IP&TV News talks to Freesat CTO Matthew Huntington ahead of his appearance at this year’s OTTtv World Summit (9th – 12th November, London)
IP&TV News: Hi Matthew. We’re fast approaching another OTTtv World Summit. How have things changed for Freesat in the last twelve months?
Matthew Huntington: We’ve continued to grow out household base. Last year we managed to grow by 56,000 households, and in the first half of this year we managed 19,000 households, which when you look at the general market dynamics I think is pretty impressive. We also continue to develop our Freetime service that we provide to consumers. We’re in the process of adding new devices: that means new set top boxes from new manufacturers, but at the same time enhancing and improving that service with software upgrades to boxes in the field, but also expanding how that integrates with our mobile application.
Have you seen significant growth in mobile TV usage during the period? How have you been innovating in this space?
The success of our mobile application continues to surprise us. We’ve had 650,000 downloads across iOS, Android and Kindle, and have an engaged audience out there, so we’re trying to bring more and more services to them. Most recently we launched the remote record functionality on the application. That enables people to book recordings, review recordings, or delete them, from any application in the world.
We’ve now moved some of that functionality into other environments. We added a button that enables people to record directly from email. Because it’s effectively a web link we can place that anywhere. We’ve started doing tweets and Facebook posts etc. – anywhere that accepts a URL link, and we can do a remote record.
And there’s currently an international push too is that right?
Yes, we’ve been working on how we sell the Freetime technology that we put together internationally. That started off with a number of operators being very interested in what we’d done – both in terms of the quality of the UI we provide, the number of services we provide and the technology behind it. We’ve been working on models to bundle that up.
What’s successful with Freetime in the UK is how we’ve blended broadcast and OTT services together. That is also why we’ll see success internationally– we understand that, and we can help operators on similar position to us go on a similar journey we did making that transition.
What’s the main message Freesat will bring to this year’s OTTtv World Summit?
Our key message is that, despite all the hype around OTT, it’s not yet dominating consumer viewing, and therefore as businesses in the TV space, we need to respect that consumer behaviour is changing – but changing slowly. We can’t rush just because we’d like to move to all-singing all-dancing OTT services; we need to make the most of the existing broadcasts linear services, and then provide ways of educating and developing consumers to use those more advanced OTT services.