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

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.

Update 11/03/2019

Pricey TVs losing access to BBC iPlayer is a problem that won’t go away. Our members, as well as people here on Which? Conversation, have told us that the app can go missing for months.

What to do if your Samsung TV has lost BBC iPlayer

The problem isn’t limited to Samsung TVs, but the majority of people notifying us of the issues had a Samsung set.

We believe both Samsung and the BBC need to be more up front about compatbility issues – users should be alerted to the problem, and a relastic timeline of when it can be fixed should be given.

Have you lost access to BBC iPlayer on your TV? Let us know in the comments.

Original convo 19/04/2017

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
Sandra Hind says:
13 April 2020

We have 3 Smart TV’s – Samsung and Panasonic – We have followed every instruction with regards to our Smart TV’s missing key catch-up and on-demand apps + how to install a new App (including dplay). We have spent a lot of our precious time doing this and still have no answers, During this sad time of coronavirus we are in the age group that is over 70. We cannot take our TV back as the TV shops are closed. We must all stay at home at this time. Our individual TV choice of programmes will help massively. Please TV technology teams press the right buttons to give us all in Great Britain automatic updates on our Smart TV’s. I look forward to a response from you!!!!

Pamela says:
22 May 2020

I have a 24 inch Samsung smart tv and forgotten the password and have tried several times to sort it out but whatever I do even what the tv tells me I still can’t get anyone to tell me how to.thank you

Hi Pamela – This. is what I found on the Samsung website:

[TV] How to reset the password?
Last Update Date : May 17. 2018
To solve the issue, please follow the steps below.

1. Switch off the TV using the remote control.
2. Press Mute>8>2>4>Power (from the remote control).

(The buttons needs to be pressed not simultaneously but one after another)

This will reset the TV password to its default password which is 4 zeroes (0000).

https://www.samsung.com/levant/support/tv-audio-video/tv-how-to-reset-the-password/

Linda Burton says:
1 June 2020

I have lost the app for stv player on the on demand screen on panasonic smart tv how do I recover it

Lynn says:
7 June 2020

How do we watch catch up TV on our Panasonic smart tv

John says:
15 June 2020

I’ve had al the apps since I purchased the tv but lately they have all stopped working

Helen says:
23 June 2020

My friend has and LG49If630v 49Inch smart tv she cannot get the STV player app.. this means if she misses Emmerdale she cannot watch it on Catch Up.
Can anyone help me please. Thank you

brendan says:
23 June 2020

just purchased a lg smart tv and cannot find any catch up apps on it . when you look at lg app store on my lap top they are there , but not when you use the tv search !!. it does however have britbox which you have to pay for !!!. will be taking it back to costco if cannot sort . anyone have any help.

Claire Cady-Jones says:
26 June 2020

I have a logik TV and I lost ITV Hub and Freeview 2 days ago and Britbox appeared

cheryl eales says:
29 June 2020

just got new 2020 lg tv,£1299/00 no catch up tv ,really disappointed

Caitlin S says:
7 July 2020

All of the catch up apps on my smart tv have Disappeared
But there is only 5 catch up apps have not disappeared

Gerard Phelan says:
15 August 2020

My 2011 Panasonic Smart TV, model TX-P50GT30B only came with the BBC iPlayer catchup app, but that is still present and working, albeit now S L O W L Y. Connected directly to my Router using Ethernet it takes 1 minute 50 seconds to display the iPlayer Home screen. If I then immediately select Channels and then BBC2 the total time taken is 3 minutes. Once I have found my programme, it plays as it should.

In July 2018 the TV Guide/EPG stopped working as before and thereafter only showed the current and next programme for all channels. I found online that this occurred to many Panasonic TVs. Recordings thus had to be setup using the Menu Timer option, where you specify channel, date and start/stop times. This is unreliable, because broadcasters make late changes to schedules that were printed in listings magazines.

HOWEVER as a demonstration that Panasonic has not abandoned this 2011 TV, in June 2020 it issued a software update, the first since 2013. Described as ‘Improve network applications’ whatever it is doing, it has also restored the TV Guide/EPG.

Glynis Stocks says:
1 September 2020

I have an LG smart tv. Two weeks ago I could not access All 4 and my 5.HELP me please!!!!!!!!

I’ve just bought a new smart TV because the two year old Samsung that never worked very well became worse. We had it on an extension lead so we could unplug it when it froze. The new JVC is two weeks old and I player is starting to get stupid.

Hi Alex – If you have had problems with two smart TVs it is likely that there is a problem with your internet connection. If you are sure that the problem is with the TV rather than your connection you can reject it within 30 days of purchase by following this advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-are-my-rights-when-my-smart-device-stops-working

I’ve just bought a JVC LT32C695. Very disappointed to find how rubbish built in apps are. I can’t understand why this is so covered up. Asking around friends all put up with this situation and buy firestick, now, Raku etc.
I have the Freeview play built in but that relies on installed applications so is equally useless

James Burns says:
6 September 2020

A friend of mine bought a JVC32C345 TV in summer 2016. Today, she asked me to connect it to Britbox. She has a set-top box (made by Humax) through which she gets Freeview Play. Numerous articles on the web claim Britbox is now available via Play, but we couldn’t find any way to make that happen. I rang Britbox’s advice service. They said that JVC smart TVs sold before autumn 2016 don’t have the necessary software — which I think is just the ability to download new apps. So that’s very disappointing.

