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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
Patrick Taylor says:
19 April 2017

” Almost all of Samsung’s latest TVs are ‘smart’, internet-connected sets. On Samsung’s smart TV platform, known as Tizen, you’ll find catch-up and streaming apps, as well popular social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter. ”

Did this drawback feature in the scoring during Which?’s testing in 2016? Seems a more than major defect.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Guest

I have commented on this subject several times in answer to posters comments about loss of service on “smart TV,s ” after a few years . After having checked into this over a long period on many tech.websites and business websites it boils down to 2 things . One- the TV manufacturers are too mean to pay the software designers money to update the apps. Two- its bad commercial practice (profit ) to allow long term apps as manufacturers are always churning out new models for maximum profit . This is why I said -buy a cheap “smart TV ” near Christmas ? then make sure a new model isn’t introduced in January/February / March . No matter what the propaganda at the time from the advertising industry , apps are only made to last a few years. and they know it so out comes the above disclaimer – quote- we cannot absolutely guarantee that all our “partners ” apps will be present for the lifetime of your TV (device ) . I have stored a lot of data on this subject as I knew it would interest the British public and remind them NEVER take the word of any advertisement as out will come _T+C -said so fast that you are not meant to hear it. Big companies are not stupid , every move is thought out att various levels in a company -get wise.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
20 April 2017

“Tech giant Samsung was awarded a special ‘Which? Awards 10th Anniversary Award’ for consistently performing well in Which?’s research and testing, and focusing on making their products better for consumers. It’s also the only brand to be shortlisted for both ‘sound and vision’ and ‘home appliance’ categories this year.”

Curiously 2016 was a major disaster year for Samsung what with exploding phones, and also would appear a wrong strategy on its smart TV interoperability with services customers expect on the TV.

In 2015 VW was Which?’s Car Manufacturer of the Year and then look what happened when it was revealed that VW had been conning people into buying diesels that were meant to be greener than other manufacturers.

My belief is the system is flawed as reading Trustpilot there are many unhappy customers with Waitrose but they apparently are favourites for service. Given the flaws in how it operates I am much more impressed with the Australian Consumers body “Choice” who provide examples of outrageous company action and award the Shonkies each year – in English the Shoddies I suppose – and this is a major media event.

Which? glad-handing some major companies, particularly looking at Samsung and VW seems to have backfired rather. As for service levels how one can judge a small chain with a big chain seems a mystery.

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Guest

As there are only three posts on this convo lets see if I can “stir it up ” with some (proven ) controversy . Some regulars and other posters have Samsung “smart ” TV,s well they are a bit smarter than you think but not in the way you think . I brought this subject up several times but either people didn’t believe me or didn’t want to comment. I nave been vindicated , although I already said I could prove it . WikiLeaks has now published openly a CIA users guide using a tool called “Weeping Angel ” based on a MI5/BTSS tool , its a malware implant for Samsung F series smart TV,s and records audio from the built in microphone . This is a British “innovation ” given to the Yanks ( No Charge MI5 ? ) I know this is a minute % of what they can really do (just about anything ) so I hope those disbelieving me think again , nothing and I mean nothing would make me buy a “smart (too smart for its own good ) TV.

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Guest

Well, I’m not overly concerned about the CIA finding out what we had for supper, or whether it’s raining here (it often is) and, as we don’t operate any clandestine agenda-ridden groups other than our Bridge club, I doubt I’ll be terribly worried, really.

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Guest

I’m not sure “proven + controversy” go together. But the prospect of the CIA potentially spying on millions of people in the UK if they had Samsung TVs would seem to provide employment for a lot of Americans with very little reward; or could it be Rupert? Ian’s bridge club is worrying however, as a gathering of intellectuals might imply some controversial discussions also take place. I’ve nothing worth hiding so don’t care who spies on me, to be honest, if that’s how they want to waste their time. Given how much CCTV we have in the UK I think our tv sets might be of little consequence.

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Guest

What facts do you think are lies malcolm ? What upsets me is not the fact we are spied on 24/7 by both governments and big business but the fact that we give away help to the USA spy agencies for free when I know , in the past this was not a reciprocal measure and self interest of the USA came into play , now that does upset me.

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Guest

Duncan, I think the above posts provide an example of how proven facts, half truths and unproven speculation can be interwoven in articles published on the internet.

From what I already know, I am happy to accept that the CIA and others have access to all sorts of surveillance technology.

But I doubt that there is any truth in the derived inferences that they will be targeting surveillance activities on the likes of Ian’s Bridge Club.

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Guest

If you think I am posting lies just come out with it Derek and I will give a full expose of not just the CIA but all the others with actions/times/ types of surveillance / methods used , what countries targeted, what groups targeted, US Federal actions taken against people . political parties , ordinary citizens and an awful lot more but it will be very embarrassing , not to me though.

Profile photo of DerekP
Guest

Duncan,

I said I agree with your post above but I did not agree with the scurrilous suggestions made by Ian and Malcolm that Ian’s Bridge Club would be a worthwhile target for CIA surveillance (nor, I suspect, was I supposed to).

Profile photo of John Ward
Guest

I like being under constant surveillance. It gives me the perfect alibi.

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Guest

You never fail John pull me me from the serious to laughter I wish I could bottle you and take a sip every now and then.

Guest
R Frost says:
21 April 2017

The iPlayer on Sony TV from 2010 was always rubbish- slow beta version, often not working, then taken away altogether. After looking into options, got a roku stick which I was going to pay £30ish for at Argos, but turned out to be on offer at £20, it’s been fine. If only there was much worth watching on tv, as I’m not interested in crime, hospital or vet dramas, soaps, celebrities or sport. Read recently that the average age of TV viewers is now over 60, not surprised.

