Offshoot of Indian media group Zee to launch English language service available on Freeview Play TVs and boxes in the UK.
Zee has been active in the UK since the 1990s and is well known for its Hindi-language channels on platforms including Sky and Virgin Media.
But now it is about to launch English-language service Zee World to viewers across the UK. Zee World will join Freeview’s rapidly expanding streaming service on channel 278, available on connected Freeview Play TVs and boxes.
Zee World dubs popular general entertainment shows into English to reach a broader audience. It’s been on air since 2015 in Africa, where it is widely available through the DStv satellite platform, but this is the first time the channel has been spotted in Europe. Zee has previously dubbed shows including Twist of Fate (Kumkum Bhagya), Un…Fortunate Love and Aparajita into English on Zee World.
Ahead of its Freeview launch, Zee World has launched a placeholder for its new service on channel 278. Viewers may need to retune. Unlike traditional Freeview channels, the service will use an HbbTV [hybrid broadcast broadband TV] portal to stream its content onto compatible TVs and boxes.
Zee is expected to confirm further details shortly.
▶ Freeview’s international streaming channels
Freeview has welcomed a number international channels to its HbbTV-based streaming service this year. These include Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Arabiya, Asharq News and WION.
The HbbTV streaming service works by broadcasting a portal alongside the terrestrial broadcast signal of Freeview. Once tuned in, the TV or box will load the portal, where it will be directed to retrieve an online stream of the channel. As the content is streamed, some services do not require an Ofcom broadcast licence.
Streaming channels have existed for over a decade on Freeview. They originally used MHEG-IC technology and had limited reach. However, the use of HbbTV technology, which is supported by the vast majority of smart TVs and the rapid increase in viewers with TVs connected to the internet has helped fuel a boom in popularity among broadcasters wishing to reach Freeview users.
These streaming services are not to be confused with full IP-delivered channels. The BBC launched a number of 720p HD IP-delivered channels earlier this summer. Unlike HbbTV streaming channels, IP-delivered channels do not rely on any portal or any programme data delivered over the terrestrial TV network.