Mountain View, California — In a surprising move to expand its online video services into the living room, Google has signed a deal with free-to-air UK satellite TV service Freesat to add a dedicated YouTube app for customers, ensuring that they will be able to access millions of videos without the need for an additional device, as it continues to position itself as a platform for premium, broadcast-quality content.
Going forward with its ambitious plan, the Google-owned video-sharing service will introduce its latest iteration of YouTube on Freesat in March, with built in HTML 5, designed to provide an Optimized: viewing experience via Freesat’s set-top box.
Freesat — a joint-venture between UK broadcasters ITV and the BBC — already delivers more than 60 channels, with Google’s Web-connected YouTube channel, via an app, on air alongside much more traditional TV sources by the end of March. Once operational, viewers will be able to access the subscription free service on YouTube videos in the same way they do for BBC’s iPlayer service and other catch-up TV programming.
As a matter of fact, YouTube, the darling of video enthusiasts, which touts more than 800 million viewers each month, is already available to watch on internet-connected TV sets using Apple’s set-top box or through a smart TV, such as Google TV. But the launch on Freesat will take it to a wider audience.
Moreover, YouTube will launch as a new app via Freesat’s new £279 premium internet-connected TV box, Freetime, and allow viewers to sift the site for clips using only their smartphone. The expansion represents YouTube’s most mainstream move yet onto the small screen in the UK.
Peter Sherman, product marketing manager for YouTube, said: “We are excited to be working with Freesat so that Freesat users can now access YouTube from the platform. Our creator community is developing quality content that will delight and inspire viewers and we are pleased to be able to bring it to people in new ways.”
Emma Scott, Freesat’s managing director said the company is “thrilled” to bring YouTube to the service. “They [YouTube] join Freesat at a time of rapid growth for our business and will offer our viewers an exclusive, first view of their latest version — previously unseen on free to air TV in the UK she said.”
However, YouTube is already available on Virgin Media’s TiVo service and various smart TVs but this deal marks the first time it has been offered officially on a subscription-free UK TV platform.
Nevertheless, it is an appealing addition for owners of a Freesat set-top box, who will gain more content at no extra cost. For Google, it will see more people in the UK access it video service, likely increasing ad views as a result.