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YouView hybrid TV service could launch by July

Broadband-boosted TV service YouView could go from a closed trial to a public launch in as little as four weeks.

The Financial Times says YouView is moving from a small trial with about 100 users to 350 homes made up of prospective buyers for the service.

TalkTalk has been recruiting customers for the four-week ‘alpha’ trial since March, signing them up to non-disclosure agreements so they can’t reveal details of the set-top boxes and content.

YouView's mystery set-top box

TalkTalk is one of seven founding partners in YouView, alongside the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT and Arqiva.

A successful trial could green-light a public beta test for YouView before the Olympics, although stocks of set-top boxes are likely to be limited at first, which would enable the operators to gradually scale up to mass-market broadband traffic.

TalkTalk recently rescheduled the launch to the summer quarter of 2012, from July to September, and Humax is almost certain to be the first manufacturer.

The alpha trial will see TalkTalk’s subscribers issued with set-top boxes designed to pick up Freeview HD over-the-air and connect to YouView’s extra broadband services.

YouView will host catch-up TV from all four founding broadcasters, presented through a TiVo-style ‘backwards EPG’ that lets you scroll through the previous seven days.

Catch-up TV will be delivered over the user’s broadband connection, along with other free and paid-for video and information services.

When YouView goes live, the set-top boxes are expected to cost around £200, but TalkTalk and BT will subsidise them and provide their broadband subscribers with exclusive content.

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