So there will be no FreeView EPG until the end of the year. Channel 9’s new channel will launch some time in August. ONE HD is already here for anyone who lives in the 5 capital cities. FreeView branded equipment will be on sale from May 1. And FreeView will launch more ads from April 26.
Exactly what do they hope to achieve with these ads? More confusion? More empty promises? Brand awareness? Confusing the already confused?
In my opinion, what really needs to happen is to have everything sorted out before they wast anymore time advertising and further confuse TV viewers Australia wide. Given that the EPG will not launch until the end of the year, how will the product work in any case? And there is still the cloud over the ad skipping capability on the FreeView branded PVR. I can understand why they would not want viewers to skip ads completely, so why not base the system on Foxtels’ IQ2 where you fast forward ads? If you see an ad that is interesting, you stop and take a look. Making people sit through ads when they are not watching live TV just won’t work. And being called FreeView will mean nothing.
Since the FreeView name was introduced late last year, saying “coming soon in 2009”, there has been little or no development to the system leading many to write it off as a pointless waste of time. This is now the stigma they are stuck with and will be very hard for them to work their way out of it. FreeView is seen as misleading and a series of empty promises. As I have written in other posts here, we will not see 15 unique Free to air channels any time soon.
Here’s what should happen now, in my opinion, if FreeView is going to revive itself:
1. Do not advertise at all until everything is in place for the product.
2. Set deadlines with manufacturers for FreeView branded equipment, and get them into the market place by a certain date.
3. Educate retailers about the system.
4. Deadline when the extra channels come. Ten has ONE HD already. 9’s 2nd channel is due in August, 7 is yet to announce, but should ideally do it about the same time as 9.
5. Get the EPG up in line with extra channels.
6. Include community TV (where available), and maybe even some of the channels in the 44 group in Sydney extending to other cities and areas – that gets more channels (Available frequencies may be an issue though).
7. Make sure that the regionals are on at the same time – unlike what happened with ONE HD, still yet to appear on SC10.
8. Publicise these dates in the media and on their web site. Keep the public informed. back up promises with actual content and detail. So far, one of the biggest problems with FreeView has been the lack of any actual content to back up their promises.
9. Any additonal services that will come with FreeView – such as on demand services – should be confirmed with launch dates as well during this time.
Once everything is in place, then will be the time to release FreeView as a complete system with 10 (say) channels including all other features it will have working rather than “coming soon”. That way, the consumer will know they are getting a complete product and not some expensive box with little or nothing over what they have now or can obtain much more cheaply.