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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

Why have I suddenly lost my itv hub, more4 and 5 catch up on my smart Panasonic tv, if I try to connect to “on demand” it tells my I need to be connected to the internet, but I am as I get BBC iplayer from apps, but no way to get the catch up from the apps,also no problem with Netflix. Settings tell me I’m up to date.

Carol Shuttleworth says:
3 January 2021

Bought a new LG tv before Christmas and discovered the 2020 models do not have ITV hub, solved the problem my connecting a BT box that I haven’t used for a while, can now get everything and use the box as a recorder. I assumed wrongly that all new smart TVs came with everything

Wendy vezey says:
28 January 2021

I am having exactly the same problem

Dave says:
5 January 2021

Jan 202. lost bbc iplayer, itv hub, more4 and 5, on my android philips tv. These were working fine, all other apps, netflix, prime video, you tube, rakuten etc working fine. Did a speed test using a tv speed test app and got over 40mbps so that should be good for 4k tv

Bette Spry says:
9 January 2021

Bought samsung smart tv late 2020 and frequently lose all4 and sometimes bbc iplayer. Really irritating

Gordon says:
14 January 2021

Just bought a LG 55 in ty, no ITV Hub, All 4, or Ch5 catch up, have contacted John Lewis, seems this is due to LG not paying for licence. Will see what John Lewis customer services respond

Michele Burnley says:
22 February 2021

Just purchased LG TV from John Lewis using Which October 2020 recommendation. No mention regarding loss of ITV, All4 and Mytv apps. Very frustrating. Did not check reviews on John Lewis website as relied on Which and had bought an LG tv 15 months previously with all catchup present. Contacted JL no help as this is our fault for not reading the product information. Judging from the reviews on their website neither had a number of people who complained they would not have bought LG had they known the situation.

Hi Michele,
Which LG model did you buy?

Aled says:
29 January 2021

Just lost All 4 on my Samsung TV and can not find any information online on how to restore it…

My Samsung TV did exact same on 29th. So annoying. I’m hoping it appears back on soon. I managed to watch my programme on my IPhone

stanley says:
1 February 2021

Hi, wondering if All4 ever appeared again?

Gillian says:
31 January 2021

Same thing happened to my Samsung TV lost All4 – did some googling and apparently it has been removed from 2011 and 2012 Samsung TVs – mine is 2012!

Malcolm says:
1 February 2021

The exact same happened to my 2012 Samsung Smart TV on or about 29th January 2021. I also lost my5 about 3 months ago.

David says:
31 January 2021

Lost All4 today as well on Samsung TV. TV was made around 2011. Very irritating! Hope it reappears.

Andy says:
31 January 2021

Lost All4 yesterday on Samsung TV. Bought April 2014 so annoying.

e hayter says:
1 February 2021

lost my 5 and all 4 on my samsung tv. why do they think they can just do this in these difficult times we are all relying on our tv,s. makes me want to rethink when i buy or advise someone to buy a new television, leave samsung well alone, samsung get your house in order or your customers will go somewhere else.

Thanks for sites like these !
I realise now that I’m not the only one.
I lost My5 few weeks ago and then All 4 over weekend just gone, during an update !
LAST TIME I’m buying a SAMSUNG … this is a disgrace.
Will be warning friends about this.

Here is advice from Which? about what to do if apps stop working: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/televisions/article/what-to-do-if-your-tv-has-lost-access-to-streaming-apps-aWBB64o9gA5s

The final paragraph says:
“Details of our survey

We surveyed 2,050 members of the GB general public online in April 2019.

We asked what apps they had lost access to, how many times they had lost access, and how long they had lost access for to gauge the scale of the issue.”

Would it be possible to share the results of this survey?

Olga says:
4 February 2021

The same happened to me. I lost channel 5 months ago and recently All 4.
I used to buy everything Samsung, tvs, laptops, phones, never again.
Olga

Georgina hawkins says:
4 February 2021

Hi I have lost every thing to do with catch up for a few months now and I cant get on my app like u tube and Netflix as it come up with the catch up button on my tv I have a Hitachi any one that can help

I’m looking for a new TV at this very moment and noticed a lot of manufacturers are vague to say the least on this subject. Are there any Tv’s that don’t suffer from this problem ?
Thanks Paul

I am not aware of any brand of TV that does not have the problem, Paul. With mobile phones, buying a recent model will help to ensure that you will get security updates for longer. I don’t know if the same applies to TVs.