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Guest

R. Frost I am over 60 and I dont watch- soaps, crime, dramas, celebrities, hospitals etc but I do watch sport and German satellite TV which doesn’t show the pure rubbish on free view etc but intellectually deep TV that those more accustomed to US Disney World never watch. So dont class all over 60,s the same , as they could say those under 60 have limited needs in the intellectual world and that wouldn’t be true.

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Guest

I’m not sure that’s what was being said, Duncan. Younger people (16 – 30) are generally working hard at their social lives and are in a period where their friends mean a lot more to them than watching TV. But R Frost does have a valid point: TV programme makers chase ratings, and that’s true for BBC as well. Ratings translate into viewer figures, and they therefore make shows which they believe will bring in the numbers. In the case of the 16-30 demographic, however, they are more used to an ‘on demand’ culture where they can watch whatever they want whenever they want, so sitting at home watching TV is often not how they choose to see TV shows. They tend to prefer smart phones and tablets – which don’t generally figure in the viewing statistics.

The other factor is that TV production is a highly competitive game and the young are often the most fiercely competitive, which itself leads to re-runs of formats that have succeeded previously but with added ‘twists’ to make them more challenging and appealing. This is at its worst in the film industry, where the fear of losing billions has created a no-risk approach to taking on new ideas, so we’re seeing only re-hashes of old ideas.

Lord Of the Rings took the industry by surprise and opened the door to a slew of (often wobbly) fantasy movies. But like so much else, what’s produced is controlled by the money men.

Guest
R Frost says:
22 April 2017

Well quite. Much tv is rubbish, younger people generally use a wider range of entertainment options, ergo remaining tv audience age tends to increase.

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Guest

There are some “intellectually deep” TV programmes on some German channels but there is also a lot of utter dross. Their better programmes can be as good as our best TV dramas, documentaries, and current affairs output. In any country, sport is only as good as the games being played but I think the presentation of sport and the enrichment of matches and games by data, graphics, alternative angles and in-picture diagrammatics has reached a peak of sophistication and excitement in the UK as was universally acknowledged during the London 2012 Olympic games. Even late-night darts and snooker can keep you awake nowadays, but angling still struggles to become compulsive viewing.

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Guest

John I was always attracted to the continental film theater in the city where I lived it only showed French/German/ Scandinavian films with deeper meanings that stuck in your mind and made you think at a deeper than surface level about human existence . escapism is all very well from Hollywood but I was more interested in human motives on a physiological level leading on to a spiritual level and beyond. In other words , the meaning of life on this earth which I added to that which I was born with. Its when you refuse to act out a part that you are made to look different from the rest , I refused to conform . Reality to me is a lot more interesting than the non-reality of most western films , for you get the truth and usually it isn’t very nice , because peoples motives are -greed, envy, hatred , avarice and-do as I say -not as I do which I refuse to accept from anybody. behind the beautiful face , full of “innocence ” can hide the most evil person. I feel a great need to expose those that are not what they seem. IF you conform -riches await you as many politicians /pop stars /etc have done and got pats on the back and great media publicity in the process of selling themselves as the “standards of society ” making themselves £millionaires in the process while in reality the general public suffer but that is played down.

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Guest

I’ve never really liked the bulk of the so-called-smart features on my 2011 and 2013 Sony TV and Bluray player. I really only used the BBC iplayer, but that no longer works on either device.

As I can now watch both iPlayer and YouTube using a £10 Sky now TV box, that has provided an effective replacement. I might be tempted to add a decent media PC at some stage. It seems to me that, long term, smart TVs are poor value for money, in the same way that TVs with built in DVD players are.

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Guest

My TV is not a smart TV, so there are no apps to stop working. If I want to watch iPlayer etc. I use my laptop. Occasionally I connect the laptop to the TV with an HDMI lead.

With computers we can update software easily. I suggest we push the manufacturers to design their TVs so that they can be updated in the same way.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Guest

Try an Apple tv box (if you haven’t a;ready). It produces decent pictures from your Apple lap top or iPad.

I much prefer factual programmes, something the BBC (particularly BBC2 and BBC4) does better than most. Quest also provides some interesing programmes – Mark Evans building a helicopter and plane from kits, even Wheeler Dealers is instructive on cars, and there was a series from the USA on woodworking. Programmes that go into some detail and are not simply a superficial docusoap – the approach the Americans seem to take too often.

Guest
Norm says:
23 April 2017

I have a 5 year old Panasonic Smart TV’s. Its one of the early ones and doesn’t have a very good selection of Apps so I have an Amazon Fire stick which has all the catchup channels plus loads more, also the ‘ahem’ other apps that access anything anywhere. I can also use Alexa with the voice remote. Works a treat.

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Guest

I have a smart TV and the All4 app is on it, but I can’t sign in, whereas I can sign in if I use my laptop. Very annoying to have to sign in anyway.

Guest
Cliff Jeal says:
28 April 2017

Panasonic Freesat equipment: TV model TX-L32V10B and Blu-Ray recorder DMR-B5850 . Both these lost all the “On Demand” apps last October. No apology – no uTube, iPlayers for BBC or ITV.
Bought a Humax Freesat recoder to get them all back! Oddly, it finds more channels than the Panasonic gear.

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Guest

Cliff ,unlike Panasonic Humax is a company dedicated to the satellite enthusiast , it has ( depending on model ) a vast array of apps built into it for satellite positioning deep scanning and multiple satellite recognition etc . I use a Technomate bought direct from the company in London a very professional business firm , efficient , excellent delivery arrangements , have been buying from them for a few decades , never let me down. One of the very few companies I recommend. There are different levels of scan in a professional sat box , including “Blind Scan/Search ” which slowly picks up channels other sat boxes whiz by by scanning smaller bandwidths at at time. I have a lot of knowledge on this subject if anybody is interested ?