Freeview's blog

Rick Friesen, Chair of the board of Freeview, today announced the appointment of Sam Irvine as General Manager for Freeview.

“Sam has been Marketing Manager for Freeview since December, 2006. He has been an important part of Freeview’s successful development and his skills in the position made him the ideal candidate to take on the role of General Manager,” said Mr Friesen.
“The entire Freeview board expressed complete confidence in Sam and are convinced the organisation will continue its strong growth under his leadership” said Mr. Friesen.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr. Irvine said “I’m really looking forward to the prospect of embracing future technology and content so that Freeview can continue to offer consumers the best value for money possible.”

In just over two years, Freeview has launched both terrestrial High Definition and satellite free-to-air platforms for radio and television and has seen rapid acceptance of the service, with over 14% of New Zealand homes now receiving Freeview.

“Today, more than ever before, a digital, high quality, free television and radio service is what the public is looking for and Freeview provides exactly that,” concluded Mr Irvine.

More than 14% of homes in New Zealand now have Freeview, the free to air digital television and radio platform, according to figures released today. This equates to nearly 10,000 new homes a month (or 72,000 new viewers over the quarter) now enjoying the benefits of crystal clear free-to-air digital television.

The latest sales figures for the three months ending March, 2009, indicate that the total households now reached by Freeview is  226,141, or 14.1% of permanent households. This figure is made up of the Freeview satellite service which launched in May 2007 (155,482 or 9.7%) and the Freeview|HDTM service, which launched in April last year (70,659 or 4.4%).

“As we approach our second birthday, Freeview continues to connect with Kiwis right around the country. We are ahead of forecast and are tracking well towards more homes watching free-to-air digital television. We are looking forward to the prospect of working even more closely with all the relevant broadcasting stakeholders. Whether it’s the Government, Sky TV and Prime or our own consortium partners, we’re focused on making Freeview a world leading free-to-air digital broadcasting platform,” says Sam Irvine, Acting General Manager, Freeview.

MediaWorks TV (owners of TV3 and C4) launched its first Freeview exclusive channel – TV3+1 – on March 30, which is available on Freeview channel 8 on both Freeview satellite and Freeview|HD.

It provides Freeview viewers with the option of tuning into their favourite shows an hour after they have screened, a service that has proved incredibly popular in the UK and other markets around the world and which initial results show, is clearly connecting with Freeview viewers.

“We know from retailers around the country that the recession is clearly impacting Kiwis; we are staying at home more, looking at our home entertainment options and we are watching more TV. The latest take up figures suggest New Zealanders are looking to Freeview as a good value home entertainment option.  That’s because you get a free- to-air, digital quality TV experience with more channels to choose from than traditional free-to-air analogue television plus other digital only features” he adds.   



Steve Browning, General Manager of Freeview, has resigned his position effective Friday, 9 April to pursue new opportunities.  Mr. Browning led the launch of both the satellite and terrestrial Freeview platforms, taking New Zealand along the path to a fully digital television system.

Rick Friesen, Chairman of Freeview, paid tribute to the integral part Browning has played in the success and strength of the world class digital television platform that Freeview has swiftly become recognised as.

“This announcement is about celebrating our success to date and, more importantly, the exciting future that lies ahead of us. Steve presided over the launch and phenomenal growth of Freeview by ensuring it has become recognised as an internationally acclaimed free-to-air digital TV platform,” he says.

“Succession planning has always been a priority at Freeview so I am pleased to appoint Sam Irvine, Freeview’s current Marketing Manager as acting General Manager until a full review and permanent appointment is made. As part of the launch team, his marketing expertise in the digital arena is well proven and puts the leadership of Freeview in very capable hands,” he adds.

Steve Browning, GM of Freeview, today welcomed two major developments that have taken place in NZ Digital Television this week.

The first is the news yesterday that TVNZ 6 and TVNZ 7 are set to become available to all Sky TV viewers.

“Freeview has never been about exclusivity. We are New Zealand’s only open digital TV and radio platform, which means we do not require any channel to be Freeview exclusive.

We always expected TVNZ 6 and 7 to be made available on Sky. The appeal of Freeview is that once you have purchased a Freeview approved receiver all the channels are free.

Conversely, with Sky TV you are paying a monthly subscription to watch free-to-air digital channels.

“We believe that the added exposure for these channels will draw welcome attention to what viewers can get elsewhere for free and that’s good news for us,” he says.

“While the inclusion of TVNZ 6 and 7 on Sky TV and the absence of Prime on Freeview are not linked commercially, it remains difficult for New Zealanders’ to understand why a free-to-air channel – like Prime – is not on Freeview.

We clearly want this to happen as soon as possible,” he added.

The second development is the news that TVNZ has acquired a 33% stake in Hybrid Television Services (ANZ) Pty Ltd, the exclusive licensee of TiVo in Australia and New Zealand.

