Mark Thompson, Director General of UK broadcaster the BBC, has confirmed that the connected TV initiative YouView will miss its target of a full commercial launch before the 2012 London Olympics, due to start next month.
Speaking at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee yesterday (June 20th), Mr. Thompson said that while there were “hundreds” of YouView-capable set-top boxes involved in market trials, and “thousands” ordered, he did not expect the project to be fully launched by the end of July.
Quizzed by Conservative MP Therese Coffey on whether the joint venture had missed its commercial opportunity, the BBC boss said he wanted to get the product right: “We want a completely stable product that delivers from day one,” he said. “We want people to have the same experience on YouView that they had with iPlayer.”
“IPTV turns out to be quite difficult to do”
Mr. Thompson conceded that some developmental hurdles remain for the oft-delayed project, which started back in late 2008 as a partnership between the BBC, dominant telco BT and broadcaster ITV, and which has subsequently been joined by broadcasters Channel 4 and Five, ISP TalkTalk and broadcasting services provider Arqiva.
“IPTV turns out to be quite difficult to do,” he added. “People want a television-like experience – they don’t want a search box or quirky keyboard, they want something that feels like TV but which gives them more choice and functionality.”
The partners behind YouView recently opened the trials process to the wider public, inviting people to register on its website for the chance to take part in beta testing – more details here.
Having recently won a large slice of the broadcasting rights to the next two seasons of the English Premier League, BT looks set to have a key differentiator for its own YouView-based offerings, according to analysts at Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News) – more details here.
The YouView platform was originally conceived to offer the ‘plug-in-and-watch’ simplicity of DTT platform Freeview, plus the UK’s leading internet catch-up and video on-demand services, all instantly available through one simple, intuitive set-top box and proprietary electronic programme guide.