YouView is set to launch in the UK at the end of this month, with the much-delayed web TV service seen by many as a possible successor to the Freeview platform. The service was unvieled by Lord Sugar, who announced that YouView would go on sale at the end of this month for £299, a higher price than had been anticipated. “Will I be surprised in two years time if the boxes in the retail channels will be £99? Not really, you know what it’s like in the consumer electronics industry,” he said.
Watch the launch video here:
YouView was revealed at a grand ceremony at the London Film Museum in the presence of BBC Director General Mark Thompson, whose successor was being announced on the same day, and the chief executive of Channel 4 David Abraham.
The broadcasters, along with ITV, BT, Channel 5, Talk Talk and Arqiva make up the seven partners who have each so far invested £10m in YouView.
Via the new YouView box, viewers will be able to watch more than 100 digital TV and radio channels, as well as on-demand video content from the libraries of the broadcast partners, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.
The unveiling comes two years after its original launch date of 2010.
Greenwich Consulting’s Olivier Wolf has stressed the changes to the market since the planned launch in 2010, stating that the current market and the move to Digital Terrestrial Television may make it more difficult for the product to attract custom.
The venture’s timing has also been criticised for failing to take advantage of the forthcoming Olympic Games. BT Vision’s chief executive Marc Watson dismisses these criticisms however, telling theTelegraph that missing the Olympics “is no big deal”.
YouView, which has gained £6m of taxpayers’ money from the BBC, will enable its users a seven-day catch up service as well as subscription-free TV service with extra content via the web.
YouView is in discussions with 300 additional content partners – likely to include arts organisations and charities – who could potentially transform the television experience.
But the initial launch of YouView is a cautious one and based on simplicity of use. “You can’t get anything easier than this,” said Lord Sugar. Again encouraging consumers to wait and see, the peer admitted the service contained a “minimum of facilities and features on there at the moment” but said it had potential to grow, describing it as a “carcass” and a “template”.
He said he was “proud” to be associated with a “revolutionary new product” and had been personally involved in designing some of the navigation features. “I am the prime master of making stuff that is easy to use,” he said. Praising the convenience of YouView’s three-step instructions guide, the host of The Apprentice adopted a demeanour familiar to his television audience when he added: “With the greatest respect if they can’t understand that then they shouldn’t be watching TV.”
Initially, YouView boxes will be available from John Lewis, Currys, Comet, Argos, Amazon, Richer Sounds and the Euronics group of retailers, while partners BT and Talk Talk will soon offer boxes as part of their broadband packages.
Through their packages, BT and Talk Talk will offer additional content and services to customers accessing YouView through their broadband networks.
Read the official announcement here