One of the theoretical benefits of the much-maligned Freeview alliance — the grouping of commercial networks which so far hasn't offered much more than a heavily-delayed EPG which is only supported by a handful of set-top boxes — is the notion that Freeview might provide a centralised catch-up service for watching programs online, similar to Hulu in the US. That idea is still theoretically on the drawing board, but don't expect it to happen any time soon.
Freeview CEO Robin Parkes told AdNews last week that introducing any kind of catch-up service was likely to be delayed by a number of factors and certainly wouldn't happen in 2011:
It's not just about the networks getting together. There are so many external factors – unmetered downloads, the NBN and so-on. I expect it won't be this year
As an argument, that's not particularly convincing. After all, the ABC's iView service managed to negotiate unmetered downloads with a stack of providers and also coped with having to deal with international rights issues. And while the NBN would certainly make downloads speedier in some locations, individual catch-up services do already exist for every network. Why not make Freeview actually useful and collect them in one location?