Not that long ago, it was tricky to catch your favourite free-to-air shows while you were away from your TV. You had no choice but to download the relevant network’s “catch-up” app. And then, wait for the show you wanted to see to get added to the line-up. Catch-up apps are great, of course, for when you miss an episode of a show you really wanted to watch. But what about when you’re travelling (or at work!) and want to watch something that’s on TV right now? Enter Freeview FV.
Back in the day, some of the networks’ catch-up apps added basic live streaming functionality to try to cater for the issue. However, something was missing. The ability to “change channels”, to check out the program guide, see what’s on and go straight to the appropriate channel to catch the show. Not anymore.
Freeview FV is an app for your phones and tablets. It was built from the ground up to give you the experience of having access to free-to-air TV – all of it – no matter where you are. And no, we’re not quite sure what the “FV” stands for – possible “free viewer” or maybe just “Freeview” again. This well designed (and completely free to download and use) app lets you browse a crisp-clear and up-to-the-minute interactive program guide to see what’s on. You can then hop on to that channel’s live stream instantly to start watching. The guide feature is almost worth the app download on its own. There’s a shortage of quality TV guide apps for mobile devices. And the ones that are available tend to rely on listings that can potentially be out-of-date. When it comes to free-to-air program guides, Freeview’s is the definitive one.
You can also schedule reminder alarms for any show that’s airing in the future. All you need to do is tap the listing for the show, then tap the Reminder icon. All that’s left is to set your device to alert you up to three hours before the show goes to air.
Full descriptions for the shows are included too. So, for example, if you’re a Neighbours fan, tapping on an episode of that show takes you to a page that lists all the upcoming episodes and a summary of what’s going to happen. Beware the spoilers!
Of course, hunting around the guide for an episode of a particular show to get to its page in the first place isn’t ideal. Which is why Freeview FV lets you add any show you like to your list of favourites. This way, you have instant and easy access from the app’s Favourites menu.
What channels does it include?
The Freeview FV app currently offers a hefty 20 channels to pick from. Pretty much everything you’d find by turning on the TV is here. Included channels are ABC, SBS, Seven, Channel 9, TEN, ONE, 11, ABC2/ABC KIDS, ABC ME, ABC News 24, Viceland, Food Network, NITV, 7TWO, 7Mate, 7Flix, Racing.com, 9Gem, 9Go! and 9Life. As comprehensive as it comes without adding those shopping channels that nobody watches anyway.
There is one downside with the current version of the app, though it’s not Freeview’s fault as much as it is that of the network involved. The Nine Network’s three channels are present and accounted for in the app. However, you can’t stream them live directly in Freeview FV. Instead, tapping to stream a Nine show will prompt you to download (or open) Nine’s own 9now app to do so. The reason for this is probably that Nine requires you to sign up for a free account to use their catch-up and streaming service – the only network to do so. Hopefully that’ll change sooner rather than later.
Can I watch on the big screen?
It might seem ironic that people would want to stream live TV from their mobile device to their big screen TV, but it actually does make sense in some cases. You may have terrible reception on one or more networks, for example. Or, you may not have an antenna connected at all to the TV you want to watch on (in the bedroom, for example). And there’s also the bonus that the streaming channels are mainly sourced from the high definition version of each. So if your digital TV only does standard definition, the quality could turn out to be better. In fact, with some networks’ secondary channels, the only way to watch them in HD is via streaming.
With all this in mind, Freeview FV fully supports Chromecast. Just tap the familiar icon in the corner of the screen and you can fling your live stream over to your TV using Google’s inexpensive and extremely handy device!