UK connected TV service YouView will be available for consumers to buy by the end of the month. The announcement was made by YouView chairman Alan Sugar and managing director Richard Halton at a press briefing this morning.
The much-delayed service will retail for £299 (€373), offering a mix of linear broadcast and internet delivered on-demand content. ISPs, including YouView partners BT and Talk Talk will bundle the box into packages and offer their own exclusive services on top of the standard offering.
CEO Richard Halton said YouView was designed to give “a better basic TV experience”. He said, “YouView is not internet on TV, it’s a simple easy to use box. It offers everything in once place that can be controlled from the sofa with a remote control.” He highlighted the fact that users can scroll backwards in the EPG to find catch-up programmes as the key differentiator from other TV platforms. The service will launch on a Humax DVR, offering content from partners the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, including seven days’ worth of catch-up programming.
Sky’s upcoming TV Everywhere service Now TV, offering Sky Movies and later Sky Sports, will be accessible from YouView at some point this summer.
To-date, over 300 content providers have expressed an interest in joining YouView. New partners will need to pay to join the platform and YouView will control the channel positions and portal positions. Sugar said there would be an onward development of the EPG “like we’ve seen from Sky”. Sugar said the platform would target the 13-15 million customers that do not currently take a paid for service from a pay TV operator. “This will replace the Freeview box – that is my ambition. You only need this in the home,” he said.
Speaking about the price of the launch device, Sugar said he wouldn’t be surprised if the cost came down to £199 in a year’s time. He said a simpler “zapper” box without a DVR hard drive would eventually be available, and pointed out that YouView wanted to launch ”at the top end and then come down”. He said platform would evolve to offer many more services, describing the current offering as “a carcass of the real experience”.
TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding said the telco would reveal details about its YouView package offers on July 26. YouView will work on any broadband network, although 3Mbps is the recommended speed, which Halton said 80% of the UK has access to. Users on faster networks will be able to stream HD quality video from some broadcasters, including the BBC, Halton said.
YouView had initially been scheduled for a late-2010 launch but faced a series of delays. The platform is currently undertaking consumer testing, with 2,500 people taking part in the trials. “From what I’ve seen on Twitter, people are very happy with it,” Sugar said.
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