YouView racing to be in homes for Olympics

For what its worth at this point, the much delayed big UK IPTV joint venture YouView may finally be ready to meet a version of its revised and somewhat arbitrary target of launching in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

paidContent understands the consortium has been presenting a near-complete version of the system this week, due for consumer use in time for the sporting event. YouView tells paidContent:

“We are now in alpha trial (350 homes) and recruiting for beta trial, which will be over 2,000 homes. We haven’t announced anything further on launch timing.”

The project’s chairman issued invites himself…

Cisco staff are also currently testing it…

But, even if YouView manages to enable a 2,000-strong consumer trial (as opposed to the earlier at-home trial undertaken by its own engineers), it is not certain whether YouView-compliant set top boxes can make it to retail at the same time.

YouView is a much-delayed JV comprising the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 plus ISPs TalkTalk, BT and TV infrastructure operator Arqiva.

The whole thing dates back to 2008, when the BBC, as lead instigator, decided to head off likely proliferation in competing standards for delivery of video to connected TVs by forming an industry consortium to standardise systems in line with plain old TV’s existing Freeview system.

Alas, YouView has suffered delays, and the very hardware manufacturers which the BBC feared would fragment the nascent opportunity – notably Samsung, Sony and LG – have indeed been happily shipping many a TV with internet video apps aboard.
YouView’s latest launch target, after recently making its communications staff reundant, had, symbolically, been in line with the London 2012 Olympics, a big event for the BBC.

But it is not clear which of its technology partners including Humax, Cisco and Technicolor, will actually be bringing the set top box product to market or when.

BT is understood ready to switch its BT Vision hybrid DTT-IPTV TV service over to YouView, now that it has acquired a differentiator in Premier League live rights.

The BBC has been developing much of its Olympics output for connected TVs and other platforms, in lieu of YouView. It is developing HTML-based outlets for connected TVs regardless of whether they have YouView boxes attached.