Today was the day that YouView was finally announced to the world. The long-awaited, oft-delayed digital TV platform is now very much a real thing. The first product will be on the shelves at the end of July - in time for the Olympics too, despite what the naysayers said.
So far so good. The YouView programme guide is slick looking and easy to navigate. The Humax-made box is easy on the eye, not too much of a space hog and won’t look out of place next to the rest of your living room tech.
It’s not totally without it’s faults however and has a couple of specific things I’d like from a YouView box as a consumer if I’m going to bite.
The first thing is that while the programme guide on the Humax box is slick-looking, moving between menus wasn’t the smoothest experience in the world. Software updates ought to iron this out so there’s a fluid experience to match the electric blue and chrome graphics on the screen.
Humax: Y U No Wi-Fi?!
The lack of built-in Wi-Fi, forcing buyers to invest in either a Powerline adapter, a USB Wi-Fi dongle or several meters of Ethernet cable baffled me too. While it’s good that there are multiple ways to get your Humax DTR-T1000 connected to the net, YouView’s raison d’etre is about keeping things simple.
By cutting out on-board Wi-Fi, you’re forcing customers to think about where they’re going to have to place their YouView box in the home. The 2 metre Ethernet cable that comes in the box might not be long enough to reach the home router. Meaning that customers need at least a level of technical knowledge to get this up and running.
In his speech Lord Sugar said that YouView’s appeal was it’s simplicty, saying that you just needed to connect the box ot the aerial cable, the Ethernet cable and the power cable and you’re all good to go. Well with the greatest of respect Lord Sugar, that’s not strictly true...
Will I buy the first YouView box? Probably not. I already own a standard def-only Freeview PVR with a 500GB hard drive. As a consumer this isn’t enough recording space for me. I’d want to watch and record programmes in HD too, which would eat into more storage space.
I’d want something with at least a 1TB drive, and so I’ll wait for the bigger Humax box to come out
Now TV: Please can we have the football and Game of Thrones. Kthxbai
Sky Now TV coming to YouView is an interesting development, perhaps the one I wish more had been made of in today’s announcement.
From launch, you’ll be able to access Sky Movies content from Now TV. This is a direct challenge to the likes of Netflix and LoveFilm which has broadcast rights of movies, but only after Sky’s had its exclusive first run. Sky Movies still holds the first dibs to show all the content from all six of Hollywood’s major film studios before any other broadcaster.
But that’s not where the appeal of Now TV ends for me. Sky has announced that additional entertainment and sporting content will be available to watch in the future.
Sky’s been cagey about the details but if it managed to bring Premier League football and Sky Atlantic content to YouView via Now TV then I, and many others, could bite.
I’d personally be happier paying a monthly fee to pick and choose what I wanted from Sky’s catalogue rather than have to sign up for entertainment packages of channels that I’d probably never watch. I’m a big fan of much of what's on Sky Atlantic, Mad Men and Game of Thrones to name a couple.
I’m personally not really fussed about football. But it’s obvious given the amounts of money spent on subscriptions and broadcast rights that a lot of people are.
This is where things could get really interesting.
BT + YouView + Now TV + Sky Sports + ???? = PROFIT
BT has announced that it’ll be launching a separate YouView set top box. Cosmetically, it’ll be different from the Humax DTR-T1000 but internally it’s expected to be the same thing.
The other way the BT YouView box will differ is in terms of extra content. Recently BT spent hundreds of millions to acquire broadcast rights for a number of English Premier League football games.
Sky has acquired the rights to the rest of the games which it may or may not be showing on YouView via Now TV. If Now TV was to show matches on-demand on the YouView then the BT YouView box could become the football fan’s digital TV platform of choice.
Or at least a solid alternative for viewers who can’t get a Sky dish installed but want to watch football and/or don’t want to subscribe to any extra channels.
Right now I think it’s way too early to write off YouView as a ‘too little too late’ platform. Yes it’s been a long time coming and yes I think £300 is too much for a box with only a 500GB drive. That’s just me though; for others it might be enough.
My interest mainly hinges on the price of boxes coming down, a bigger hard drive and to see what Sky content makes it to Now TV. As for football I’m not bothered, but it’s obvious that millions of other people are and that football coverage can be crucial to the success of a TV platform. So for the sake of what I want to watch, I hope that everyone else gets what they want to watch.