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(Pocket-lint) - Freeview Play is a free catch-up TV system available on the vast majority of smart TVs.

It embraces online content alongside linear free-to-air TV, allowing users to scroll backwards through their television's electronic programme guide (EPG) and click on shows or films they have missed. The programme then streams over an internet connection.

To help you get to grips with what Freeview Play offers and when and where you might see it, we've put together this quick and handy guide. 

What is Freeview Play?

Basic Freeview is the free-to-air digital TV offering for the vast majority of UK television sets and an equally large number of set-top boxes. It offers many standard definition channels, HD channels and Freeview+ as a standard for personal video recording.

Freeview Play adds connected services to the mix so that, within the EPG, you are able to scroll back through the last seven days of programming and select shows to watch streamed over the internet that you might have missed. Over 11 million devices have so far been sold featuring the UK-focused technology.

When clicking on a show to stream. the respective free streaming service, such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub, opens and automatically plays the show selected.

The tech is an open standard, which means manufacturers can skin the experience any way they like, as long as they stick to the agreed standards: the Freeview Play branding must remain prominent, for example.

What devices is Freeview Play available on? 

Freeview has partnerships with a number of hardware manufacturers that operate in the UK. This includes those that make TVs and set-top boxes. Manufacturers include Panasonic, LG, Philips, Sony, Toshiba, Manhattan and Hisense. 

You can see a full list of Freeview Play-enabled devices released so far here.

There are no costs associated with Freeview Play beyond what it costs to buy the equipment. So, unlike Sky or Virgin Media, there are no subscriptions as everything is free to air, or free to use on catch-up.

What services does Freeview Play offer?

There are now 70 TV channels available on Freeview including 15 HD channels at no cost and over 25 radio stations. 

Freeview Play adds more than 30,000 hours of free catch-up content. 10 on-demand services are now available: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK, Horror Bites, STV Player, POP Player and BBC Sounds.

However, Freeview Play doesn't offer access to services like Netflix or Amazon's Prime Video. There's nothing to stop manufacturers from including additional services to their own smart platforms though, which many do. For example, Humax includes Netflix on its Freeview Play boxes and LG has the full webOS smart TV platform alongside the Freeview Play functions.

Freeview also has a mobile app for iOS and Android which enables you to stream live TV and access on-demand content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, and UKTV Play. The app has no subscription so you can use it even if you don't have a Freeview Play set top box or TV - you just need to also have the respectively catch-up apps for each channel service available on your device, as it opens them  when you select content. 

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Writing by Rik Henderson.