The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and network operator Arqiva – Digital UK’s four shareholders – have announced a new five-year agreement to accelerate Freeview’s transition to a fully hybrid platform, with a combined investment of over £125 million to secure the future of free-to-view live and on-demand TV.

The collaboration builds on the success of Freeview Play, which claims the position of UK market leader in free-to-view connected TV with more than 3.5 million products sold in the UK since the service’s 2015 launch.

Key areas of development will include: a new mobile app enabling viewers to access live and on-demand content on a range of smartphones and tablets, launching later this year; restart functionality allowing viewers switching on mid-way through a programme to watch from the start using catch-up links built into the Freeview Play TV guide and improved navigation through voice search and further evolution of the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide on televisions

Jonathan Thompson, Digital UK’s chief executive, said: “As the UK’s TV landscape becomes increasingly impacted by global players, this new commitment from our shareholders is a major boost for UK viewers. Building on this spirit of collaboration, we will not only safeguard free-to-view TV but reinvent it for a new age of viewing.”