Paywizard and Digital UK – The Journey So Far

Back in 2004, the UK government first announced plans for the digital switchover from analogue to digital TV, to provide consumers with access to 40 free-to-air terrestrial TV channels via Freeview. Digital UK – a not-for-profit company which supports the UK’s terrestrial TV service and its viewers – selected Paywizard in 2007 to deliver customer support and assistance during each regional roll out as 26.7million people in the UK re-tuned their TVs and gained access to new services. Although the digital switchover was completed in October 2012, Digital UK and Paywizard are still actively working in partnership to expand and improve the service for customers today.

Countless Choices for Consumers

As the largest project in broadcasting history in the UK, the switch to digital offered consumers more channel choices, more content, on-screen programme guides, improved recording, subtitles, audio descriptions for the visually impaired, digital radio stations and interactive services. Digital UK selected Paywizard, an experienced partner to help communicate these monumental changes to consumers in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales.

Over the past few years the service has continued to expand, offering consumers even more choices as time goes on. 2015 saw the launch of Freeview Play, the subscription-free connected TV service that combines catch-up and on-demand services with live TV, thereby enabling viewers to play back the TV they’ve missed directly from the TV guide. This now comes as standard across a range of TVs and set-top boxes and is available on more than 20 leading TV brands with more planning to follow suit, while also meeting the growing demand for OTT. In fact, according to Parks Associates, 30% of broadband households in the UK now subscribe to OTT video services like Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime.

Now with up to 15 free HD channels available, Freeview has surpassed the 100 million mark for the number of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) TVs and boxes sold since its launch in 2002, according to GfK. The figure includes all televisions, set-top boxes and DVD and Blu-ray devices with an inbuilt Freeview DVB-T SD or HD tuner. Moreover, dozens of new services have joined the platform. These include Blaze, Quest Red, STV 2 and 31 local radio stations that are available in different regions across the country. Digital UK has also updated its policies to be more flexible for providers who manage their portfolios on Freeview, making it even easier to join.

Continued Service to the Community

Since its humble beginnings, TV in the UK has gone from analogue to digital, linear to time-shifted, Single Definition to High Definition and now from digital to a connected TV world with Freeview Play. With all of these advancements, comes the need for a great deal of customer support. Since the completion of the switchover in 2012, Paywizard has provided advice and support for Freeview viewers who need help with re-tuning, have queries about the service, or need technical assistance.

Paywizard continues to run the Freeview Advice Line, handling more than 8,000 calls per month, with 76,000 viewers helped through telephone, email and web chat in 2016, and 9 out of 10 issues resolved through simple retuning advice and referrals to manufacturers and installers. We also employ social media listening and outreach techniques to proactively communicate with customers via Facebook and Twitter. A critical component to the success of the digital switchover, Paywizard is pleased to continue its support of the Freeview Advice Line and the entire UK digital TV community.

More recently and until 2020, we are helping Digital UK with the 700MHz clearance. Ofcom announced in 2014 its decision to reallocate some of the airwaves used by Freeview to mobile services and as result, some Freeview channels will need to move to new frequencies. Already running the Freeview Advice Line, we have massively increased our resources and staff to accommodate the increase in calls and support needed by customers.

The Journey Continues

Working on any switchover project is a challenging process and we’re proud to continue supporting Digital UK, and delighted with all we have accomplished so far on this journey.

For more information on how we can help support digital switchovers before, during and after, get in touch.