Freeview EPG arrives, but…

Freeview has announced details of its long-awaited Electronic Program Guide (EPG) which comes with lots of sexy features that have previously only been available to Pay TV viewers.

The new Guide will begin transmission today and is available for use in hardware that carries a “Freeview EPG” branding.

The Guide offers on-screen programming and recording information and allows viewers to see a grid of Free to Air Networks in one easy snapshot, similar to the styles used in Pay Television. It includes the ability to have video streaming and text capability, enabling viewers to continue to watch TV whilst checking out upcoming TV shows. It also features a Series Link.

The EPG also includes:
* Seven day program guide
* CRID system (Content Reference Indicator) – allowing intuitive recording of shows (with PVRs)
* Program reminder functionality
* Detailed program information
* Parental Lock system
* One touch recording (with PVRs)
* Watch and record different channels at the same time (with twin tuner PVRs)
* Pause and rewind live TV (with PVRs)
* Record a series using ‘series link’ functionality (with PVRs)
* Ethernet connection
* Common “buttons” for remote controls from each manufacturer.

Recording information will be synced with actual showtimes, so that those viewers who have recording hardware won’t suffer at the hands of late start times (ironically, imagery of the Guide in press material includes Hey Hey It’s Saturday, which rarely finishes on schedule).

Freeview CEO Robin Parkes said: “The new Freeview EPG will give viewers broad functionality that has been developed in response to consumer demand for more program information, easier navigation and improved recording capability.

“The Freeview EPG will provide a consolidated platform for the consumer when navigating Freeview channels, and will also provide consistency of experience across multiple digital TVs in the home, so that the consumer only has to learn the navigation once.”

However, the EPG is arriving much later than its promised May 2009 delivery date and is not backwards-compatible. It is only available with new hardware that carries a “Freeview EPG” logo, which have previously been unavailable to consumers.

This contradicts a statement by Freeview in November 2008:

To receive all 15 Freeview channels, along with the Freeview EPG, households will be able to purchase digital set-top boxes to work with their existing analogue television sets. These boxes will be badged with the Freeview logo and available in stores next year.

Viewers who purchased Freeview branded logos but are now unable to receive the new EPG have every right to be angry.

Current EPGs supplied existing STBs, PVRs or digital TVs will still continue.

Compatible hardware is on sale from July with the new “Freeview EPG” logo.

The EPG will officially launch to consumers in September with a new TV commercial.

More info: www.freeview.com.au/epg

40 Comments:

  1. Seems very similar to what the Sony PlayTV interface looks like.
    (albeit not using the coloured buttons)

    Sony Interface and speed of changing channels much better than the native tuner on my Pio 508XDA

  2. So I bought an stb with a Freeview sticker in January, and it won’t work with the new EPG? Seriously now? I repeat what “Kuttsywood” said: “Instead of “more for free” it’s “more money””

  3. @rob
    I’m actually quite happy with my set up. ( i could do with a few inches more, but who couldn’t hahaha jokes) And i understand and agree with you totally. It’s just an annoying tactic done by most companies.

  4. This would be a really good idea, if, channels didn’t change their timetables like an hour before the program starts, now I don’t mean 9/11 or death of Michael Jackson or something like that, but, I’ve seen ER promos at 8:30, even 8:45, then at 9:30, when its due to come on, I see a CSI NY repeat…

    Also, if shows actually finished on time. It’s the Australian unscripted shows that are the worst, I mean in the USA, if a show finishes 2 minutes late, the guys at Nielsen Co. start producing calculus and regression analysis data and smashing their keyboards trying to determine the viewership for programs, here, MasterChef and Dancing with the Stars finish up to 20 minutes late, I mean, seriously, do you really need an ad break, dramatic music, and a voice over going “before the break, on ____” to determine that 8 > 7?

    If the government can somehow clamp down on these laws, then I believe that any system you implement would work superbly, otherwise the entire EPG is about as useless as Justin Biebers autobiography.

  5. @chk chk IceTV supplies its own independent EPG and is in no way affiliated with the Freeview consortium.

    If I was one of the many 10’s of thousands of Aussies that were convinced to go out and get a Freeview endorsed box (phase 1) last year and saw this latest announcement, I would be contacting the ACCC. From memory, there was nothing said about their EPG being a separate product and that it was in fact included with any product bearing the Freeview logo;

    “….a Freeview branded Digital Video Recorder will allow viewers to use the electronic program guide to record their favourite programs and watch them whenever they like.” (Freeview Press Release 24/11/2008)

    “To receive all 15 Freeview channels, along with the Freeview EPG, households will be able to purchase digital set-top boxes to work with their existing analogue
    television sets. These boxes will be badged with the Freeview logo and available in stores next year.” (Freeview Press Release 24/11/2008)

    Nothing about a box with a “Freeview EPG” logo being needed.

    Freeview would have known all too well that the ‘phase 1’ Freeview boxes were never going to be capable of displaying their new look Freeview EPG and they should be held accountable.

  6. @Bogan Pride, – do you think everything has to be backwards compatible?

    If you afford to spend hundred or thousands on electrical you should do so with your eyes wide open and relaise that FW EPG was not available at the time and “a little” reserach would have suggested that equipment couldn’t even accomnmodate it. Freeview are no saints in this matter but if you or others rely on advertising for an informed opinion then you get what you deserve as harsh as that sounds.

  7. so glad that I was happy enough with my panasonic EPG that I didn’t bother spending the extra hundred bucks just for a freeview logo that is totally useless. consumers were promised that if they bought something with the freeview logo that it would be all they needed for future changes and now they don’t even get the EPG which was the only supposed benefit of buying freeview branded products. depending on what sales pitches were given to individual consumers they could certainly have rights under the trade practices act, if they asked the right questions and were assured about this EPG specifically then the product does not meet its description and is not fit for the purpose for which it was purchased. Not that it is the sales people’s fault, they just repeated what they were told and will now be left to deal with the disgruntled customers. I would be absolutely fuming if I had fallen for the freeview lie.

  8. Hope people who bought into the Freeview hardware without doing some research learn a lesson from this. Smart people new that the hardware would be crippled and dated wihout adding any real value over existing free EPGs and “open” hardware. The proof has now been delivered.

  9. Digital tv is going to be like mobile phone cameras. They have had the technology to put mega pixel cameras in phones quite easily now for years.
    But what they do is. Just make a little better camera each release. so they can say. “look this phone has 50 mega pixel cameras ooo hhaaa.”So everyone runs out and buys it. Not even a year later, they release one with 60 megapixel. And all the tech heads are ooo awwww. And run out and up their phones. ( this isn’t just cameras, it;s just an example.) They do it with a lot of features. And now hdtv’s are going the same way. Wait till a lot of people have brought one. Wait a year or two. Then say, “hey we have this great new feature. The only trouble is you have to buy a new hdtv.” Yeah right p**s off.

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