UK online TV platform YouView, previously known as project canvas, has dismissed claims it will damage investment in the fledgling UK IPTV market.
YouView, the on-demand TV service backed by BBC ITV, BT and Channel 4, is set to launch as a beta test in the first quarter of next year. The site aims to bring video-on-demand programming and services to Freeview and Freesat.
The company said many people in the UK’s technology start-up community see YouView as an opportunity to put their content and applications before a wider audience, because it shifts the best of the internet from the PC to the living-room TV set.
But several local television companies, a set-top box manufacturer and Virgin Media have written to Ofcom asking the media regulator to investigate YouView, which is backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva.
Now Electra Entertainment, a provider of software for interactive TV equipment that competes head-on with YouView, is blaming the venture for its failure to attract investment.
Electra, which provides its software to companies including Tesco for internet-TV equipment, told Ofcom on Friday that YouView was cited by several venture-capital firms as reason not to participate in its recent funding round.
From next year viewers will have the choice of a subscription-free YouView set top box that will combine their favourite digital TV channels with the last seven days’ catch up TV, as well as bringing a full range of on-demand services and interactive extras straight to the living room.
The seven partners in the venture, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, TalkTalk, BT, Arqiva and Channel 5 – have now formed YouView TV Ltd, pledging about £18m each to cover the first four years of operation from April 2010.
YouView will introduce a programme guide that goes backwards as well as forwards.
This will enable people to easily see what’s on now alongside everything they’ve missed in the last 7 days, including programmes from broadcasters like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and five, which already have an on demand offering.
Set top boxes will include a Personal Video recorder so viewers can pause live TV or record an entire series at the touch of a button.
Viewers will also be able to simply search for the kind of programmes they like by genre, interest or locality, including films, sports and new content from the internet.
Plans to offer an applications store will also give viewers new types of services and levels of interactivity with their favourite programmes.
YouView set top boxes will be available for a one-off fee, with no contract. They may be offered at special rates as part of new or improved broadband packages. To get the full range of on-demand and interactive services, viewers will need a broadband connection from their chosen internet service provider.
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