IP&TV News talks to Richard Halton, CEO, YouView, in advance of his appearance at TV Connect 2014…
IP&TV News: 2013 was a huge year for YouView. What were you most proud of and why?
Richard Halton: We are particularly proud of adding internet channels to the service as well as new on demand players from UKTV and Sky Store – and have more content to add this year. We also added market-leading accessibility functionality including zoom, high contrast EPG and compatibility with Grid 2 software. Our free YouView app is also now available on iOS and Android devices offering customers access to a programme guide and a remote record function.
Would you say YouView has transformed free to air television in the UK? If so, what was key to achieving this?
Free-to-air TV in the UK is a massive success – YouView is about extending the offering for consumers who don’t want to pay for TV – and is good for platform competition and keeping it relevant. YouView is blurring the boundaries of the free vs pay-TV model – we are integrating both on your TV – which means we offer more flexibility and choice for our customers which is a very compelling proposition for UK consumers. Finally, we continue to champion and develop the seamless and intuitive user experience which we know strikes the right chord with our target audience – the mainstream consumer market in the UK.
YouView is a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva. What conflicts or challenges does a collaboration of this sort present?
All of our shareholders bring valuable expertise and insight to the table and YouView in turn supports their own individual goals. It’s a strong partnership and all of our shareholders are pleased with the success of YouView in just 18 months.
Looking ahead, what do you think YouView will have to do to remain significant in such a rapidly changing ecosystem?
We’re already ahead of our competitors and we’re working hard to increase that gap by continually evolving the on demand TV service ensuring we’re making brave technological advancements while taking our mainstream customers with us. It’s important to remember that UK consumers aren’t as far ahead with technology adoption as we think, so it always needs to be relevant and compelling to them.
What’s the most exciting thing in connected entertainment right now?
The complimentary offering of second screen is an interesting supplement to TV viewing – while not impacting the core experience. It offers a huge variety of options from controlling the service to personalisation and recommendation which we’re currently looking into. Internet channels are also really exciting – they will take YouView from the standard 70 free-to-air channels and allow us to add an infinite number of Internet delivered broadcast quality channels – extending the channel offering in a significant way.
It’s just been announced that you’ll be appearing at TV Connect. What do you expect the hot topics will be at this event?
Connected TV is now becoming a mainstream concept – and both consumers and the industry are becoming more attuned to the impact it will have on the future of television in the UK. I think this will be a hot topic – and discussion on how we will deliver and consume TV in the next few years will be interesting.
Richard Halton will be appearing at TV Connect 2014, 18-20th March. For booking and more info go here.