YouView — a joint TV venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel Five, BT, TalkTalk, and Arquiva — is being trialed in 350 homes ahead of its launch later this year. Originally known as Project Canvas, the service was intended to launch in 2010, but has suffered delay after delay. YouView is a web-enabled version of Freeview, the UK's free-to-air digital network, which adds widgets, apps, catch-up TV, and DVR services alongside traditional programming. BBC News reports that Amazon's UK on-demand TV and movie service LoveFilm will be one of the apps available on the platform. YouView will be delivered through a set-top box which should cost around £200 (around $315). BT and TalkTalk will both subsidize the box for their broadband customers.
Those familiar with UK television will have noticed that a pair of important names are missing from the list of collaborators — namely Sky and Virgin Media, the two major pay TV companies in the UK. Virgin Media unsuccessfully attempted to instigate a public investigation into the "anti-competitive" nature of YouView, and has since ramped up its on-demand TV offerings, as well as aligning itself with TiVo for DVR services.
"People are spoilt for choice before YouView is even on the shelves."
Sky has also improved its on-demand services and holds the rights to the majority of sporting events as well as exclusivity deals for syndicated US programs, and has yet to confirm whether or not it will be offering its programming to YouView customers. When combined with the wide availability of the YouView partners' à la carte content through other platforms such as Xbox, PS3, DVRs, and Smart TVs, some analysts are predicting it'll be a case of too little, too late for the next-generation TV service. Jonathan Doran, principle analyst at research firm Ovum, told BBC News that "there are so many alternatives, people are spoilt for choice before YouView is even on the shelves." YouView is (currently) on track for release at some point between July and September.