Feeds

BBC, ITV gang up on YouView with 'FreeView Connect'

Just what we need: another TV platform

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The BBC and ITV look set to cut YouView adrift, backing a new TV distribution platform they've developed called FreeView Connect. This has long been rumoured in the UK industry, and now Digital UK – which is backed by the two channels together with Channel 4 and Arqiva – has confirmed they're looking at it.

According to anonymous mutterings to the Guardian, FreeView Connect will be a catch-up service that aims "to be an industry standard". Alas, the two PSBs haven't got round to explaining it to the industry, just yet – let alone submitting their technology to the TV standard body.

"Freeview and Digital UK are exploring what a connected TV proposition, including catch-up TV, might look like alongside the existing linear TV offer to give viewers extra flexibility in how they watch television," Digital UK said in a canned statement.

So FreeView Connect can be thought of as "FreeView on steroids", with catch-up functionality. Ironically this is how YouView was being described five years ago, when it as still an internal project to put the iPlayer into a set-top box called Project Canvas.

You(View) got served

Last week the Graun explained why BBC and ITV have soured on YouView - especially when Auntie had spendt so much money on it. YouView has been good business for BT and TalkTalk, which subsidise the set-top boxes and bundle them with broadband. It has increased the range of options they can offer punters and made those customers less likely to churn.

But of the 1 million YouView set-top boxes installed in the UK, only around 30,000 or 3 per cent, were bought unsubsidised at retail. As one source told the paper: "YouView was meant to be the champion of the next generation of free-to-air, but the involvement of the internet service providers means that it has become a pay platform. YouView isn't the champion of the free; it's the home of the pay."

Officially, the BBC is more circumspect in its comments about YouView. A report for the BBC Trust published last week advised that the Corporation "should carefully review its investments in TV platforms, namely Freeview, Freesat and YouView, in light of BBC-wide platform and distribution strategy and in particular its duty to promote the availability of services free (or at no incremental cost) at the point of delivery."

FreeView Connect is being led by Digital UK, the not-for-profit firm which oversaw the digital switchover as well as the project to clear the 800MHz band for mobile broadband technologies. It is owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and mast monopoly Arqiva. Somewhat generously, the Graun describes the foursome as an "industry body". So uh … where's the industry?

They haven't been told about it, giving rise to the suspicion that the Freeview Connect team wants to work closely with one or two handpicked TV manufacturers rather than open up the membership to all comers, which is the structure adopted by YouView. That could get interesting.

Last November, Ofcom invited comments on whether the BBC and ITV should be bumped off the spectrum altogether. Not a prospect that the several million homes without broadband will greet with joy, we suspect. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.