So Freesat have launched a TV campaign to promote their new <freetime> service (see the ad here on YouTube). This prompted us to continue our analysis of the differences between Freesat <freetime> and YouView. In our previous blog post about this (see Comparing Freesat to Youview) we pointed out that the two products have very different target markets so weren’t really competitive and shouldn’t be compared directly.
However, it was interesting to explore their different approaches to some complex market issues. The launch of the ad campaign highlights two more areas where they have taken a fundamentally different approach: branding and relations with Sky.
Firstly branding. The new Freesat TV campaign shows that Freesat management decided to make the new service brand <freetime> subservient to the main platform brand, Freesat. This means that the new product is quite clearly ‘<freetime> from Freesat.’ The service branding sits within the overall Freesat brand architecture, and is presented graphically as part of the Freesat family. This neatly locates it as one of a suite of products available on the Freesat platform.
This differs from YouView, where the new service brand has, to a certain extent, usurped the Freeview platform brand. So rather than ‘the new YouView service from Freeview’, we get YouView INSTEAD of Freeview. This would make some sense if Freeview was being retired as a brand and TV proposition. But this isn’t the case and, incredibly, Freeview are still advertising on TV. Last weekend Freeview ran a TV campaign for their Freeview box with iPlayer, in the same break as a TalkTalk one for YouView (with..er..iPlayer)? So comparing Freesat to YouView is wrong because it is not an ‘apples to apples’ comparison – Freesat is a platform, while Youview is a software spec. If anything the comparison should be between <freetime> to YouView with a single marketing campaign.
For the poor consumer, this is layer upon layer of unnecessary brand confusion. It would have been simpler and more logical to make YouView a service brand extension of Freeview. Wouldn’t it be lovely if both ‘free-to-air’ platforms could have shared a service brand so we could then have ‘<freetime> from Freeview’.
A second significant difference between Freesat <freetime> and YouView is in their relationship to Sky. Freesat is clearly a direct competitor to Sky and explicitly tries to win over its customers. We therefore don’t anticipate that Sky will be loading their services on Freesat anytime soon. With Freeview / YouView, the relationship is much more complex as Sky is a Freeview shareholder and runs free to air channels on the Freeview platform.
YouView was originally set up as a separate organisation, specifically because of Sky’s shareholding in Freeview. It was felt that they would block any intelligent platform evolution that could make Freeview more competitive to the Sky platform. The initial assumption in the market was that Sky would be therefore be taking a similar position with YouView as it did with Freesat and its early submissions to the regulators were distinctly hostile. However, its position has significantly changed and its NOW TV proposition was the first 3rd party OTT app onto the YouView platform.
With the launch of the TalkTalk box, we can also now access Sky’s pay channels like Sky1, Sky Living and Sky Sports via a Youview box. This means that, unlike Freesat’s <freetime> service, which is most definitely a ‘Sky-free zone’, on YouView you can now get free to air Sky channels, pay Sky channels, and on-demand Sky content. So much for keeping Sky out of YouView? It would almost appear that Sky have decided to co-opt the YouView project for its own purposes. Which begs the question of why YouView needed a separate, Sky-free, management structure in the first place?