With the increasing popularity of the free-to-air networks’ catch-up streaming services in recent years, the problem for many consumers has been finding a convenient way to access the wealth of programming – both current and vintage – that can be found across the various services.
Fetch TV Launches Virtual Channels
The solution for this overwhelming amount of content is, according to Fetch TV, to present it in a format that long-time TV viewers will immediately celebrate. The result is a set of four “virtual channels” that rolled out on Fetch TV’s popular Mighty and Mini boxes.
These new channels appear in the Fetch program guide in exactly the same format as the traditional broadcast channels but are actually made up of streamed programming from the catch up services belonging to each network.
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Viewers simply “change the channel” to one of these new virtual channels for SBS, Seven, Nine or Ten, and if they choose to sit back and watch they’ll see a scheduled series of shows play out. But the line between the impression of a “live” channel and on-demand streaming becomes more defined at the end of an episode when viewers will have the option to watch further episodes of that series, or just continue on with the scheduled programs from the guide.
What do Virtual Channels Offer?
Viewers can also browse back or forward in the guide and instantly start any of the listed programs without having to load the specific network’s catch-up app and search for it. The concept promotes spontaneous sampling of programs as well as bringing a level of interactivity to the traditional TV schedule. When starting an episode, it will always start from the beginning regardless of where it’s up to in the schedule, making sure viewers don’t miss anything if they come in late. Shows “airing” next can be instantly started too, just by browsing forward from the current program guide time.
At the moment, the only network of the “big five” free to air channels that isn’t participating is the ABC, possibly because of budgetary concerns – everything streamed from the ABC’s iView service costs the network money from an ever-tightening budget. Regardless, Fetch TV is hopeful the ABC will join the virtual channel line-up in the future.
Shows that viewers decide to keep watching are also automatically saved for future continued-viewing in the device’s “My Stuff” section, where episodes can be played directly without having to load up the relevant network’s catch-up app.
All Fetch TV users can access the new virtual channels right now, just by heading to the on-screen Program Guide from the Fetch remote control.