? The main rival to Sky as TV began to go digital back in the late 90s, it stopped operation in 2002. But Freeview picked up where it left off, and better still, Freeview worked on ONdigital boxes, giving them a new lease of life.
It taught us to expect more choice
Before Freeview, we’d grown use to the bog standard five free to air channels. But the scores of channels available on Freeview taught us that we should expect more choice in what to watch – and that’s only ever a good thing. http://gadgetshow.channel5.com/gadget-show/videos/jon-test/freeviewhd
It binned the box
Freeview didn’t just bring everyone more channels, it did it without the box too. When TVs with Freeview tuners built in began to ship, it meant you could get access to all of those channels without the fiddle of power adapters and SCART leads. Digital TV built in was a selling point no rivals could match.
It made rolling news channels the norm
Sky News and BBC News 24 are both decades old, but for many people, rolling news channels were something you only saw in foreign hotel rooms on holiday. Freeview brought up to the minute news around the clock to everyone in the country, at no extra charge.
It brought digital radio into the home
Digital radio is a wonderful thing, giving you better sound and much more choice than fiddly FM and AM radio, but even today, DAB radios are still expensive. But Freeview gave us access to all of those channels for free, right through your TV’s booming speakers.
It made the red button famous
Sky may have pioneered the red button and its interactive features, but Freeview made it free. Being able to push a button to watch a different live feed of a sporting event was a revelation, and changed how we watch sporting events today.
It re-invigorated UK TV
Freeview didn’t just give us more choice, it helped UK TV production blossom. With more channels competing, we’ve seen cult series survie by switching channel, or even revived – look at how Dave has brought back Red Dwarf from the dead.
It brought us the modern day PVR
Nowadays we take it for granted that we can store shows just by hitting the record button on a programme in the EPG. We’ve got Freeview+ set top boxes to thank for that.
It brought HD to the masses
While Sky and Virgin will bring you HD channels by satellite or cable, Freeview HD brought five free to air HD channels to the public when it launched in 2010. You don’t even need to change your aerial, or the cable at the back of your telly to get it.
It put smart TV services in the TV
Freeview HD boxes don’t just do HD live TV: they’re internet connected too. All you need to do is plug one into your home network and presto, you’ve got catch-up and film streaming services ready to go. For many, it’ll be the first introduction to on-demand telly actually on a big screen, rather than viewed hunched over a laptop.