YouView delays launch

Bow of U.K. connected TV service pushed back to 2012

LONDON — YouView, the ambitious U.K. connected TV service backed by the BBC and British Telecom, has suffered another setback by announcing that it will not bow until next year.

The venture, previously known as Project Canvas, had earmarked a launch date this summer, but technical difficulties have forced YouView to delay a full consumer roll out until early 2012.

The upstart’s chief executive, Richard Halton, said that it was critical that the project was not “rushed” on to the market.

He added: “Creating a truly open TV platform that will bring consumers increased choice has required significant technological innovation.

“Our timings for the launch reflect the scale and complexity of this project.”

With rumors of rifts between YouView’s seven investors, which include ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and U.K. mobile and broadband provider TalkTalk, and the departure of its chief technology officer, Anthony Rose, in December, a further setback in the form of a delayed launch will be music to the ears of U.K. payboxes BSkyB and Virgin Media.

Both BSkyB and Virgin Media campaigned hard to get YouView strangled at birth due to fears that the initiative would lure away their subscribers.

Already commentators have suggested that because YouView is taking so long to emerge, its chances of success are being eroded as rivals make progress with their own connected TV offers.

Late last year BSkyB launched its broadband video-on-demand service, Sky Anytime Plus, while Virgin Media has bowed its own beefed up VOD service using TiVo technology.

Kip Meek, YouView’s chairman, said last fall that the service plans to provide easy-to-use, seven-day catch-up services, alongside IP channels, on-demand content and applications, plus traditional digital terrestrial channels — all for free once auds had bought a new set-top box.

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