INTERNET TV SERVICE Youview launched its streaming TV service in the UK today, combining UK Freeview channels with on-demand content.
Backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Arqiva, BT and Talktalk, the set-top box made by Humax was revealed today by the project's non-executive chairman and star of The Apprentice, Lord Sugar and Youview's CEO Richard Halton.
Expected to hit shop shelves by the end of the month, Youview will provide digital TV and radio channels, seven day catch-up and on demand programmes from the content libraries of channels that are on the UK's Freeview service.
Using the set-top box, users will also be able to record, pause and rewind live TV and take advantage of a backwards electronic programming guide (EPG) and an on-demand search function.
A spokesman for Youview said that the service will be available through ISPs such as Talktalk and BT soon as part of monthly subscription packages. It will also be available until the end of the month to buy at a one-time cost from retailers with no further subscription costs.
However, Olivier Wolf, an analyst with Greenwich Consulting, said the launch might have come too late to make a major impact on the market.
"YouView has finally been unveiled this morning, but for many this was an underwhelming launch coming two years too late. Had this launched in 2010, the service would have been a clear success: once dubbed the ‘next generation Freeview,'" he said.
"Today, YouView is launching to a very different market, in which all consumers have moved to digital terrestrial television and many of them already subscribe to various [over the top] services. Getting them to buy into a whole new service will be no mean feat."
Humax has put a recommended price of £299 on the set-top box, but Sugar said at the launch today that he won't be surprised if that falls to £99 in a few years. Not long to wait then. µ