After years of speculation and anticipation, YouView was finally unveiled to the UK’s tech and entertainment media – including our good selves – this morning.
After a demo of the system I’m predicting the service is going to be a huge success, especially with Freeview homes looking to upgrade without committing to a long-term contract with Sky and Virgin Media and also with some existing pay TV homes.
The YouView user interface (UI) has a nice modern look, is fast and responsive and easy to navigate.
It easily beats Sky’s UI which still doesn’t feel as if it were designed for an on-demand world and is markedly faster and easier on the eye than the Virgin Media TiVo I used for 4 month.
A lot of thought has clearly gone into ensuring users can find the content they want as easily and quickly as possible.
A single search will list content regardless of whether it’s broadcast, catch-up or on-demand.
In addition it’s also possible to carry out the same search while playing content – searching while watching a show on the BBC iPlayer will also reveal matching results from, for example, the ITV Player.
That’s a serious level integration which is unmatched by any other platform.
Content from Sky’s NOW TV service means YouView homes will be able to opt in and out of premium shows without a long-term commitment. That’s likely to be a winner with homes who want ‘a little bit more’ and long-term probably spells the end of Top Up TV.
The backwards EPG, integrated search, on-demand and catch-up content means YouView offers the same headline features as Virgin Media’s disappointing TiVo minus the monthly bill and with the option to use it with any ISP.
Based on what was shown today – though I withhold final judgement until I get a longer hand-on with a box – I predict YouView will rapidly overshadow the TiVo.
It certainly allows any Virgin Media households wanting to decrease their monthly spend to drop pay TV and retain the same overall user experience.
There’s a lot of rent-a-quote naysayers predicting that YouView has ‘missed the boat’. I disagree, this is a service that easily allows people to turn their recently acquired HD TV into a Smart TV for a single and affordable price.
It’s also going to be pushed by the partners and content providers – imagine Lovefilm and Netflix joining the platform – to an extent that the YouView name will be seen and heard everywhere.
YouView’s shareholders promise the service will “change TV in the UK forever”. For once I think the marketing boasts might be justified.