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New Freeview app lets you watch live TV on the go

The iOS and Android app for mobile phones and tablets combines catch-up and live TV services from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4

A new Freeview mobile app will give you access to a massive range of live and on-demand TV streams on the go. 

Freeview tuners, which can be found in just about every TV released within the past three years, give you access to more than 100 channels once you plug in an aerial. Soon these channels will be available to watch live through a mobile phone or tablet, marking the first time anyone will be able to watch Freeview channels without an aerial.

The app will come first to iOS devices in January 2019, with an Android rollout following in early 2019.

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What can I watch on Freeview and how much will it cost?

Users will be able to watch BBC channels, ITV and Channel 4 on the go using data or wi-fi. The app will also act as a hub for catch-up services, including iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, and UKTV Play, and recommend shows to you.

It will be completely free to download, with no subscription fee, although you will still need a TV licence to access BBC channels and iPlayer.

Freeview hopes that the new app, created in collaboration with Digital UK, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva, will become the go-to app for watching UK TV when you’re out and about.

Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK, said: ‘In an increasingly fragmented media landscape, the new Freeview mobile app is an excellent example of broadcaster and industry collaboration in action. Today’s viewers value having access to their favourite shows when and where they want.’

How does the Freeview app work?

When you download the app you’ll also be prompted to download the individual catch-up apps from the different channels. If you then try to watch EastEnders, you’ll be routed through to the iPlayer app.

You will also need a TV licence to watch live broadcasts, and since you’re using the iPlayer app for BBC catch-up you will need one anyway.

 

Will you be able to watch TV abroad?

Since the Freeview app relies on separate catch-up apps to work, it’s likely that the usual restrictions on watching UK TV abroad will apply.

It’s unlikely that the live TV broadcasts will work overseas, but any of the catch-up apps that allow you to download shows will work abroad as long as you download whatever you want to watch before you go.

You can use our guide to watching TV abroad to see the best ways to stay caught up with your favourite shows overseas.


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Will casting from phone to TV help those with poor signal?

Anyone who’s had aerial woes will understand how frustrating it is when the signal drops out and so too does your picture. Casting is where the picture from your phone appears on your TV screen. So if you have strong internet but weak aerial reception, then this could feasibly get you a more reliable picture.

Unfortunately, the launch version of the app won’t have a casting feature, but it may be something that’s added in the future.

If you’re struggling to get a reliable signal, try on our top-rated aerials.

How much data do I need to stream live TV?

You can usually expect to use over 500MB of data streaming an hour of TV in standard definition; double that for HD. For this reason it won’t suit those who have limited data contracts with low allowances. If you’re planning on getting good use out of the new Freeview app, then you may be better off with an unlimited data package.

Find out who we rate as the best and worst UK mobile providers if you’re shopping around for a new deal. Our guide to haggling with your mobile provider could land you more data for no extra cost, and you can also learn more about how to keep track of your mobile data and minutes.

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