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Eye on Demand | June 24, 2017

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UKTV Play Review

UKTV Play Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
5.5
User Interface
4
Content on Offer
7
Device Availability
3
Mobile, AirPlay & Chromecast
2
4.3

Just The Beginning

UKTV, the television network made famous for its repeats, now has its own on-demand service, UKTV Play. The big question is, is there more to this service than just convenient access to repeats of shows which were already repeated in the first place?

UKTV originally started life as UK Gold, a joint project between BBC Enterprises, ITV’s Thames Television and Cox Enterprises, but eventually evolved into what we know today as UKTV, and run by BBC Worldwide along with Scripps Networks Interactive. The whole concept back at the beginning is still not terribly different today – essentially a reruns platform for popular and classic British television.

In a way, this was the prelude to on-demand. By rotating repeats around the clock, people could easily catch-up on the shows that they previously had missed, or simply watch again.

Only three of UKTV’s ten channels are up for on-demand however, and it should come as no surprise they are only the free-to-air ones as well; Dave, Really and Yesterday. But even limiting to these three channels, UKTV Play had no less than 127 different series up for streaming, with each having a variable range of episodes including some entire box-sets – Not too bad when you look at many free catch-up services from other parts of the world such as North America or Australia.

UKTV Play is still very much in its infancy, with a platform base that goes no further than iOS and web browsing (well, excluding YouView integration that is), which is pretty basic in anyone’s books. No Chromecast support, nothing on Roku, Now TV box, Apple TV, Samsung Smart Hubs, Gaming consoles or even Android, although UKTV Play promises Android support soon – albeit proceeded by the dreaded words so common with Android: “only on selected devices”, which basically means not on your phone or tablet.

UKTV Play are surprisingly thin on features as well, lacking any form of Watchlist or episode management, Closed Captions, IPTV Live Streams, Cross-Platform Support and certainly no Offline mode.

But it is early days, and hopefully UKTV Play will add to their platform lineup and support more features in the coming months.

 

  • UKTV Play lets you know exactly what market it’s aimed at with their URL, containing the United Kingdom’s abbreviation no less than three times: http://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk. If you think this will lead you to a website offering the latest episodes from Mongolian state television, you should be banned from using the Internet.

    Overall, the website is pleasant, clean and well laid out, where content can easily be found via Channel, A-Z, Collections and even an EPG tab, which shows the linear television schedule along with access to available on-demand content.

    Outside of browsing and video playback however, there is not a lot else you can do with it as there are no advanced features here. In fact, there are no basic features either. This is one of those rare examples of using modern technology where resorting to age old methods are still required. So make sure you keep a pencil and paper handy as you will need it to keep track of which episodes you are currently watching, and which shows.

    As for playback quality, UKTV Play offers what should be standard definition streams of 1620kbps* averaged from our own tests. Despite that rather pleasant figure, video quality still looked a little blocky at full-screen. At this bitrate, the video should be sharper than it actually is and for that reason, it appears lower than standard definition.

    Platform Pros:

    • Clean, uncluttered UI.
    • Resume feature.

    Platform Cons:

    • No HD streams (Video a little blocky).
    • No live streams.
    • No Watchlist.
    • No Episode Management.
    • No Chromecast support.
    • No Closed Captioning (subtitles).
    • Not the most sofa friendly.

    (Accessing UKTV Play outside of the UK or Ireland may require a good Smart DNS or VPN service)

    Catch-up BUTTONSub SD BUTTONResume BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18153″]

     

  • Due to technical reasons, we were not able to fully review the iOS app at this stage. However, we can say that outside of mirroring, it does not provide native AirPlay support.

    Keep Calm iPad

  • UKTV Play launches itself onto the UK’s on-demand world with a very basic feature-set, along with one of the smallest number of supported platforms yet experienced at Eye on-Demand HQ.

    The whole newness factor comes into play here of course, which means things can only really get better from this point onwards, but being new can’t excuse every omission found with this service. Especially as the whole concept of on-demand television has been around for a while now, and benchmarks elsewhere have well and truly been set.

    What we’d like to see above anything else is a little more platform support. Granted, there is the option of YouView, but not everyone has that system. And without it, it is extremely difficult to watch UKTV Play on a real television. perhaps the Now TV/Roku box or Amazon Fire TV would be a good place to start, then improved video quality and adding proper episode management.

    At the end of the day though, it’s all about content, and UKTV Play really does have quite a few shows up for grabs, with some real gems to be found in their library.

    If all you want to do is catch up on the odd television show from Dave, Really or Yesterday, UKTV Play will certainly do the job, although it may be hard to actually enjoy from the sofa unless you also own a YouView box.

    Pros:

    • Free.
    • Good range of content from three of UKTV’s channels.
    • Resume feature.

    Cons:

    • No HD.
    • SD video a little blocky.
    • Poor platforms support.
    • Lack of standard features like Watchlists or Closed Captioning.
    • No Cross-platform support.
    • No Chromecast support.
    • No native AirPlay support.
    • No offline downloads.
    • No Live streams.
    • No Episode Management.

    Technical Details:

    • Available on iOS, web and YouView boxes.
    • Programmes generally only available for 7 days after broadcast (with some longer exceptions).
    • Officially available only in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

    Catch-up BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Sub SD BUTTON Resume BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    Log:

    20.11.2014: Review published. Score 4.3 – Just The Beginning

     

    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

     

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Comments

  1. armstrong

    does anyone know when uktv play is going to be available on samsung smart tv?

    • Gosh… I wish I could answer that. Companies rarely tell the public what their platform plans are. But I am one who is also waiting for new platforms to be supported by UKTV Play.

  2. charedoss

    Have you tried Allavsoft? It is great to Download videos from UKTV Play and convert the downloaded videos to MP4, AVI, WMV, MKV, MOV, FLV and any popular video format.