The Connect TV service appears to have now launched on the Freeview platform, offering an extra 45 channels of TV.
Connect TV has had a number of placeholder channels active between channels 110 and 116 for a while, and some of the services switched on February. It seems that the initial offering has been finalised, and some of the initial launch channels are now live. Available at the moment:
- Channel 110 – Vision TV Network: A portal for a number of international TV channels (see below)
- Channel 111 – CCTV: China Central Television
- Channel 112 – Sports Tonight Live
- Channel 116 – Racing UK: Subscription horseracing service
There are also placeholders on Freeview for Connect 1, Connect 2 and Connect 3, and channels 113, 114 and 115 – presumably to be used for more of the planned 45 channels.
The Vision TV network on Freeview channel appears to be aimed at expats looking to catch up with TV from home. The number of channels on this service is set to expand, and currently offers Greek, Polish, Turkish and French TV channels.
At the time of writing the services on the Vision TV Network are: Hellenic TV (£11 a month), Polska Plus TV (£8.99 a month), TeleTurk (£6.99 a month) and TeleFrance (£4.99 a month)
How to watch Connect TV
The Connect TV service uses the Internet to get these new channels, and effectively, the channels you see on Freeview are used by your Freeview receiver to open a connection to the Internet to let you access the channel.
This means that you will need a Broadband Internet connection to watch these channels on your TV, and you’ll also need a compatible Internet-enabled TV or set-top box. The Connect TV service refers to needing “Freeview HD”, but in fact what it means is an Internet-enabled Freeview box. As the Freeview HD standard mandates an Internet connection, it’s assumed all Freeview HD hardware can access the Internet.
At the moment, we understand that it’s only Sony and Panasonic Freeview HD TV sets, plus three TVonics boxes that can access the new channels offered by Connect TV. There’s a list of compatible hardware here: visiontvnetwork.co.uk/home/devices.
We’ve seen similar Freeview + Internet TV offerings in the past, most recently Fetch TV (which went into administration in January), and services such as BT Vision, Virgin and Sky’s new Sky Anytime+ service all offer additional content via an Internet connection. That’s in addition to services such as Apple TV, Netflix and Lovefilm, which offer on-demand TV and movies.
We’re all patiently waiting for the much-delayed YouView service, which will also combine live Freeview TV with a mix of catchup TV and on-demand content from the Internet. 2012 is going to be an interesting, and busy, year for online TV services…