Hi James, from a quick Internet search, it seems that you are correct to note that Britbox is not currently available on Humax. It is bad luck that your friends TV is just too old to be updated with a britbox app.

If she wants britbox badly enough, then she ought to be able to purchase another add on device for this.

How can the tv manufactures get away with selling a product not fit for purpose.
I have a Panasonic 24 each tv that was purchased 3 yrs ago and had been missing 5 catch up for some time and now has no 3 4 or 5 catch up apps. I have had a repair engineer from Jonah Lewis here today telling me that TVs are built like phones now and are disposable after 2-3 yrs so why are they offering 5 year warrantees on them.
Since when is several hundred pounds TVs a disposable commodity.
And surely this is miss selling on a huge scale as they are selling the products offering these services noing that they are not able to sustain the use through the products life span.

Hi Irene – I agree with you. It is probably harder to take action now that the problem seems to affect all the major brands. I do not know if any consumers have tried taking action against retailers under the Consumer Right Act. Fortunately there are inexpensive solutions if you want to reinstate the apps, as described on earlier pages of this Conversation.

This press statement by the European consumer association BEUC provides hope that action will be taken to address what can only be described as planned obsolescence: https://www.beuc.eu/publications/eu-concludes-reform-stronger-guarantee-rights-consumers-future/html

The EU say – but this is nearly 2 years ago now – “The EU has now established that consumers of smart goods are entitled to software updates. This was important because consumers could sometimes find themselves with a device that worked, but without the updates necessary to keep it secure and functioning properly. It is also a key element to avoid early obsolescence.

It might be argued that the loss of apps on a smart tv does not stop it functioning as a tv, does not cause a security problem and does not make it obsolescent. I am not suggesting it is right, as I commented elsewhere. At least the tv manufacturer should point out, at the time of sale, which apps may not be supported for any length of time.

This is an extract from one of the EU directives. Sorry it is a bit long. Maybe Which? could summarise how it actually applies to smart tvs.
https://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/PE-26-2019-INIT/en/pdf

“(21) Directive (EU) 2019/…

should apply to contracts for the sale of goods, including goods
with digital elements. The notion of goods with digital elements should refer to goods that
incorporate or are inter-connected with digital content or a digital service in such a way
that the absence of that digital content or digital service would prevent the goods from
performing their functions. Digital content or a digital service that is incorporated in or
inter-connected with goods in that manner should fall within the scope of Directive (EU)
2019/…
if it is provided with the goods under a sales contract concerning those goods.
Whether the supply of the incorporated or inter-connected digital content or digital service
forms part of the sales contract with the seller should depend on the content of this
contract. This should include incorporated or inter-connected digital content or digital
services the supply of which is explicitly required by the contract. It should also include
those sales contracts which can be understood as covering the supply of specific digital
content or a specific digital service because they are normal for goods of the same type and
the consumer could reasonably expect them given the nature of the goods and taking into
account any public statement made by or on behalf of the seller or other persons in
previous links of the chain of transactions, including the producer. If, for example, a smart
TV were advertised as including a particular video application, that video application
would be considered to be part of the sales contract. This should apply regardless of
whether the digital content or digital service is pre-installed in the good itself or has to be
downloaded subsequently on another device and is only inter-connected to the good.

 OJ: Please insert in the text the serial number of the Directive contained in document
PE-CONS 27/19 (2015/0288(COD)).
PE-CONS 26/19 EB/NC/sr 12
JAI.2 EN
For example, a smart phone could come with a standardised pre-installed application
provided under the sales contract, such as an alarm application or a camera application.
Another possible example is that of a smart watch. In such a case, the watch itself would
be considered to be the good with digital elements, which can perform its functions only
with an application that is provided under the sales contract but has to be downloaded by
the consumer onto a smart phone; the application would then be the inter-connected digital
element. This should also apply if the incorporated or inter-connected digital content or
digital service is not supplied by the seller itself but is supplied, under the sales contract, by
a third party. In order to avoid uncertainty for both traders and consumers, in the event of
doubt as to whether the supply of the digital content or the digital service forms part of the
sales contract, Directive (EU) 2019/…
should apply. Furthermore, ascertaining a bilateral
contractual relationship, between the seller and the consumer, of which the supply of the
incorporated or inter-connected digital content or digital service forms part should not be
affected by the mere fact that the consumer has to consent to a licensing agreement with a
third party in order to benefit from the digital content or the digital service.

I suspect that we may already have protection under the digital rights of consumers under the Consumer Rights Act, Malcolm. It would certainly be worth a test case.

I don’t think it would be unreasonable for TV apps to be supported for a minimum period of ten years after launch of a model, even if owners did not have access to new apps.

With smart TVs connected to the internet it should be possible to possible to carry out updates as we can with computers.

It would be interesting to know if following this Which? advice has helped owners of Samsung TVs: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/03/what-to-do-if-your-samsung-tv-has-lost-access-to-iplayer/