This will mean that TiVo will be locally available this year.

“From day one Freeview has encouraged as many digital receiver products into the market as possible.

By launching our MyFreeview|HDTM service in December last year we showed we wanted people to be able to easily record their favourite programmes with no monthly fees.

The TiVo media device will receive the Freeview|HDTM service and provide other services over broadband. This is an exciting development,” Mr Browning says.

Freeview, the free to air digital television and radio platform, today released the latest quarter of retail figures for digital receiver sales.

At the end of 2008, 198,938 receivers had been sold, with an additional 38,442 sold during the three months ending 31st December. This equates to an estimated 12.6% of New Zealand homes now enjoying free-to-air digital television via Freeview’s crystal clear satellite and HD terrestrial services. The Freeview|HDTM service, which launched in April 2008, is growing rapidly with 53,522 HD capable receivers sold including over 13,000 in December alone.

“The feedback we’re getting from retailers around the country is that Kiwis are increasingly attracted to the sort of priceless entertainment that Freeview provides, courtesy of a one-off cost and no monthly subscription,” says Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview.

“And we know from recent reports that New Zealanders spent more time than ever before watching television last year – an average of three hours and eight minutes a day. This is the highest level of television viewership achieved in New Zealand since records began and people clearly want to watch a quality digital picture. We are also benefiting from the high demand for TVs with Freeview|HD built-in, and the launch of the MyFreeview|HDTM service also contributed to the excellent December sales.

The Freeview|HDTM service now has eleven TV and three radio services, while the Freeview Satellite service features twelve TV and four radio services.

With less than four weeks until Christmas, Kiwis around the country are set to benefit from the availability of the first MyFreeview|HDTM approved Digital Television Recorder.

“We’re delighted to confirm that the first approved Digital Television Recorder (or DTR) that works with the MyFreeview|HDTM service will be available in leading appliance retailers from the 11th December,” says Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview.

The MyFreeview|HDTM DTR uses the Freeview eight-day electronic programme guide to select programmes or series to record. This first Freeview approved DTR from Zinwell contains two tuners which means you can simultaneously record from two channels while watching another programme from the hard-drive. It has capacity for up to 80 hours of High Definition (HD) or 240 hours of standard definition (SD) programmes.

MyFreeview|HDTM is the only digital television service with TVONE, TV2, and TV3 programmes available to record in HD with no subscription fees. It also enables the viewer to pause live TV, automatically book alternate recording times if you already have two bookings set, and even provides recommendations for other programmes you may also like to record.

Freeview also continues to deliver on the promise of more free TV and radio channels with the arrival of Base FM on Freeview|HDTM and Freeview Satellite channel 71 and the announcement of TV3+1 from MediaWorks (owners of TV3 and C4) on channel 8 from next March.

Consisting of a high-profile collective of DJs, Base FM has swiftly cemented a reputation for providing its listeners with a fresh and compelling contemporary music offering.

“We’re almost five years old now and our line-up consists of some of the best artists and producers in NZ music today, we broadcast 24 hours per day, seven days per week and according to Research International have one of the highest time-spend-listening rates in the market. Our availability on Freeview will only serve to strengthen our appeal by improving the Base FM reach, quality and proposition,” says Jasmin Ziedan, Station Manager, Base FM.

TV3+1 allows viewers to watch their favourite TV3 programmes one hour later, thereby avoiding those primetime schedule clashes.

“In the UK, tuning to the +1 channel averages 38% of the tuning to the main channel on the same platform and we would expect no difference in New Zealand,” comments Rick Friesen, MediaWorks Director of Special Projects.

“In overseas markets where similar services have been launched the viewer response has been very favourable, so we’re excited about what this will mean for the continued growth and popularity of the Freeview platform,” adds Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview.

Freeview, the free-to-air digital television and radio platform, continues its strong growth as the ever expanding channel and High Definition (HD) line-up attracts more New Zealanders.

At the end of September 160,496 receivers had been sold, with an additional 37,980 receivers added in the July to September quarter. This makes it the highest quarterly take-up since Freeview launched a mere 18 months ago in May 2007.

This translates to an estimated 10% of New Zealand homes now having access to Freeview, or 380,000 plus Kiwis. The Freeview|HD service, which launched in April this year, is growing rapidly with 27,319 HD capable receivers sold.

Steve Browning, General Manger, Freeview, says that Freeview is pleased to see how swiftly the consumer electronics industry has moved to produce Freeview receivers.

“We have seen a significant increase in the range of receivers and integrated digital televisions this quarter. It provides people around the country with a greater choice of equipment and a better retail price point which has helped us to drive strong levels of take-up.” he says.

Samsung is the latest manufacturer to announce its new television with Freeview|HD built in. This brings the number of TV manufacturers with integrated digital televisions to five,” he adds.

