What is Freely? Everything you need to know about the UK's new free TV service

What is Freely?
What is Freely? -Credit:(Image: FREELY)

UK television enthusiasts now have a fresh, cost-free alternative to Sky TV. The new streaming service, Freely, has just launched nationwide, offering comprehensive access to live and on-demand content without the need for an aerial.

Developed by Everyone TV, the same team behind popular services such as Freeview and Freesat, Freely boasts a wealth of experience in content distribution. The service is supported by all major UK terrestrial broadcasters, including BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, with all these content providers available on Freely from its inception.

With the service now integrated into a range of new televisions, it's set to compete directly with Sky's premium Glass TV - another all-in-one device that uses broadband to access live programming. If Freely piques your interest, here's everything you need to know about this latest service, including what's being shown, how to watch, and whether it truly rivals Sky, reports the Express.


What is Freely?

Freely is a novel TV service that streams to homes rather than transmitting via traditional over-the-air signals received through aerials. To tune in to live entertainment, sports, and movies, users simply need to connect their TVs to their Wi-Fi. This makes it an ideal solution for those living in flats or wishing to watch live content in parts of their home without aerial access.

In addition to displaying current programming, Freely also provides access to a wealth of on-demand content, with top recommendations appearing on the home screen. A comprehensive 7-day guide is available, along with a MiniGuide that pops up to provide quick access to channels and display upcoming programmes.

Another appealing feature is the ability to pause live television for up to 15 minutes - ideal if you're interrupted by a neighbour. When you're ready to resume viewing, simply press the play button.

Additional features include a search function to locate favourite shows, as well as full access to platforms such as BBC iPlayer and ITVX within the Freely app. The user interface is straightforward and easy to navigate, allowing you to quickly find other episodes of your favourite shows with a few clicks on the remote.

What distinguishes Freely from standard streaming apps is its functionality, which is akin to a TV connected to an aerial. This means you can effortlessly switch between live TV channels without having to open different applications - a feature previously unavailable over a broadband connection.

How much does Freely cost?

As the name implies, Freely is completely free to watch. This means that as long as you have a TV Licence, there are no additional subscriptions or monthly fees to worry about.

The only requirement for Freely is a fully compatible TV. Once you've got the right telly, there's no additional cost - however, at present, there are no Freely TVs available for purchase, and pricing details have yet to be confirmed.

So, what channels can you tune into on Freely?

At its launch, the selection is somewhat limited. Freely has announced that around 30 channels including BBC 1, ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5, Film4, 5US, CBBC and CBeebies are currently available for streaming, with more set to be added in the future.

It's anticipated that UKTV will soon launch its services, adding popular channels like Dave, W, Gold and Yesterday to the Freely planner. Stay tuned for updates.

What kind of broadband speed do you need for Freely?

According to Freely, anyone with a standard broadband connection should be able to stream TV. The company suggests that a speed of 10Mbps should suffice.

Given that the average UK home broadband speed is around 70Mbps, most households shouldn't encounter any problems using Freely. One reason why this platform can operate with slower broadband speeds is that, unlike Netflix and Disney+, it doesn't offer Ultra HD 4K streams.

Viewers can only watch content in Standard Definition or High Definition formats, which require less bandwidth for streaming.

Which TVs are compatible with Freely?

Freely, the new streaming service, will not be available on existing televisions. Instead, it will come pre-installed on a range of new TVs set to hit the market soon.

Hisense is one of the first manufacturers to confirm that its future models will be Freely-ready, meaning the app will be fully integrated and there will be no need for additional set-top boxes or dongles. Other manufacturers, including Toshiba, JVC, and Bush, are expected to follow suit.

We'll keep you updated on which TV models will include Freely. As more TVs become available in the UK, we'll update this article with pricing information. It's been confirmed that all major high-street retailers in the UK will stock Freely-equipped screens in the future.

Can Freely be installed on current equipment?

Unfortunately, Freely won't be available on current or older TVs. This means if you want to use this new service, you'll need to purchase a new television.

There are currently no plans to launch it on devices such as Fire TV Sticks, Apple TV, phones, or tablets.

Does Freely really rival Sky Glass?

Freely bears a strong resemblance to Sky Glass, with both platforms being built directly into the TV. As previously mentioned, this eliminates the need for separate devices to access live and on-demand shows.

Both Freely and Sky Glass offer immediate access to a plethora of content via a broadband connection, complete with a TV guide and recommendations for popular viewing. However, Sky Glass stands out due to its additional features.

These include personalised recommendations for each family member, meaning parents and children will receive different suggestions. Sky Glass also boasts a Playlists function, allowing users to save content for later viewing. This operates similarly to a recording function, but utilises cloud storage instead of a physical hard drive.

Unlike Freely, Sky Glass supports voice search and integrates content from other platforms such as Netflix and Disney+. The final distinction lies in the volume of available content.

Sky Glass offers hundreds of live channels, compared to the approximately 30 that Freely will have at launch.

Despite these differences, Freely operates simply and is akin to regular terrestrial TV.

One point to note about Freely is the delay in receiving live broadcasts, which can be up to 30 seconds longer than via a standard aerial. While this isn't an issue for regular television viewing, it can prove frustrating during live sports events, as you may hear about a goal being scored from friends before you've seen it happen on screen.

Sky Glass users are also grappling with this issue, although Sky is working on reducing the lag to approximately eight seconds in the future.

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