Everyone TV, the company responsible for running the Freeview and Freesat platforms, is asking for feedback on how a ‘next generation’ Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) for internet delivered (IP) channels should work.
The expectation is that internet delivered channels will, for many households, eventually replace traditional satellite and aerial broadcast channels.
Pay TV firms including BT, Sky and Virgin Media already offer products which stream all their channels to viewers while devices such as Amazon’s Fire TV sticks offer a selection of channels, including those from ITV and Channel 5, via a traditional EPG alongside catch-up and subscription apps.
In addition several Smart TV makers, including Samsung and Hisense, offer internet channels in addition to those delivered over satellite and aerial. While on many brands of TV these IP channels are segregated from the Freeview line-up, Samsung lists both types of channels on a single guide.
Advantages of streaming channels to users include a lower risk of adverse weather affecting reception and the avoidance of capacity limits such as those on the Freeview platform which limit the availability of High Definition channels.
While a growing number of viewers bypass the EPG entirely in favour of apps, Everyone TV says it believes “that there will remain an important role for linear scheduled TV channels in an IP-delivered TV world, and we therefore need to think about how an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) might look,” as well as setting out the rules governing the allocation of channel numbers on next generation devices.
The organisation says its proposals could, in future, allow channels delivered via Freeview to switch to IP delivery while retaining the same channel number.
Setting out two examples of this feature, it says:
“This could mean, for example, that if a channel is available via DTT and IP and for some reason the DTT signal quality weakens or fails, then the platform would automatically switch to IP delivery if that provided better-quality pictures. And it could mean that if at some point in the future a TV channel ceases to be delivered via DTT and becomes available only via IP, this transition would happen behind the scenes and the user of a next-generation platform may not even notice the transition.”
The ultimate ambition is to create an EPG which allows “viewers to just watch TV without having to worry about how their channels are delivered.”
Anyone interested in TV, including viewers, broadcasters and equipment manufacturers, is being invited to comment on Everyone TV’s plans.