YouView finally unveiled two years behind schedule
YOUVIEW, an internet connected set-top box backed by the BBC, has finally been unveiled by Lord Alan Sugar.
The ‘next generation of Freeview’, which was originally meant to launch in 2010, and has cost millions to develop, has been blighted by technical issues from the start.
Lord Sugar, who was brought in by the venture’s frustrated shareholders - ITV, Channel 4, Channel Five, TalkTalk, BT and Aqiva, last year to cure or kill the project, unveiled the new set-top box this morning at a press event held at the London Film Museum.
He said: “It’s with great pleasure that we announce that YouView will be available from major retailers later this month. Our intention with this simple–to-use box is to provide extraordinary TV for everyone, with on-demand services combined with TV channels with an opportunity to search back an entire week to catch what they’ve missed. It’s a whole new way of experiencing TV.”
Richard Halton, YouView chief executive said: "In many ways we’ve only just begun, YouView is set to evolve quickly and we look forward to working with new content partners and developing more functionality as boxes roll out into UK homes.”
The first boxes will go on sale in the UK by the end of the month at £299. Cheaper versions of the box, subsidised by TalkTalk and BT and offered as part of a broadband bundle, will follow later this year.
Olivier Wolf, of Greenwich Consulting, said: "Had this launched in 2010, the service would have been a clear success. Today, YouView is launching to a very different market, in which all consumers have moved to Digital Terrestrial Television and many of them already subscribe to various OTT services. Getting them to buy into a whole new service will be no mean-feat."
The venture has faced further criticism for missing out on fully exploiting the marketing opportunity the Olympics presented and leaving enough time ahead of the start of the Games to sell the product to the masses.
Last week, Marc Watson, the chief executive of BT Vision and YouView board member, dismissed the continued delays to the launch of the highly anticipated service. He told Telegraph: “From our perspective missing the Olympics is no big deal. We take a really long term view of YouView. This is a platform for the future – we do want to build it out to millions of people and we’ll take several years doing that.
“It’s much more important to get the product right than rush it out to market – people are not going to remember whether we missed the Olympics or not.”
YouView, which was previously known as Project Canvas, will offer a programme guide that goes backwards, offering seven day catch up via web TV services such as ITV Player, as well as forwards. It aims to build upon Freeview's success and offer a subscription-free TV service offering more choice via extra content made available via the web. It will also offer a TV app store. At least six million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on the project by BBC to date.
The whole project is expected to cost £115 million over a period of four years beginning in April 2010, with each partner spending a total of approximately £16.4 million on the endeavour. However all the shareholders were expected to cover many of the costs, such as technical development and marketing, in the first two years, with the BBC's spend expected to have reached six million pounds by the end of April 2011, with no product to show for it.
YouView has so far cost around £70m, with £10m of that coming from the licence fee.