Whatever you decide to do it would be worth learning about the ways in which the smart features of TVs can be restored, which some people have mentioned in the discussion, so that you know what to do when the problem arises.

I have a bush smart tv everything is fine except when i use the itv catch up the sound goes off just before the adds are due and then there is a crackling noise right through the adds then it’s ok again this is very fustrating as it spoils the show

I’ve lost My5 and All4 from my Samsung. When I contacted samsung on their customer service they said my tv is not able to support the new updates software used by these channels. It’s ridiculous- nothing at all wrong with the tv, why should I buy a new one just so we have the right software. Is there a dongle we can get to get these channels back?

It is ridiculous but no action was taken when the problem with smart TVs was discovered and now it does not seem to matter which brand you buy. Fortunately there are inexpensive solutions that will restore the functionality of your TV. Just look through the previous five pages for suggestions, Bex.

Isn’t this like keeping any software up to date, whether on a tv, pc, phone. As long as the core device retains its functionality – normal tv programmes, for example – can we expect software and apps to be supported for ever? However, I do think there should be a minimum time from purchase that they should be supported; we’ve discussed this particularly recently for mobile phones. 2 years is far too short for some androids.

As wavechange says there are inexpensive ways of linking your tv with 3rd party devices. I also use an Apple tv box to put my iPad on the big screen. All4 and My5 are available there.

I use an Apple TV to allow my non-smart TV to display anything that can be seen on my Apple laptop or iPhone. How long the Apple TV will remain supported I do not know.

The smart TV purchased last year for my girlfriend’s daughter is impressive in its own right but will also work as a wireless display for a PC. So even if its Web browser and other apps get out of support, it should only need an in support PC to keep it going.

I hope so, Derek. My thoughts are that smart TVs could include an inexpensive standard module that could be replaced by users when it becomes obsolete. I wonder if manufacturers could be persuaded to go down this route.

I bought a smart TV (LG) on Black Friday from Curry’s which was finally delivered in early January. Very upset to discover that the only catch-up service I have is BBC i-player. I feel like I have wasted rather a large sum of money!!

Lorraine – If your new TV does not perform ‘as described’ then you have rights of redress under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Check the advertising material and any product literature that led to your purchase. If the TV has not been satisfactory from the day you took possession then the fault will be presumed to be present at the time of purchase for which you have six months to claim a full refund or replacement. See the following Which? guidance on exercising your rights but carefully note the timescales for the different remedies –
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

Unless the fault was reported within 30 days of purchase the retailer could offer Lorraine a repair if this is practical, which would depend on the nature of the problem.

Quite so. After thirty days and during the first six months of ownership there is an important qualification that [quoting from the linked guidance] “during this time, it’s up to the retailer to prove that the fault wasn’t there when you bought it – it’s not up to you to prove that it was. If an attempt at repair or replacement has failed, you have the right to reject the goods for a full refund, or price reduction if you wish to keep the product.”

michele says:
9 February 2021

JVC SMART TV HAS LOST ALL THOSE YOU MENTION BELOW AND TELLS ME TO CHECK MY NETWORK BOX. I HAVE. I HAVE TURNED IT ALL OFF AND ON AGAIN. CHECKED EVERYTHING TO NO AVAIL. ALSO WILL NOT RECORD AND PLAY BACK…..

I’ve recently lost the All4 hub on my Samsung tv, 2018 model.
Very disappointing and no clues from All4 or Samsung as to how to resolve it.
I’ll try rebooting the SmartHub but what a complete faff.

I bought two LG TVs in summer 2020, a small one for the kitchen and a larger one for the sitting room. The small tv has the usual ‘suite’ of iPlayer/itv hub/channel 4 etc but these channels cannot be installed on the large tv. Surely these channels are regarded as a basic set for UK viewers. No warning from Curry’s that this would be the case.