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Is your smart TV missing key catch-up and on-demand apps?

smart TV

You’d be shocked if you turned on the TV to find that some major broadcast channels weren’t available on your brand of television. But when it comes to smart TV apps, such as ITV Hub and All 4, that’s exactly what’s happening.

I expect a lot from my smart TV. I want to be able to watch the live cricket, flick over to Mad Men or Happy Valley in the Netflix app, and then perhaps head to All 4 (the Channel 4 catch-up app) to watch the episodes of Catastrophe that I’ve missed, all without ever leaving my sofa.

And most people want much the same. In a recent survey of more than 4,000 members, two thirds of smart TV owners said the availability of catch-up and on-demand apps was important when buying their TV.

So it’s no surprise that customers are left dumb-founded when these are missing from their brand-new smart TV.

The murky world of missing apps

Despite Samsung becoming the first manufacturer to offer the full complement of BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 catch-up apps in 2013, its 2015 and 2016 smart TVs were all missing these for several months when they were first available to buy.

At the time of writing, All 4 still hadn’t been released on its 2016 smart TVs – more than nine months after they were released.

Samsung said:

‘The Samsung Smart TV platform is used by content providers to make their apps available to consumers, and many factors can affect the speed in which this happens. Samsung is committed to working with content providers to make apps available as quickly as possible, whilst providing the best offering and experience.’

But waiting weeks or even months for the apps to appear isn’t the only issue – some will never be available on certain brands of TV. For example, LG, Panasonic and Sony smart TVs bought between 2011 and 2014 won’t ever have the ITV Hub nor All 4 apps.

And with TV manufacturers and retailers warning that the availability of third-party apps is subject to change, you could even discover that some become defunct a few years down the line.

A solution?

So what are smart TV manufacturers doing to ensure these key apps are available on their new models?

Well, most Panasonic and LG smart TVs now incorporate Freeview Play in their smart TV platforms. This handy system integrates catch-up TV into the electronic programme guide, allowing LG and Panasonic to offer all the key services.

Smaller brands Hisense, JVC and Toshiba all recently announced they will be also integrating Freeview Play into some of their TVs, while Sony has incorporated YouView, a similar system offering the main catch-up apps, in its smart TVs since 2015.

Not only do Freeview Play and YouView allow TV brands to offer BBC iPlayer, the ITV Hub, All 4 and My 5, the apps are on the TVs as soon as they become available, so you won’t be waiting weeks or months for them to appear.

This means that Samsung – which has yet to make any clear commitment to include either Freeview Play or YouView in its smart TVs – has gone from being the only major brand able to offer all the main catch-up apps to being the only one not able to offer them from when the TVs first become available to buy.

As Freeview Play and YouView are relatively young, we’re yet to see whether these systems will lose support for catch-up TV services.

But Freeview did tell us that it had considered this when designing the system:

‘While we cannot absolutely guarantee that all our content partner’s apps and services will be present for the life of the device, we have taken steps to ensure that Freeview Play offers the greatest possible chance of achieving this by mandating the very latest connected TV technology and enforcing common standards.’

But, to me, the fact that most apps are now available on your brand-new TV from the start is definitely an improvement.

Is your smart TV missing key catch-up and on-demand apps? Or was it when you first bought it?

Comments
Guest
Teddysmum says:
27 February 2018

I contacted Panasonic when the ITV Hub disappeared from our TX-42AS650and as others found, they blamed ITV (Those contacting ITV finding they blame Panasonic).Panasonic couldn’t care less and suggested I view via phone or tablet (No mention of laptop), but when I said I had neither of their suggestions, they suggested I buy a new tv offering a list of current models(after just over 2 years? no chance).

They obviously realise it is a Freetime problem, as they have reverted to FreeviewPlay on later models. My query about whether they can offer a software/hardware tweak went unanswered, so if they can, they have no intention of doing so.
I have contacted BBC’s Watchdog, in the hope that enough consumers do the same, so the programme at least exposes this obsolescence at two years rip-off or possibly prompts them to take action (ie pay up).

Guest

I don’t know why the consumers’ associations in Europe have not joined forces to tackle this problem. It’s the best example of planned obsolescence I know. Switching to another brand might not help because the manufacturers seem to be playing the same game.

I wonder if anyone has made a claim under the Consumer Rights Act.

Guest

Still getting logged out and cant sign in . Anyway Mom of Teddy as I keep repeating — 2 years + and you start to lose the “Smart ” part of your TV , your only hope is to buy a Roku box and dont buy a future “smart TV ” as the app designers only get paid once and dont get paid to update them as manufacturers want you to buy a new TV .

Guest

As of 20:44 still getting logged out .

Guest

I had this and other problems this morning but all seems to be working and I’ve remained logged in for hours.

Guest

As of 22:11 still cant log in blocked , have to use bottom log in to post.

Guest
Diocletian says:
7 March 2018

This problem is now back in focus. My Panasonic was selected about three years ago because it had apps. including Skype, paying a premium for a built-in camera. After a few months, that app. stopped functioning, so the expensive camera was redundant, the ITV hub was never activated and now, the latest insult, ALL4 has died.
This deceptive marketing of Smart TVs is not acceptable, the fine print is used as a defence but the risks of short life of functions not mentioned at point of sale. At the least, the manufacturers should provide free a device to return the sets to full functionality and explain the risks or face charges of deceptive marketing.

Guest

Diocletian- there is no logical business/financial reason why manufacturers could be forced to continue to provide apps for a smart TV( TV,s are “old ” after a few years ) . if you look at the small print they do not guarantee a “life of the TV ” apps statement . I do agree its sly/tricky etc with all the flashy advertising but in real legal terms the public have no real address but if they kick up a lot of adverse publicity occasionally the company takes action but that is few and far between. Get a Roku box and have many more years of “smart ” viewing.