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Freely Channels Missing Within the First Month of Release

Freely, the until-recently hotly-anticipated internet-only version of Freeview, has been facing issues within its first month of rollout. A limited EPG, now even more limited by delivery errors, isn't doing much to invite new users. In fact, the advice for Freely TV is currently to always have an aerial connected, to ensure you have access to more channels, and channels that drop off of IPTV availability.

June 4th 2024 Freely Issue with ITV

The Freely "Updates and Alerts" page, which mirrors its old Freeview cousin of the same name, reported on June 4th that ITV channels are currently inaccessible on Freely via Internet TV.

This means that one of the 5 main channels on Freely (of just 30 total) is out of commission.

While channel outages aren't exactly new, it stings particularly badly for anyone actually able to affected by a Freely outage.

When you consider the minimum bar to entry is a brand-new brand-partner 2024 model TV costing £1000+ then a loss of a channel within your first month of use doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

Users becoming early-adopters of Freely have had to pay out of pocket, and rely on an aerial for most content, and aren't seeing any extra quality or stability for the trouble.

The nail in the coffin is Everyone TV's confirmation of this issue:

"We are aware of an issue affecting viewers watching ITV via an internet connected TV. The problem does not affect anyone watching via an aerial connection."

So, the solution is to use an aerial, that thing Freely has been trying to pull us away from in favour of internet delivery.

June 11th 2024 Freely Issue with Channel 5

Just a week later, on June 11th, the Freely Updates and Alerts page had an identical message but this time for Channel 5!

"We are aware of an issue affecting some viewers watching channel 5 channels via an internet connected TV. The problem does not affect anyone watching via an aerial connection."

It's looking like teething problems with channel stability are all but inevitable. If Freely can't iron out these issues, and if they keep occurring weekly despite only having a tiny pool of channels compared to the huge Freeview EPG, then adoption of the new "Freely" system will be slower than expected.

This confirms a major caveat of Freely becoming a de-facto replacement for Freeview rather than a supplement, and that is that either system can fail alone. If we replace all our TV with IP TV, an internet outage is everyone disconnected. If we still have aerials, we have a backup, exactly like in this ITV and Channel 5 situation.

This whole debacle demonstrates how aerial TV is a vital backup for when internet delivery fails, and a sign that Freely has some ways to go before becoming an equivalent, let alone replacement, for Freeview.

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