Now 90s streams back to Freeview

Music channel plays by the rules to keep Freeview slot, with two hour terrestrial broadcast in the morning.

Now 90s - the channel dedicated to 1990s music - is back on Freeview after a break of just over a month following the signing of a new carriage deal.

But in a cost-conscious move, Now 90s will no longer be broadcast via the terrestrial airwaves 24/7. Instead, the channel has opted to be streamed online to viewer's sets via compatible connected TVs and boxes. This currently doesn't include YouView boxes.

To avoid being relegated to the section of the Freeview channel list reserved for 24/7 streamed channels (260-299), Now 90s will be available to non-streaming devices for two hours each morning, broadcasting over the terrestrial airwaves from 05:00-07:00, in order to keep its existing channel number slot on 84.

Two hours of terrestrial broadcasting is the minimum required of any broadcaster showing entertainment programming to qualify for a Freeview channel number in the sub-100 channel range, according to rules issued by Digital UK, who are responsible for managing Freeview channel numbers.

Technically, for those two hours each morning, Now 90s will have a wider reach than it did before, with technical coverage up from around 75% of households to just above 90% of households - so for some viewers, Now 90s will appear on the Freeview channel list for the first time.

Now 90s was taken off Freeview in August when its previous six month carriage agreement had expired.

Compatible devices?
A number of channels offer extended broadcast hours using technology called MHEG-IC/ICS - they are streamed to TVs outside of their normal terrestrial broadcast hours. Sewing Quarter and QVC Beauty are examples of such services.

You'll need a broadband connection of at least 2.5Mbps and a TV or box that can handle streamed channels delivered via MHEG-IC/ICS.

Older Freeview SD devices will not be compatible.

Broadly, most Freeview HD compatible devices from the past seven years should be compatible - the specs for dealing with streamed channels was part of the Freeview HD specification.

Most Freeview Play devices can also stream the channel.

Intriguingly, there are now some devices that no longer support streaming in this method: the LG 32LM6300PLA - a 32 inch Smart TV with Freeview Play, sold at retailers including Currys PC World - was found to not support Freeview streamed channels delivered via MHEG-IC during our tests. Interactive streams could only be accessed via HbbTV - a newer standard adopted by the BBC. This fits in with a wider BBC-led move to withdraw from MHEG in favour of HbbTV.