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UPD Connect TV Bring 45 New Channels via Broadband to UK Freeview HD Boxes

Monday, February 27th, 2012 (1:37 pm) - Score 875

A new service called Connect TV has launched today that makes use of your existing broadband ISP connection to add internet delivered video/TV content ( IPTV ) to all “compliantFreeview devices, which are apparently available in up to 5.5 million UK households (others are likely to require a newer set-top-box or software upgrade).

The service, which should be available through your existing TV menu or Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), offers a mix live TV streaming (45 channels in all) and on-demand content. The launch line-up includes a mix of sports, foreign language and news channels (i.e. more stuff that you probably won’t watch).

Meanwhile the platform itself appears to use Slipstream’s MHEG-IC (Interaction Channel) technology, which is catered for by the Freeview HD platform (D Book 6.2.1), as a basis for its service. Several new services are due to use this (some people already get BBC iPlayer on their TV by using it) and, so far as we understand, all manufacturers have been asked to update their kit (sadly many probably won’t, so that they can sell you something newer instead).

Phil Walder, Managing Director of Connect TV, explained:

We are able to give consumers a wealth of extra free and paid content without forcing them to leave the familiar surroundings of their main TV screen and Freeview menu or buy new a TV service or device.

Through the Connect TV platform, broadcasters, content owners and consumer brands, can reach millions of Freeview viewers at low cost in a simple, powerful way. The economics of our delivery means that niche channels can be on the same menu as the UK’s most watched TV channels.”

Unfortunately Connect TV’s website (www.connect-tv.tv) was, at the time of writing, still refusing to load and kept demanding a password. As a result we can’t easily examine the detail of this announcement or test whether it really does unite “Freeview and TV over broadband in an exciting and intuitive way“.

Similarly a quick check of our own Freeview equipped TV’s, which are both late-2010 models, appeared to suggest that the service wasn’t available.. yet. Something did pop up when we used the Freeview USB stick in our laptop but we’ll need to examine that a little closer first.

UPDATE 28th Feb 2012

The CTV site is now working and we’ve thus been able to get a little more detail. Firstly the services require the latest version of the Freeview HD specification which is available on all devices released after April 2011. As expected many people will not have that yet.

At present all of the new content is being broadcast in Standard Definition (SD) and not High Definition (HD), although an HD service is being tested. The service requires a connection speed of around 1.5Mbps and would eat up roughly 550MB (MegaBytes) after an hour of usage. So make sure your broadband package can cope and switch the streaming off when you’re not using it.

Some of the channels are pay-TV and you can subscribe to those via the website of Connect TV’s individual channel content partners. Payment methods include PayPal, WorlPay and PayWizard.

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