/ Technology

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

I recently had an email from TV5Monde informing me of two new apps I could download. But I could not find them. Turns out my TV is too old to run them. It’s a 2016 Samsung. This is ridiculous. And reading other comments on here buying a new set would not necessarily mean I could download them. Very disappointing.

STEPHEN HOLT says:
1 March 2021

i cannot get all 4 and my 5 on my 3d samsung tv and i haven’t got an explanation how to rectify

Keith Bryant says:
1 March 2021

No all 4 or uktv on Nvidia shield android tv. Iplayer, itv & my 5 are working though.

Some people have suggested this would be illegal. Not so. The two new apps from TV5Monde are available on all new Samsung sets and other sources. Pre 2017 Samsung sets cannot play the apps. But they are on the firestick. My question was if I get the firestick will they play on a ore 2016 Samsung TV

James says:
4 March 2021

Purchased during lockdown, with no opportunity to view beforehand anywhere, my new LG OLED tv does not have ITV hub, and UkTV play. I wish had known that before purchase because I didn’t know I had to ask that question. I would have stayed with my 10 year old Panasonic with its Firestick. Very disappointed. Plus what I didn’t know is, while the screen image can be very good (on well captured content) in a darkened room, but it is appalling in the darkest corner of the room during daytime. Again, not a patch on the plain old back lit LED Panasonic. Doubly disappointed.

Robert Greenaway says:
7 March 2021

I have a samsung smart tv (ue 40es5500) which has lost channel 4 and 5 on catch up. if samsung are going to continue with this sort of service to its customers it will lose customers ,me being one of them.
After all that’s why we purchased a smart tv.

Sadly, all brands of TVs seem to be affected by the same problem, Robert. There are some ways that you could watch your catch-up services and there are some suggestions on other pages of this Conversation.

@gmartin – Hi George – Please could you ask for an article for the benefit of those whose smart TVs have stopped working properly.

D Davies says:
12 March 2021

I have 2018 model Samsung Smart tv that has ceased playing All 4 for no apparent reason. It opens and plays adverts ad Infiniti’s, but the screen just goes black when programme content should play. I’ve tried all avenues for support, both all4 and Samsung but no-one is interested.
I’m furious!!

I bought my Samsung Smart TV in January 21. Every app works except ALL4. I have spent 5 hours on line to Samsung: removing and reinstating the app, smart hub, updating software and remotely doing everything to no avail. They suggest it is ALL4’s issue. I can load and play it on my lap top.
This problem is not covered by any guarentees from the retailer or the product maker but by the app developer. I have emailed ALL4 but no response.
Has anyone got any other way of contacting ALL4? Or had success any other way?

John says:
23 March 2021

My UKTV disappeared yesterday from my TV.
I had been watching a programme the day before and paused it to continue later but the app has gone.
Spent ages trying to get it back and gave up.

Geraldine Nora says:
29 March 2021

Even worse than losing some of the i-player features we were promised when we bought our Samsung TV (2016ish, Currys PC World), the salesman also persuaded us to buy a Freesat “Humax” to go with it, so that we would have scrollback ‘catchup’ and recording capability, telling us we would be able to record several programs at the same time, it turned out we could not record and watch something else simultaneously on the Humax.
AI? Ha! We can’t even make true “Smart” TV’s yet!

Hi Geraldine – Here is some advice from Which? about the Consumer Rights Act: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product-aTTEK2g0YuEy

“Fit for purpose The goods should be fit for the purpose they are supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to buy the goods.”

It’s a few years ago but I recall asking a retailer about the suitability of a product. They helpfully produced the instructions for the display model and that did not help, but I was assured it would be suitable. Unfortunately it would not do what I needed it to do, so I had no problem returning the product a few days later despite having used it. I did not have anything in writing (which would have been a sensible thing to do) but the salesman remembered me when I went back. This could have helped you return your Freesat box but getting any brand of TV to retain its apps for long seems to have no simple solution.

I struggle to understand why Which best buys are consistently LG TV. IMO all LG TV’s should instantly be marked down 10 point due to their appalling recording of catch up apps. It all very well saying well over a year ago that LG was fixing the problem and they were”common”.. but they haven’t fixed this and as a supposed organisation focusing on the consumer which shoul be highlighting the fact that all new LG TV’s do not come with all the catch-up apps and haven’t done for well over a year.. and stop being putting them as best buys. Sound and picture are drivers for purchasing a TV but if that was all people wanted they wouldn’t buy smart TV’s

Susan says:
9 April 2021

Very disappointed with my new LG 4K smart TV (LG43UN75006LB) due to lack of basic apps – More 4, My5, Freeview Player, CBS Catch-Up, etc. Already own a couple of older models and never had this issue before but will never buy this brand again. A complete waste of money!!! Feel as though I’ve been duped. Cannot return TV to Curry’s because I didn’t discover this problem until I’d installed TV. (NB: Have also posted this comment on Trust Pilot)

Neil Annetts says:
10 April 2021

I would like to lose BBC iPlayer from my TV it was on what I got it and I do not want it I can’t find a way to remove it

From other comments in this Conversation it may well disappear without you doing anything. Why is it a problem?

I am guessing it might be what Neil sees on the screen every time the TV is switched on.

If we knew the make and model number, we might be able to help with a different landing screen.

Maureen says:
19 April 2021

Today I contacted Samsun helpline I had lost all the streaming channels,I spoke to Daniel and a short time later after following his instructions every thing was back to normal and I could access all.
Thank you to all Daniel enlisted to help.