EE launches EE TV, a UK set top box with mobile streaming
Staff Reporter | On 08, Oct 2014
Billed as “the UK’s most advanced TV service”, EE TV aims to put mobile “at the heart of the TV experience”, working with tablets and smartphones, as well as TVs, to let customers to access Freeview, On Demand and catch-up content across multiple devices simultaneously.
“The growing availability of sophisticated tablets and smartphones, and the introduction of 4G across the UK, has fundamentally changed the way consumers enjoy TV,” says the company. “Video content today makes up more than 50% of EE’s 4G mobile network activity. Based on the experience gained from running the UK’s most advanced 4G and home broadband network, EE has developed a truly integrated mobile and home TV service.”
EE has previously attempted to join the YouView consortium, according to the Guardian. EE, though, will not be deterred from its goal: the company has already entered the living room through its FilmFlex-powered VOD pay-per-view service, which offers new movies available to rent on-demand. Now, it plans to follow BT and TalkTalk into the TV arena, targeting its own base of customers.
On the outside, the service looks familiar: EE TV will be powered by a set top box, much like its rivals, including YouView (owned by a consortium of broadcasters and media firms, from the BBC to ITV, TalkTalk and BT), which also blends live and catch-up TV inside a single interface.
But here’s the kicker: as well as watching programmes on the telly, EE TV will allow viewers to stream live and recorded content on up to three smartphones or tablets simultaneously, which means families fighting over remotes can watch four different programmes, in four different rooms, on four different devices all at the same time.
Olaf Swantee, CEO, EE, said: “Today we’re announcing the most advanced TV service the UK has ever seen. How, where and when people watch TV and movies is changing, and mobile technology is driving that change.
“As the UK’s biggest and fastest network, with more than 25 million customers, we have unrivalled insight into people’s changing viewing habits. It’s helped us create a service that has mobile at its heart, and makes the TV experience more personal than ever before.
“With EE TV, not only can you watch different streams of live and recorded content, on multiple screens simultaneously, but your mobile becomes the remote. This gives each viewer the chance to watch, queue and view what they want, when they want. It’s a completely new way to enjoy your favourite programmes, films and internet content.”
A Record feature allows the customers to view the last 24 hours of TV from their favourite channels, and presents the shows in a simple way by genres or channels – ideal for those who arrive home late or want to watch a programme not available on catch-up TV. The UI also highlights top picks for the day,.
MultiRecord allows up to four separate programmes to be recorded simultaneously, stored on the box’s 1TB hard disk drive, which offers space for up to 25 days of TV content.
The EE TV app will also enable viewers to use their tablet or mobile as a touch remote, navigating content without interrupting what’s being shown on the screen. The content they’re watching on the small screen can then be instantly transferred to the big – not unlike Google Chromecast.
In addition to Freeview HD with more than 70 live channels, EE TV will launch with a number of popular TV catch-up and on-demand services, including Daily Motion, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 and film and TV partner Wuaki.tv. (BSkyB, of course, have declined, focusing instead on their own rival NOW TV box, which is in direct competition with Apple TV.)
The platform will include an ever growing range of content applications, building on the international standard for interactive TV, Hbb-TV. Further partners are already confirmed to join the service, and will be announced in the coming months.
Will it be enough for EE to carve out its own niche in a crowded marketplace? TalkTalk has already built up 1 million TV consumers through its TV packages. EE’s rapidly established 4G network, then, is a strong base upon which to grow.
How much will EE TV cost?
The device is worth £300, says EE, but will will be free for all EE mobile customers who sign up to an EE Broadband plan. Eligible plans start from just £9.95 per month (a launch price only available to EE mobile customers) and include free weekend calls and unlimited Broadband with speeds of up to 17Mbps. For those who want extra speed, more expensive packages are available.