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BBC DG promises Youview in time for Olympics

BBC director general Mark Thompson has promised that smart TV service Youview will launch in time for the Olympics.

Thompson said he hopes to see ‘significant’ numbers of boxes for Youview, which he described as ‘the Red Button on speed’

Youview will be a service combining high-definition Freeview and Freesat recorders with video-on-demand and information through your broadband connection. It’s backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and transmitter operator Arqiva.

Thompson told the Royal Television Society: “Like iPlayer, Youview has taken time to get right. But like iPlayer, I believe that Youview will launch at the right time with, I hope, significant numbers of boxes available in time for the Olympics.

“We’ve often been told that Youview would miss the boat, that by the time it was ready, its thunder would have been stolen. That hasn’t happened.

“Youview is based on a radically different philosophy than most of the existing connected TV standards, with simplicity, ease-of-use and a determination to make the user-experience as TV-like as possible.

“We’re building on the familiar experience of pressing the Red Button to access more information or an alternative video stream to deliver what will be the richest interactive experience any broadcaster has ever offered.

“The BBC backed digital terrestrial broadcasting when it looked like a no-hoper. There are now 20 million households using Freeview plus more than a million using Freesat.

“I believe that a connected TV standard backed by all the public broadcasters and internet service providers serving more than half of this country’s broadband homes, and which offers consumers a simple, low-cost way of powering their TV with power and choice of the internet will prove a compelling proposition.”

Youview’s latest official launch target is Easter 2012, but delegates at a recent Digital TV Group conference were tipped off to a May 14 launch.