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Freeview to fight YouView with Freeview Play online catchup service

Freeview Play, launching later this year, blends live TV with on-demand services, much like YouView and Now TV.

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Freeview is taking the fight to YouView. Freeview

Freeview is going toe-to-toe with the likes of YouView with a new online service called Freeview Play that will combine live TV with on-demand programming delivered over the Internet.

A free-to-receive terrestrial TV service that launched as a joint venture between the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Arqiva and Sky, Freeview has been providing UK residents with a selection of free channels for over a decade. Now however, it's plotting Freeview Play, a connected TV service that will debut later this year.

The new service merges live channels with on-demand shows in the same interface. YouView launched a service very much like this back in 2012, with a listings guide that lets you scroll backwards through time to play shows that have already been broadcast, while Sky's Now TV service and Virgin Media's TiVo box also blend live and on-demand viewing.

Freeview Play will feature on-demand programming from the BBC's iPlayer, as well as ITV Player and 4oD (which will imminently be replaced by new service ). Although there are still plenty of details to be revealed, Freeview says the service will be available in a range of new TVs and set-top boxes.

"In the same way that we took the UK from analogue to digital," Guy North, Freeview's managing director said, "Freeview Play is the next step in that vision and it will put the viewer in control, without complexity, commitment or unnecessary cost."

Freeview Play will be arriving late to the party, with rival YouView already making headway with the addition of a Netflix app, and worming its way inside a slew of 2015 Sony TVs. As such, we'll be looking for Freeview Play to offer something unique when it launches later this year.