3 incredible Sky Glass features you'll find on Freely, the free broadband-powered replacement for Freeview

a sky glass tv remote pictured on the right side of the image with a Smart tv with the freely menu on the screen in the background

Freely won't work with existing Freeview Play-powered Smart TVs, instead you'll need to upgrade to one of a range of new television models designed to work with the new free-to-air platform

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 19/05/2024

- 05:31

Freely has been built from scratch to stream live television over Wi-Fi

  • Freely is now available on Smart TVs in the UK
  • The successor to Freeview offers access to live television over broadband
  • Freely shares several features with Sky Glass and Sky Stream

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Watching television might never be the same again as millions of people ditch aerials and satellite dishes in favour of broadband-powered telly. According to Sky, 90% of new customers now choose either the all-in-one Sky Glass TV or Sky Stream box — both of which beam live television to screens via a Wi-Fi connection.

Rivals like Virgin Media Stream and the recently relaunched EE TV rely on a decent broadband connection to bring linear channels and on-demand streamers to any room in your house.

Last month saw the long-anticipated launch of Freely — a new platform from the team behind Freeview built from the ground up to stream live television channels over broadband. The release comes a little over five months after the name and logo were first teased by Everyone TV, the organisation behind Freeview and Freesat backed by the UK's biggest broadcasters, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

the freely logo is designed to resemble an emoji, pictured here in an animated GIF

Freely is a completely new platform that promises to beam terrestrial channels and on-demand content to your Smart TV via broadband — with no aerial or satellite dish needed


As long as you're covered by a TV Licence, Freely is completely free to watch. Although, you'll need to upgrade your existing Freeview Play-powered hardware as this isn't a simple software update.

With Freely set to replace Freeview and Freesat in the coming years, especially if Rishi Sunak's Government fails to safeguard the upcoming switch-off of traditional TV broadcasts, how does Freely compare to its paid counterparts?

Has Everyone TV managed to recreate the experience of watching on Sky Glass and Sky Stream, powered by the UK broadcasters' custom EntertainmentOS software, at a fraction of the cost? We covered the list of capabilities between these two broadband-powered platforms to find out.

Watch a live preview before changing channels

Ever wished you could check whether the show on the other side has already started before you change channels? Or find out whether the ad break has ended before you change channels?

Sky TV viewers have long been able to watch a live preview of another channel before deciding whether to switch sides. This clever feature was introduced with its Sky Q box back in early February 2016.

The nifty functionality can also be found in its newer Sky Glass and Sky Stream hardware. And for the first time, Freely will bring the same trick to millions of viewers who watch free-to-air television in the UK.

animated gif showing the mini guide on-screen with freely TV

The Mini Guide offers more information on the programme you're currently watching, a shortcut to additional episodes from catch-up services, and the ability to restart from the beginning


Freely calls this feature the Mini Guide.

Whenever you're switching between live channels on a Freely-compatible set-top box or Smart TV, a pop-up will appear at the bottom of the screen with details about whatever you’re currently watching, what’s coming up next, and a button to restart the current programme from the beginning.

If there are multiple episodes from the same show available on-demand from a catch-up service like iPlayer, ITVX or My5, the Info & Episodes button in the Mini Guide will let you start scrolling through the back catalogue and jump into another episode.

As you cycle through other channels using the directional arrows on your remote, the artwork of the show will be replaced with a live preview of what's happening on the other side.

Restart a show from the beginning with a single tap

Missed the start of your show? Thankfully, the days of waiting until the credits have rolled on the episode before you can watch the on-demand version are long gone. With Freely, you can restart a programme with the tap of a button at any point during the live broadcast.

When watching a linear television channel, summon the Mini Guide with a tap on your remote and you'll see your progress through the programme, scheduled end time, and a shortcut to Restart.

trigger point itv show pictured on a flatscreen tv with the freely interface

The Mini Guide includes a shortcut to restart the episode from the beginning, with the programme restarted instantly and streamed from a catch-up service


Tapping on this will start streaming the episode from the relevant catch-up service (BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4) so you can watch from the beginning.

