YouView Faces Delay; Invites Sky & US Studios To Be On Board

Jonathan Sutton

YouView, the IPTV (internet protocol television) venture formerly known as Project Canvas which is backed by some of the biggest names in the UK’s media and telecommunications industry, may reach UK households later than planned, conceded the chairman for the project.

Co-funded by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva, YouView was initially expected to hit UK homes during the first half of 2011. However, speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild luncheon event held in the private room of the Bertorelli restaurant in Soho London, YouView Ltd’s non-executive chairman Kip Meek hinted that the first YouView-capable set-top boxes may not actually grace UK retail shelves until the second half of next year.

Seeking to brush aside this possible delay, Mr Meek was quick to point out that he did not announce any specific target launch date originally, and that a technology project like YouView was always going to be prone to hold-ups due to the number of partners (be they software or hardware) involved.

In another part of his speech, Mr Meek publicly courted US broadcast TV and movie studios, inviting them to distribute their content using the YouView platform either through dedicated IP (internet protocol) channels or on demand. He argued that YouView’s content delivery model is more efficient than those of satellite and cable TV companies, giving content providers the opportunity to “cut out the middle man” and boost their profits.

Mr Meek also insisted that the door remains open for Sky to be involved in the YouView project in some form. The satellite TV broadcaster had been highly critical of YouView since the latter’s Project Canvas days (to the extent of lodging formal complaints with Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading), but stopped short of totally ruling out the possibility of joining the platform in the future. Although technically Sky cannot be accepted as a new partner in the YouView venture without the approval of existing shareholders, one way for Sky to participate is by launching its Sky Player online video-on-demand (VoD) service on the IPTV platform.