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YouView goes Live: What can we expect?

Internet enabled TV service, YouView, has been formally launched in the UK two years behind schedule. The Drum takes a look at what can be expected from it.

The internet enabled set top box allows users to watch catch-up television from the last week, on channels such as ITV Channel 4, Channel 5 and the BBC using online catch up services, as well as watch and pause and rewind live TV.

Described by chairman Lord Alan Sugar as a "great moment in British television", and backed by BT, TalkTalk and the BBC amongst others, YouView’s built-in Freeview allows users access to 70 channels and on demand services subscription free after an initial outlay for the set top box which connects to your home broadband.

The YouView set top box has a TiVO-like DVR (digital video recorder) functionality and 500GB of internal storage, retailing at £299 the service has already faced a backlash. The initial idea behind YouView was a service that would bring online television services, such as BBC iPlayer, onto the main television screen. Since YouView’s inception in 2008 most televisions are now already ‘internet enabled’ – 135 of the 176 on sale in John Lewis have internet capability – and games consoles like the Xbox and Nintendo Wii also offer built in access to the iPlayer, on-demand movies and other catch up services.

Following these innovations it is not clear where YouView will fit into the UK TV landscape, though the potential of the platform was boosted by Sky’s announcement that it was bringing its pay-per-view movies (called Now TV) and possibly sports to YouView, for an additional charge. Internet service provider (ISP) partners are also to bundle their own unique content for their own subscribers i.e. BT and TalkTalk broadband customers will get more from the service.

Hailed as ‘the next generation of Freeview’ along with live and catch up TV YouView also benefits from a search function, easily accessed from a dedicated button on the remote which lets you search for a particular programme. CEO Richard Halton has also not ruled out the possibility of second screen apps, remote control apps and the possibility to set to record remotely.

The Human YouView box will be available to order online and in-store at Argos, Amazon, Currys, Euronics, John Lewis and Richer Sounds and is thought to be popular amongst the current Freeview audience with some analysts claiming there could be a take-up “between 1-3 million by 2015”.

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