This capability has been built into BBC iPlayer for some time, so it makes sense to see this nifty feature baked into Freely from the start. Sky Stream and Sky Glass viewers will also be accustomed to jumping back to the beginning when they tune in late to a TV show, film, or sports coverage.

Blending live television and on-demand episodes

One of the biggest headaches that all TV platforms attempt to solve is bringing together shows, documentaries, and films from a wide range of live channels, streaming apps, and digital stores into a single menu.

When watching Freeview Play, you'll need to know exactly which streaming service has the TV show you're trying to watch in its catalogue. Then you'll need to navigate the menu and load up the app to start watching.

Freely is designed to remove a number of these steps.

animated gif showing the process of scrolling through previous episodes of a show from the mini guide

Freely offers quick access to previously-aired episodes of a show, without the need to launch a specific app from the main menu


When watching an episode of a show on live television, the Mini Guide will include an Info & Episodes button. This brings up a carousel of previous episodes and seasons that are all available to watch immediately. Clicking on any of these episodes will queue up the show from the relevant streaming service.

There's no need to know whether the TV show is included on BBC iPlayer, ITVX, Channel 4, or UKTV Play. Freely handles all of the admin on its side, and you're able to start watching within seconds.

Sky Stream and Sky Glass rely on a feature known as Playlist, which brings together catalogues from all streaming apps supported on EntertainmentOS.

Everything is seamlessly blended — even if the latest series of a particular show is being broadcast on BBC iPlayer, but earlier episodes are only available to catch up on Netflix.

You'll be able to browse through all episodes in a carousel without jumping between different apps.

Freely hasn't confirmed support for the likes of Netflix, Prime Video, or Disney+ yet, so the number of options available under its Info & Episodes menu won't quite be the same as Sky Glass and Sky Stream, but it's off to a strong start and is only likely to grow as more TV manufacturers support the software.

promotional image from freely with a tv covered in the words all you need is wifi

Freely will be the default way to watch live and on-demand television on new Smart TVs from popular brands, including Hisense and Vestel. Instead of a TV aerial, it uses an internet connection and catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and ITVX to stream shows


Everyone TV says the arrival of Freely marks the first time all four of Britain’s public service broadcasters have come together to launch a streaming proposition and signals the beginning of "a journey to secure the future of free TV through collaboration."

Unlike Freesat, which requires a satellite dish, and Freeview, which relies on an aerial to bring live channels to your television, all you'll need to get started with Freely is a Wi-Fi connection. As such, you won't be limited where you can place your television in any room... as long as you have decent Wi-Fi coverage.

Freely isn't a software update to your existing Freeview-enabled Smart TV or set-top box. Instead, you'll need to upgrade to one of a slew of new Smart TVs coming to UK retailers in the coming months.

freely browse menu shown in screenshot

Browse in a new menu found on Freely devices that brings together live channels and on-demand shows based on your tastes. It has a dedicated button on your TV remote


Telly brand Hisense will be the first to ship Smart TVs with Freely as the default way to watch television. These new sets will be available to order later today at Currys, Argos, AO and Very.

Rival manufacturer Vestel has confirmed plans to launch Freely-powered TVs in the coming weeks, and more brands are likely to follow soon.

Everyone TV confirmed that discussions are underway with UKTV to bring its portfolio of free channels to Freely over your broadband connection. UKTV is the award-winning brand that owns and operates channels like Dave, Drama, Yesterday, and W.

All of these are currently available via Freeview and Freesat, so we’d expect them to be included in the TV Guide and on-demand options when the first Freely TVs start to appear on store shelves.

Alongside its participation in Freely, the BBC has outlined plans to scale-up its BBC iPlayer service in the next year ahead of the next licence fee review by the next UK Government.

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