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iPlayer, 4OD and ITV catch-up combine in Freeview Connect

BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD are reported to have banded together as Freeview Connect, which could cut YouView out of the loop.

BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD are banding together into one smart TV alliance to rule them all: Freeview Connect. Although it's not clear what form it'll take, the result could cut YouView out of the loop.

The Guardian reports that BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have formed a new alliance to get their catch-up TV services on any and all smart TVs. That could mean you won't need a YouView set-top box to watch the services in one place on your smart TV.

The alliance comes amid a growing dissatisfaction with broadband providers BT and TalkTalk's use of YouView -- a joint investment between the broadcasters and ISPs -- to line their pockets.

A spokesperson for industry body Digital UK says it is "exploring what a connected TV proposition, including catch-up, might look like alongside existing linear services to give viewers extra flexibility in how they watch television. However, discussions are on-going with our shareholders as to exactly what this proposition will comprise and how it could be most effectively delivered."

The three broadcasters are reported to be motivated by what The Guardian describes as BT and TalkTalk's "hijacking" of YouView. YouView, which puts Freeview TV and online and catch-up services in one set-top box, was designed to be a standard for such services, and boxes can be bought by anyone. But they ain't cheap, and YouView's growth as a service is almost entirely due to boxes given away free by BT and TalkTalk.

Now it seems the broadcasters have grown tired of their ISP partners using their joint investment to recruit new customers: The Guardian reports the BBC will drastically cut its backing for YouView in April.

Although it currently involves free-to-air broadcasters, the group hasn't ruled out getting pay-TV outfits such as Sky involved too. 

Update: This article originally stated that Freeview Connect would be a smart TV app, but Digital UK has contacted CNET to clarify that there are no plans for an app at this time.