YouView launch put back to summer

It could be touch-and-go whether the UK’s Internet-connected TV platform YouView will be ready in good time for the London Olympics, following rumors of further delays from its partners.

The project has been dogged by technical delays and arguments over content placing within its EPG ever since being rebranded YouView from Project Canvas in Sept. 2010, at which time it was due for launch at the end of that year. It was put back to mid-2011, and then, for some time, Feb. 14, 2012, was set internally as the target launch date. So, unless YouView surprises everybody and launches this week, it will have missed that date. Now, there are suggestions that the platform will not be ready for full launch until late in the second quarter, which will be getting perilously close to the London Olympics, which begin on July 27. YouView has also maintained that its hybrid set top boxes will be available before then.

YouView has attracted close attention in the UK because it is a joint venture between the country’s big players in TV, with the exceptions of pay TV operators BSkyB and Virgin Media. It is being run as a joint venture between the four broadcasters BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and ITV, along with the incumbent Telco BT, national digital terrestrial infrastructure provider Arqiva, and Internet Service Provider TalkTalk. Apart from the hybrid set top box to connect TVs with the Internet, YouView has also developed the technical standards and the EPG. Each of the venture partners will then launch their own version of the package, competing in the case of TalkTalk and BT.

TalkTalk has now begun consumer acceptance testing of its version of YouView as a prelude to a full consumer trial expected to begin in the spring. TalkTalk may offer YouView to existing broadband customers as an upgrade, and also as an entry-level, pay TV package for people that have never subscribed to BSkyB or Virgin Media. For BT, YouView will be the delivery vehicle for a revamped version of its existing IPTV pay service, BT Vision. For the broadcasters, it will be a way of delivering its catch-up services alongside linear content within a single, much more powerful EPG.

YouView’s specification is based on the UK’s Digital Television Group’s D-Book 7, providing technologies for delivery of broadcast and IP enabled content onto a television set via a broadband connected device, just like HbbTV. In principle, any manufacturer can use the specification to bring set top boxes to market under the YouView brand. But, initially, YouView has been working with a set of device partners, including Chinese telecoms system group Huawei, UK set top box maker Pace, and Cisco.