Informa: YouView launch leaves more questions than answers

Following the official launch of the UK’s much-delayed connected TV platform YouView today (July 4th), there are still a number of questions that remain over its possible position in the market, according to Nick Thomas, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News).

Nick Thomas, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media

Nick Thomas, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media

“Today’s YouView ‘launch’ is way overdue but also too early,” says Mr. Thomas. “We’ve been talking about this for four years as the future of TV but it’s only just gone to beta testing and the set-top boxes are not yet in the shops. Clearly the consortium wanted to make some kind of impact ahead of the Olympics but in effect this will not be a mainstream proposition for UK consumers until the end of 2012.

“Had it launched in 2010 or 2011, it would have been able to shape the market, but now, it is another smart TV platform competing with offers from Freeview Plus, Sky, Virgin Media and TV manufacturers. The defining features of YouView– such as the backwards EPG – are no longer so revolutionary. And we still need to know if it the platform actually works.

Informa believes that a cross-device platform not tied to one manufacturer has a great chance of succeeding, if the content offering and consumer experience are right. So much so that the scale and scope of the YouView project may yet challenge premium offerings from partner providers such as BT and Sky, according to Mr. Thomas.

The Informa analyst cautions however: “As the market has moved on, it is not yet entirely clear where YouView will sit in the UK TV landscape. Freeview has been hugely successful in building an audience at one end, and has continued to evolve its offer. At the other end, pay-TV providers, notably Sky, have been at the cutting edge of investing in their content and also making it available across different devices.

“Where will YouView sit on this spectrum? This is a major dilemma: If it’s not good enough, it won’t gain traction with audiences who now have other choices. If it’s too good, it could threaten the business of other service providers, including some YouView partners.”

Finally, another issue may also lie in the growth of multi-screen offerings from TV providers, according to Informa: a content-rich platform like YouView will need to find a clear and simple way of enabling its users to navigate all the options available – which may now necessitate the development of a second-screen solution for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

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