The great and the good from the British technology media were at the London Film Museum this morning to hear from Lord Sugar and Richard Halton about YouView finally being launched in the UK this month.
They were joined by C-level representatives from all of YouView’s partners, including the BBC’s outgoing Director General Mark Thompson, and Adam Crozier, CEO of ITV.
The Connected TV service will be selling at most major UK retailers for GB£ 299 (US$ 466), offering a platform which will combine free-to-air terrestrial channels with Internet-delivered on–demand content from all major UK network broadcasters.
ISP partners BT and TalkTalk meanwhile will launch their own bundle packages later in the year. Talk Talk CEO Dido Harding, who was present at the launch, confirmed that further details of the TalkTalk package will be announced on July 26.
It was also confirmed that Sky’s recently-launched TV Everywhere service ‘NowTV’ will be available on YouView later in the summer.
YouView had originally been planned to launch in late 2010, but is only here finally now after a GB£ 70mn investment from the seven shareholders and the introduction last year of Lord Sugar as Chairman to work alongside Richard Halton as CEO.
Lord Sugar, who was the dominant presenter at the press launch, was keen to emphasise the importance of today’s announcement, stating that ‘today we are launching the TV platform that’s going to be around forever!”
He also stressed that the initial price is likely to go down in time, adding that he is very pleased with the job that manufacturer Humax has done with the design of the set-top box.
On the key question of whether YouView could integrate OTT platforms in the future, both Lord Sugar and Richard Halton were very keen to emphasise that in the future this could happen, with “hundreds” of content providers already in touch about the possibility of working together.
Halton was eager to demonstrate the product’s ease of use during his demonstration. This was reinforced by Sugar’s message that retailers have put in a confident amount of pre-orders.
The coming months will show whether that confidence was well founded.