The BBC says not.
Half way down the article, the Guardian quotes a spokesperson as saying:
“We are committed to YouView and are confident of finalising the renewed shareholders agreement by the end of March.”
The broadcaster gave me the same response this morning when I asked it to comment on the paper’s story.
And YouView themselves insist all shareholders remain committed to the platform, with a spokesperson saying:
“YouView is the fastest growing TV service in the UK and all of the shareholders are pleased with the progress made in just 18 months. All 7 shareholders remain committed to YouView and are confident of finalising the renewed shareholders agreement by the end March.”
The problem with articles like the Guardian’s is that they can be factual and also not exciting or surprising despite the frenzied reaction they spark from commentators and on forums.
Setting up a new connected TV platform, developing the core code and functionality and building awareness costs a lot of money but as a product matures the amounts needing to be invested fall.
That’s the natural order of things.
So it wouldn’t be surprising if, as the paper claims, shareholders are looking to scale back their investment .
As any business owner or manager will tell you, costs rapidly spiral upwards if not constantly challenged and YouView’s owners will want to ensure the platform isn’t burning up more of their cash than is needed to maintain the product.
And it’s entirely possible that BT and TalkTalk will end up putting more into the platform than other shareholders in order to ensure that the BBC and other PSBs aren’t subsidising their commercial activities, with each ISP paying towards features only they use.
Concerns about the Licence Fee being used to subsidise commercial outfits have been constantly expressed since YouView’s inception so it makes sense for the BBC to potentially use the renewed financing agreement to resolve the issue once and for all.
What the Guardian’s story doesn’t mention is that YouView is entitled – and expected – to recover some of its operating costs from content owners who join the platform.
In addition to the shareholders, this lines up S4C, Sky and UKTV as sources of funding.
And as more content owners join the platform it’ll have access to an ever widening pool of financial contributors, which in turn reduces the sums shareholders need to put in.
So shareholders cutting their investment does not, as the more excitable corners of the web think, mean the end of YouView or even the end of its days as a retail product.
Neither does it mean that the BBC “is withdrawing its support” from a platform it developed and nurtured to market and is currently working to bring its Connected Red Button to later this year.