At the same time the channel line-up on Freeview continues to grow with the addition this week of ChineseTV8 to the Freeview|HD service. This service now has 11 TV and 2 radio services, while the Freeview satellite service has 12 TV and 3 radio services.

New Zealand viewers are set to benefit from the arrival of ChineseTV8 on Freeview|HDTM channel 28. The channel will launch in early October.

Chinese TV8’s engaging programme line-up includes news and current affairs from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, popular drama series, variety shows of diverse formats, documentaries with an Asian emphasis and a wide range of Asian focused `infotainment’.

Steve Browning, General Manager, Freeview says Chinese TV8 is an exciting addition to the current array of content available on Freeview|HDTM, which was launched in April 2008 and is available to 75% of New Zealand homes.

‘There are approximately 150,000 ethnic Chinese in New Zealand and almost 75% of those citizens live in the greater Auckland area. Given that ChineseTV8 content will be broadcast predominantly in Mandarin we think there will be a strong demand for it and we’re delighted to have it on our platform,” he says.

“And in the next couple of weeks we’re releasing our latest batch of quarterly figures which will reaffirm the fact that Kiwis (throughout the country) want access to free digital TV. More than 120,000 households (over 280,000 people) had already gained access by the end of June this year,” he adds.

Henry Ho, CEO of World TV Limited, which is responsible for ChineseTV8 and various other Asian media channels, is equally enthusiastic about the imminent arrival of the channel on Freeview|HDTM.

“We firmly believe that Freeview is the next generation platform for broadcasting in New Zealand and we’re partnering with them because it will help improve our reach, our quality and our proposition. It is a very exciting development for the Chinese community, for our business, and for all New Zealanders,” he says.

ChineseTV8 joins an ever increasing list of Freeview|HDTM channels which are available via digital terrestrial (via a UHF aerial) including TV ONE, TV2, TV3, C4, Maori Television, TVNZ6, TVNZ7, TVNZ Sports Extra, Parliament TV, tvCentral (Waikato/BOP only), Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert.

Freeview, the free-to-air digital television and radio platform, today announced the launch of the first suite of integrated digital TV’s, in conjunction with leading manufacturer Sony.

The arrival of the Sony BRAVIA V and W series marks a stunning start to the new line-up of products due to enter the market between now and Christmas 2008 that will have Freeview|HDTM built-in.

Along with integrated digital TV’s (iDTV’s), a number of new (stand-alone) digital receivers, including those with recording capability, are set to arrive in 2008.

In addition to the increasing choice in digital receivers, from the 8th of August Freeview will enable its viewers to experience this year’s biggest TV event, the Olympics, in high definition* on TV One plus 24/7 coverage on Freeview channel 20 – TVNZ Sport Extra.

Steve Browning, GM of Freeview, comments: “Freeview is undoubtedly the best way to experience the Beijing Olympic Games with TV One and TVNZ Sports Extra, a whole extra channel of Olympic coverage only available via Freeview”.

“The integrated digital TV’s provide the best solution for Kiwi’s who are yet to upgrade to a high definition TV as there’s no longer a requirement for a separate digital receiver, you get the superb quality that is synonymous with Freeview and there’s no fuss when it comes to installation or set up,” he adds.

“The compelling combination of a growing list of great products, your favourite shows in digital quality and no monthly subscription means there’s never been a better time to embrace Freeview and go digital,” he concludes.

The Freeview|HDTM service is currently available to around 75 per cent of New Zealand homes via UHF transmission. Homes outside these areas can still enjoy the benefits of an integrated digital TV with the additional purchase of a Freeview satellite receiver, and satellite dish if required.

Freeview, the free-to-air digital television and radio platform, today announced that more than 100,000 Freeview capable receivers have been purchased.

Speaking at the Freeview|HDTM launch celebration at Te Papa in Wellington this afternoon, the Prime Minister outlined that the figure represents more than 6% of Kiwi homes – a remarkable achievement and one that not only places Freeview right at the forefront of global broadcasting capability but ahead of most countries in terms of rate of take-up for a free-to-air digital television and radio service.

With the recent addition of TVNZ 7, Te Reo and tvCentral the total number of channels broadcasting on Freeview is now 15. In addition, Freeview is set to welcome radio station George FM to the Freeview satellite service.

“Like the other broadcast partners who have joined the Freeview service, George FM recognises that we are a great way to deliver compelling free-to-air content into the home.

“We are also delighted to welcome The Warehouse, one of New Zealand’s largest retailers, as a retail partner for Freeview approved receivers,” says Steve Browning, GM Freeview.

“Now the availability of Freeview satellite and Freeview|HDTM will provide 100% national coverage, different cost options and a growing channel offering. It means more choice for New Zealanders who wish to receive crystal clear television and radio services, with no monthly subscription,” he adds.

After a solid start, Freeview expects the momentum will continue with Freeview|HDTM offering a growing selection of high definition programming.