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Freeview in a nutshell: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Freeview

Let’s rewind back to 2003. Quite frankly, 2003 was a terrible year to watch free-to-air television. All the three major networks (Seven, Nine  and Ten) were airing nothing but “reality” TV programing and hundreds of house renovation shows that all looked the same. The early ’00s was a period when scripted drama (both Australia and US) were, believe it or not, close to extinction as everyone seemed to like watching wannabees singing badly at a karaoke contest, couples renovating a block and housemates doing absolutely nothing at a “big brother” house.  Just because everyone are watching reality TV, doesn’t mean they all like it.  The only TV shows that were entertaining back  then were old-school  Doctor Who repeats and CNNN-The Chaser’s Non-Stop News Network on ABC, mostly because they were different from the saturated prime-time trend. Apart from the non-educational offerings of ABC, the only resort for home entertainment are pay TV service FOXTEL and DVD box-sets but they cost tons of money. In retrospects, it’s impossible to tell the networks what you want to watch on TV but we should have given more viewing choices and variety without breaking the bank.

Daleks

It was either Big Brother or this.....

Let’s fast forward to October 2010. It’s the best time to be a TV viewer and a booming period for home entertainment. FOXTEL and DVDs from retailers, like JB HI-FI, are increasingly affordable while the introduction of Blu-Ray and high definition TV makes even the most boring show watchable just for the picture quality alone.  Broadband Internet has turned online videos into a legitimate medium and downloading music became more accessible. Finally, digital TV and Freeview has totally revolutionised living rooms across Australia.

Originated from the UK in 2002 and adapted by Australian networks to compete against FOXTEL, Freeview is a digital TV service that allow viewers to get extra channels in good picture & sound quality depending on your reception. Oh did I mention its for FREE? All of the free channels are spun-off from the the major networks (i.e. ONE Sports HD is part of the TEN network) and in addition to the recently launched 7mate and GEM, there are 24 channels available for your viewing pleasure. Obviously the best thing about Freeview is the wide selection of programs you want to watch on TV and each channel is crafted for a specific audience. Feel like watching repeats of Hogan’s Heores instead of watching the AFL Grand Final rematch? You switch to GO! Want Australian news anytime you want, there’s ABC 24/7 News Channel. For kids and big kids alike, there’s ABC3. Upset that the later seasons of Heroes and Lost were shown at the Gravyard shift on Seven?  You can watch them at a better timeslot on 7mate.

Great to see you again, Fred

As the above headline suggested, Freeview is a major step forward from what we used to have ten years ago. It’s great to see classics like The Flintstones make its surprise primetime return on free-to-air  and more choices for everyone’s viewing needs. Despite its original purpose, its unlikely Freeview could rival FOXTEL as there are popular programs , such as Australia’s Top Model and the WWE franchise, that are pay TV exclusive but they’re close to it.  Freeview shouldn’t be counted as the final nail in the coffin to the already dying video rental industry as DVDs are still popular and its insane to suggest anyone would prefer to watch commercial-interrupted movies over Blu-Ray. However, Freeview is welcomed for opening arms.

The only catch of Freeview is you need to get either a plasma or LCD digital TV set. If you want to keep that old bulky idiot box, there’s always the digital set top boxes. Either way, they’re worth every cent.

TV is finally cool again and 2003 is just a distant memory.