In a recent update that may disappoint many, BT TV announced that… Monday 6 Novembercustomers using its service will not be able to fast forward through ad breaks on ITV channels while in online mode – even when these programs are recorded.
This change is in line with the functionality of ITV’s own streaming app, ITVX, but undoubtedly reduces the user experience for BT TV customers who are used to easily skipping ads on their recordings.
The BT TV boxes in question, specifically PTTV Box 4K Pro And the Mini boxoffers an Internet Mode feature, allowing users to stream Freeview channels directly from the Internet, an option that avoids the need for a traditional antenna.
This feature has been introduced In 2022 as a modern solution for those with poor air reception or those who simply prefer a simplified broadband-based solution for watching TV.
Streaming Freeview channels over broadband has become a standard feature of pay TV subscriptions – Sky offers the same with its subscriptions Skystream square (f Sky Glass TV), and Virgin Media offers Freeview over broadband Its streaming box also.
However, BT TV boxes have a unique feature that is missing from all other streaming devices, namely recording.
While Sky Glass/Stream can record some content to the cloud, and stream other content on demand – BT TV boxes can record Freeview channels directly to the device’s hard drive – even when they’re being streamed over broadband.
Of course, this also means that viewers can then be served ads quickly – something they can’t do on Virgin Media or Sky (although Sky does offer a paid add-on to skip ads).
But now – things are changing for BT customers on ITV.
No more skipping ads on ITV
From 6 November, BT TV customers (who may soon get… Become EE TV customers) Using the service to watch ITV channels is changing.
According to information provided by BT, the update aims to “prevent skipping ad breaks using pause and fast-forward options when watching live broadcasts or recordings.”
You will still be able to pause, fast-forward and rewind ITV programmes, but you will not be able to fast-forward during adverts;
The main point of this change is of course to prevent viewers from skipping previous adverts when they watch live shows or recorded programs using online mode on BT TV.
This change makes BT TV’s online mode work more like ITV’s streaming app, ITVX.
ITVX is ITV’s live streaming app Which replaces the ITV Hub, and allows you to watch their shows via broadband (both on-demand and live).
In the standard version of ITVX, which is free, you cannot fast forward ads. If you don’t want to watch ads, you have to pay £5.99 a month for ITVX Premium, the subscription version of the app (which also Adds premium content from BritBox And Studio channel).
Now, BT TV is making its online mode work in a similar way, at least when you’re watching ITV channels.
This is a big change because previously, BT TV customers could easily skip past adverts in recorded programmes, something many people would love to do.
Now, it will work like ITVX where you have to watch ads unless you pay for the ad-free version.
It’s not clear at the moment whether those subscribed to ITVX Premium will continue to see ads on BT TV recordings – it’s possible they may have to use the ITVX app to skip the ads.
However, this change, possibly brought about by ITV, could be a way to encourage more people to sign up for ITVX Premium if they want to avoid watching ads.
It’s a way for ITV to make more money from subscriptions, or from advertising which helps keep the content free.
However, this new rule may not appeal to some viewers who liked the way things were before.
Those who continue to watch ITV via an antenna on BT TV will be able to continue recording and fast-forwarding adverts as before – but some people can’t use an antenna, because reception in their area is poor – which was the whole point of the online mode.
Also, at the moment, Other Freeview channels on BT TV’s online mode It will continue to operate as before – but others may follow ITV’s lead in the future.
No ad skipping on Freeview: Is there a hint of things to come?
With the coming Freely launches in 2024A shift toward more Internet-based television is on the horizon.
Described as the streaming successor to Freeview and Freesat, Freely aims to deliver live TV over broadband, merging traditional and modern viewing experiences.
A new restriction on skipping ads on BT TV and ITV may indicate how ads are handled on Freely.
If a live recording is not shown, and ad skipping is disabled, viewers may have to adapt to a more structured, less flexible viewing experience.
As broadcasters explore ways to monetize, control over ad skipping appears to be tightening.
The ease of skipping and recording ads has always been a valuable feature for many viewers (though, let’s not forget again that ads are how many of these channels can sustain themselves).
If Freely adopts a similar approach to BT TV and ITV, the core of traditional TV viewing could be weakened further, making the streaming service less attractive to those who prefer more hands-on control over their viewing experience.