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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

” 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.

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“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.

I found the same with supposedly high customer service ratings for Ovo – I’ve had terrible service from them for own home + rental cottage on about 99 occasions, and one occasion when their service was good! I only stick with them because they have Economy 10 meter & Totally Renewable options.

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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.

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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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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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).

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

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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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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.

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

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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yawn
I wish I was more intellectual so I could appreciate your opinion as much as you seem to.

As for something worth posting here:
ITV Player has now been removed from Panasonic Freetime TVs. I’m not sure Freetime really got much of a hold in the market and I guess Panasonic’s move to Freeview Play is quite telling but it is quite frustrating to find perfectly functioning hardware becoming obsolete because of software life cycles. I guess it’s something we need to start to get used to as technology becomes more consumable and less of a long term asset.
Grrr those damned capitalist pigs with their planned obsolescence who seek to ensure I am dissatisfied with my Panasonic TV and am forced to go out and buy their brand again…

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.

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.

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.

Ch 19 on freeview is ace too – think it’s called ‘Yesterday’ – has Impossible Engineering, Abandoned Engineering, Impossible Railways etc – brilliant stuff!

Ta for the Apple Box suggestion as my laptop’s a Mac – tho I used to enjoy catch-up TV with a 1 pint mug of tea in my hand, and that probably wouldn’t be a good idea on the Mac …

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.

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.

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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Yes, I’d be – tho I’d need to buy a new one.

Most of the apps on our Samsung television are little used, but I was really miffed when the Skype option disappeared three months after purchasing a dedicated Samsung webcam. Turns out that this was due to Microsoft buying Skype and deciding not to support it (allegedly)…took several letters and evidence of purchase to eventually get my money back for the webcam from Samsung (completely useless as it it incompatible with anything else)

My samsung tv does not support Skype anymore, although we were sold a webcam to go with it.
Have been trying to solve the problem by purchasing a android tv box & down loading Skype onto it, but the problem then is that you cannot get a webcam that is compatible with both android & Skype.
Any ideas ?

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Nick Hancock says:
10 May 2017

Stop press: All 4 appeared this week on my 2016 Samsung Smart TV, following a software update. So we now have all the terrestrial TV catch up apps. If you still can’t see it, you may need to update the software on your set.

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I’ve just added a s/h [£10 🙂 ] Android “set top box” to my Sony TV.

So far it seems to be ok-ish for YouTube and BBC iPlayer.

…and it also works on here 🙂

L Pate says:
25 October 2017

I have been very satisfied with my Samsung smart TV since we bought it a couple of years ago as it has all the apps we needed – I TV Hub, All4 etc, so when my hubby decided we needed a larger TV and bought a shiny new Blaupunkt ‘smart’ TV I was excited to see what it could do. I was shocked to find that the only apps it had installed were BBC based apart from Netflix & YouTube. Even worse when I contacted their support team to find out what we could do about it and was told the only way to do it was to use our mobiles, laptops etc to cast to it or buy one of the boxes or sticks you can use as an add on. I could understand it if it was an old TV but we had only had it a week. Needless to say I will be watching more catch-up programs on my Samsung in the bedroom than before and won’t be buying Blaupunkt again!

had tv catch up on L.G. tv. bought in 2016 but now it will only load but not show
any channels…best advice is buy a dumb tv then you will not be disappointed

I bought a smart tv for the first time today . A toshiba 32l3753db with freeview play. I am a little confused as it seems that I still need an antenna to watch tv on the bbci player and all4 app. I can watch netflix and youtube etc but when I try to watch the bbci player it states my tv must first be tuned in. I am now having to use the amazon fire stick which seems really odd considering .. Am i doing something wrong?

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Andy – if your Netflix and YouTube are working, you have successfully connected your TV to your broadband.

So if you have a problem with BBC iPlayer, it is probably not down to lack of a broadband connection. On a PC, iPlayer just works via the internet – no aerial or terrestrial digital tv service is needed.

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Andy / Duncan – I didn’t say it wasn’t a connectivity problem of some kind.

I was just offering the benefits of my experience that (i) as Andy suggested, iPlayer out not to need a tuned-in TV and (ii) if YouTube is working, then it is not likely to be a local wifi problem either.

So when Duncan said “It is also possible that what they mean by an antenna ( aerial ) is that an external one is plugged into the wi-fi connection on the TV to communicate with your router/modem/computer ” that sounded like poor advice to me.

However, I agree that the problem might be the need for a software update on the TV, to ensure that the latest iPlayer app is installed.

Unlike YouTube, the BBC are notorious for releasing “non-backwards-compatible” changes to iPlayer, so that TVs cannot play it unless updates are rolled out by their manufacturers.

On the odd occasions when I do watch BBC iPlayer, I do find that it is significantly unreliable, so shows often fail to play at all or completely. Both YouTube and Netflix seem to do better than that.

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Duncan – my point was simply that, to watch YouTube, you oonly need a working internet connection. If you have a working internet connection, then BBC iPlayer should work too – no other connections should be required. At least, that is how things work on my DVD player and on my NowTV box (etc…).

Even with a FreeSat box, I believe you’d still need an internet connection to watch iPlayer – or at least that’s what the BBC website (www bbc co uk iplayer help television_iplayer ) says.

Richard says:
8 December 2017

Mine has nothing, I go to on demand and it says I must be connected to the internet, which I am. So doesn’t work at all. I can watch iPlayer from the app and YouTube that’s it nothing else, all for £300, total rip off. Panasonic btw AVOID.

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Our Panasonic smart TV, only three years old, has just lost the ITV catch up app. What a rip-off.

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I bought a then top of the range Panasonic TV a few years ago which has Freesat and Freeplay and built in Skype camera. Now in 2018 I find ITV channels don’t work on Freeplay going back in time and the ITV Hub has been discontinued too. Skype got discontinued a while back by Microsoft also. Moral is don’t buy Panasonic if you expect any future-proofing and don’t trust Microsoft. OK so tell me something new I hear you say. How difficult can it really be to at least support tech for a few years? Now don’t bother much with ITV – too many adverts anyway – so their and Panasonic’s loss.

From what has been posted by others, it does not seem to matter which brand of TV you choose.

I got smart with my Smart TV I gave it away Now no longer have or watch all the rubbish seen all the time on all TV