Launch plans for the combined Freeview and Internet service YouView have been announced today, Wednesday the 4th of July 2012.
What will YouView offer?
The new box will let you watch and record the existing Freeview channels, and let you access catch-up TV over Internet from BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Sound familiar? The same as has been offered by BT Vision for some time.
In addition, there’s an on-screen programme guide that, as well as showing the next few days of Freeview content, also lets you go back in time, to see what programmes you missed, with the option to watch them on-demand if they’re available. This new feature is called Scrollback TV. As BT Vision does now, the YouView service will eventually offer additional content for download, and a formal process for other content providers to apply started today. Where YouView does beat BT Vision, is HD – as the YouView box supports Freeview HD, unlike BT’s current offering.
How much will YouView cost?
The box will cost a hefty £299 once they become available at the end of July. The service will be subscription-free.
Later this year, we can expect subsidised boxes from both BT and TalkTalk that will involve a subscription, but there are no details of prices as yet. BT, of course, already offers a service very similar to YouView, and that’s BT Vision. It will be interesting to see how BT decides to brand and promote YouView and BT Vision, given the very close similarities between the two services.
How to get YouView
The boxes will be available from the end of July online at Amazon, and on the high street from Argos, Currys, Comets and John Lewis.
You can use the checker on the YouView site to see if you’re able to get YouView. Despite being in a good Freeview area, and being up and running with Freeview HD and BT Vision, the YouView Availability Checker reports that there are no Freeview channels available where we live. Our connection is faster enough for the broadband offering, which requires 3Mbp/s for streaming content.
YouView is already being trialled in 2,000 homes, and according to YouView, the trial’s going well, and users report that the service is easy to install, and easy to use.
According to Lord Sugar, Chairman of YouView, this will be a “whole new way of experiencing TV”, but given that the service is two years later than expected, are the likes of BT Vision, Sky Anytime+, Virgin Media TiVo and Apple TV too far ahead of the game to catch up? And what of the other services that have launched and not done so well such as the combined Freeview-and-Internet services from Fetch TV and 3 View?
To counter this, the YouView site tempts us that as the box has an internet connection, it “automatically updates itself with the latest features”, and we’re teased that new content and functionality will follow in the future.
One word of warning – watching on-demand content from YouView will eat into your broadband allowance, so it pays to be on an Internet service that doesn’t cap your usage too low. Note that BT Vision doesn’t have this restriction.
So, will you be getting YouView? Let us view your views, in the comments section below.