/ Technology

Is 2012 too late for YouView?

YouView logo

YouView, the joint venture between terrestrial TV channels, BT and others, has been delayed until ‘early’ 2012. But could this be too late when internet capable TVs are already on the market?

In theory YouView is a great idea. For the uninitiated, it’s a partnership between the terrestrial channels, BT and TalkTalk to create a new generation of TV set-top boxes.

It plans to offer normal Freeview TV merged seamlessly with on-demand, catch-up television via the internet, alongside other apps developed by third parties.

Merging standard TV and online TV feels like the natural next step in televised entertainment. However, as we found when Which? visited the Consumer Electronics Show in January, TV manufacturers already harbor similar aspirations. The longer YouView waits, the less relevant it’ll become.

Too many cooks spoil the broth

YouView’s principal problem is conflicting demands. Among the partners, you’ve got the BBC – a non-commercial, state-sponsored broadcaster – working alongside ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five, all of whom have slightly different demands and ideas. Then there’s the broadband providers BT and TalkTalk, and Arqiva (owners of SeeSaw), none of which are broadcasters in the traditional sense.

BBC accepts that all of them hope to make a profit from YouView in one form or another. Each, no doubt, has different ideas about the best way achieve those goals, and the BBC’s presence merely complicates things further.

It’s not just commercial factors complicating things, either. Each of the broadcasters already have their own on-demand services, and they all work in slightly different ways. Trying to marry them in a manner that’s invisible to the viewer is bound to be difficult.

As an anonymous source told the The Daily Telegraph recently about YouView’s development:

‘It [YouView] just doesn’t work when you turn it on and keeps crashing. You would think that after at least 18 months of development and at least six million pounds worth of investment from each shareholder, the box would actually work when being shown to its owners.’

Competition from internet TVs

YouView’s other problem is competition. TV manufacturers have already begun building web apps into their sets, and the next generation of internet TVs are slicker than ever before. Many offer true internet browsing and feature clever, motion-sensing remotes for easier navigation, and the diversity of content available is impressive.

Sony already has catch-up services from all the major channels in its TVs, and other manufacturer’s TVs have BBC iPlayer at the very least and will no doubt match Sony’s eventually. So why buy an extra box when you already have the functionality in your TV, or even your games consoles?

All is not quite lost

YouView’s delay is a significant impediment to its success, of that there is no doubt. However, there is some cause for hope. For all its travails it’s still a promising idea backed by money and plenty of goodwill.

But if ‘early 2012’ becomes mid or late-2012 – as large collaborative projects tend to – the odds will become slimmer with every delay.

DaveB says:
19 February 2011

Untill the ISP’s get their act’s sorted, and provide RELIABLE broadband that can deliver the serives, it isn’t going to happen.

Even then, it’ll be the major towns and citties etc who will benefit, not us that live in rurual areas.

Whatever, just don’t use Power Line Networking to hook the TV to your Router.



You can critise YouView for a lot of things but I find it incredible when people feel others can match them in terms of what they will be delivering. The different offerings TV are coming out with are “widgets” and those with “browsers” are nothing more than a netbook ala Chrome OS on a TV – hardly appealing on a TV where you have a different user experience.
The unique thing about YouView is that you will have the same EPG (program guide) as Freeview but amongst the normal over the arial channels you will also have your selected channels from the internet, thus making it possible to mix and match, giving you “unlimited” tv channels from the same interface.
NO ONE can deliver that and NO ONE has plans to deliver it, except YouView. So to compare it to widget TV with motion controls is total lackof understand what it is that will be deliveredin 2012.

Sounds like BBC is thinking of linking the internet with the TV licence that’s how the BBC would make money from YouView I feel the whole thing could be a catch, I have noticed the YouView Freeview HD the box has dropped in price such units could end up being discontinued. My worry is they could be planning a new format for YouView that could be why one unit I have seen on sale the price has dropped from £169 to £69 for the same make and model.


“Sony already has catch-up services from all the major channels in its TVs,…”

Does Sony really have all of the catch-up services? When did that happen? The Sony marketing site says iPlayer only, my Sony blu-ray has iPlayer and 5. This is reading like a Sony puff piece. I think Sony are in the same boat as Panasonic, LG, Samsung,… They are dying to get the youview spec and get it into service since they are already in competition with non-TV vendors for access to these services. BTW, what idiot would pay £199 for the Sony internet TV box when £100 will buy a blu-ray player that does the internet and play DVDs.

There’s iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, LoveFilm and more on the PS3. Plus, Andy’s Convo is about internet TV’s, not Blu-ray players.