Box TV channels to extend reach via the internet and Freeview

Box TV has announced it's expanding the reach of its portfolio of channels by making them available online. Three of its channels are being delivered as streamed channels onto the latest generation of Freeview receivers.

The company, a joint venture between Channel 4 and Bauer Media, currently runs seven music channels, six of which are extensions to existing Bauer Media radio and magazine brands.

Viewers who want to watch The Box, Heat, Kiss, Kerrang, Magic, Smash Hits and 4Music are now able to visit the respective channel's website to watch the stations live, following a deal with Simplestream - incidentally one of the partners in Synapse TV, which is currently testing on Freeview and being showcased at this week's Connected TV Summit in London.

On Freeview, a new Connect TV portal has launched for viewers with the latest broadband connected Freeview HD-spec receivers, to be accessed via the red button on 4Music, channel 18. Magic, Kiss and Kerrang TV are available via the portal, which uses the same technology behind other streamed channels already on the platform, including CCTV and Sports Tonight on channels 226 and 227.

In April, Box TV made the move from pay TV to free TV by unencrypting its services on satellite and making them available on Freesat. There is insufficient capacity on Freeview to allow Box TV to deliver extra channels the traditional way via the terrestrial transmitter network. Transmitter company Arqiva's Connect TV platform works around this problem by enabling viewers to receive additional channels on the Freeview EPG via portals linked to the internet. The internet option is also considerably cheaper for broadcasters.

Q&A: Magic, Kiss and Kerrang as Freeview "streamed channels"
When will they launch?
update: since this article was first uploaded, the new red button service for the extra channels on channel 18 has launched.  For those without a compatible receiver (see next question) all services are now streaming online via the respective websites of the channels. Terms and conditions relating to the new Box TV media player, plus tech spec for online streaming are available here (external link). 

Can my Freeview box/TV get the new channels?
If you are able to watch CCTV on channel 226 and Sports Tonight on channel 227, then it is likely that you will be able to watch Magic, Kiss and Kerrang via the new portal, accessed via 4Music.  There isn't an official list of receivers that are compatible yet. Add your comment below to share your experiences of getting the service. (Google account required - e.g. G+ or Gmail)

Why won't my receiver work on these channels? 
Only newer (most 2012 and all 2013 onward models) Freeview HD-spec receivers were designed with broadband connectivity [with] such services in mind.
update: this means that the latest Freeview HD models can launch the portal and connect to the stream on the internet. Older Freeview HD models may be able to access the internet, but weren't designed to link to the internet via such services as the 4Music red button.

Does this mean the channels will be in HD?
No. The only reason why Freeview HD compatible receivers are required is that the newer HD models have to conform to additional connectivity beyond just enabling reception of HD TV channels. The latest Freeview HD receivers also have to be able to connect to the internet and be able to handle "MHEG-IC", a version of the technology used to deliver digital text and red button content, but for portals to internet content.

How come these extra channels are available via 4Music?
4 Music is part of the Box TV group of channels, run in association with Channel 4. Connect TV, which provides other streamed services on Freeview, now offers broadcasters the option to add an internet portal to be accessed via the red button to their existing Freeview channels. Not to be confused with the previous 4Music red button service, which was left over from when the channel was called "The Hits" and offered ringtones for sale alongside a channel toggle function, linking to other Bauer Media (ex-EMAP) stations on Freeview.

Are these channels free?
Yes. However, you'll need to pay for a suitable internet connection (usually more than 2Mbps) for such services to work.

Minor update 23:45

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  1. This service does not work using my TVonics DTR-HD500, as there is no red prompt on 4Music (CH18). If I press red or text buttons, nothing happens. Connect channels are all OK on the TVonics.

    The service doesn't work on my YouView box either. At this rate, they won't have many viewers!

    1. Thanks for your feedback. The service is a good idea, but it is frustrating for consumers when some services work and some don't.
      It's early days and hopefully some adjustments will be made.
      If you have a Google account, and would like to provide updates or have your say, please feel free to comment. This post will stay open for comments until 6th June.

    2. Works really well using samsung series 5 led tv but the space iptv channel does not work

  2. My Panasonic S20 is freezing on the "please hold" screen.
    Contrary to your article, the Ethernet connection is mandated for all Freeview HD kit, however the MHEG-IC streaming extensions were "optional" before 2011(?). The S20 is a 2010 model so nobody seems to care about compatibility with it - Sports Tonight works, as does Racing UK, everything else is (perhaps artificially) blocked. The Space worked when I managed to get into it but has been blocked on this device since launch.

    1. Thanks for the feedback.
      Looking at the analytics for the type of user viewing a516digital, I'm keeping it simple by referring to "the latest Freeview HD" receivers and in the Q&A referring to "newer Freeview HD-spec receivers [that] were designed with broadband connectivity for such services in mind."
      For tech-heads that's those receivers that conform to "DBook 6.2.1." and "such services" meaning MHEG-IC based portals to the internet. Older Freeview HD devices have broadband connectivity - but not necessarily designed with MHEG-IC services in mind. As you say Chris - that functionality was optional but now part of the latest DBook must-have specs.

      For those reading this wondering what on earth is a DBook - simply put, DBook is the "book" of technical specifications to be used by digital terrestrial TV receivers in the UK. The Digital TV Group (DTG) publishes and maintains the DBook.

      There's more interesting reading about MHEG-IC and how Synapse is getting ready to launch at

  3. If this service gets better compatibility then it would be wise for channels to use iptv for +1 channnels it would save them money and free up space for better quality channels to sppear on freeview

  4. Hi my samsung le46c doesnt have the red button option? the tv is plug directly into the router as well

  5. Works great on my new Panasonic Viera smart TV. Welcome back Kerrang !

  6. Sagemcom RT195-500 HD . Only brought Friday. No red button on 4 music and channels 226 and 227 blank screen


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