back to article Carry On YouView Regardless, BBC Trust tells the BBC

The BBC can carry on investing in internet TV outfit YouView, the BBC Trust has ruled. The oversight panel "endorsed" the broadcaster's continued involvement in the video on-demand organisation and has published a report supporting its decision. YouView today is now largely sold through its two big ISP shareholders – BT and …

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  1. Malcolm 1

    YouView is a nice platform. It's a shame that it is not more widespread, seems a bit barmy to reimplement it under the auspices of FreeView connect, but I'm sure there's a good reason...

  2. ForthIsNotDead

    YouView. Meh.

    I have a YouView box. It's pretty Meh, to be honest. As a BT Vision subscriber (yes, I'm *the* one!) I preferred their older silver box. The YouView box has an impressive looking UI with lots of shiny graphics, but you soon realise that it's effing slow and just wish you could turn it all off. The older BT box had a much more stripped GUI (which was just fine, actually) and was much better to navigate.

    In terms of the performance of the YouView box, it's fine. Not noticed any problems with it. It's just a bit "meh" to be honest. If it was taken away I don't think I'd miss it - with the exception of recording the Grand Prix on the BBC on Saturdays and Sundays - the *only* thing Dad (i.e. me) uses it for.

    Meh.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: YouView. Meh.

      My Mum signed up with TalkTalk (against my advice - and has sadly since had to deal with their customer services gibbons), and got a YouView box. I stayed over a couple of months ago, and I did notice the box was very slow. Although to be fair, it was probably slightly better than the Virgin box my brother had last year, which was really, really slow.

      YouView is OK. Not as good as I was expecting, after all the good things I'd heard about it. Scary that this is what they came up with after removing a whole bunch of features and bloat - apparently at the insistence of Alan Sugar. Who supposedly knocked a few heads together, after all the various competing vendors tried to stuff the kitchen sink into the box.

      Then again, Sky have just made their Sky+ box worse. Had an update to mine last month, that now means the dedicated TV guide button no longer takes you to the TV guide. No, instead it takes you to a nice page where you can see the full panoply of services which Sky would love to sell you. I guess that in the end, sales always takes usability to the ditch out back and shoots it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: YouView. Meh.

        "I stayed over a couple of months ago, and I did notice the box was very slow"

        Seems to me all set top boxes are underpowered these days with laggy updates to the screen and slow responses to the remote. Either that or the hardware depts spec reasonable hardware then some idiot comes along and does the software in java or some other slow memory hogging VM (lets not get into this argument - they are) instead of C/C++ and/or assembler.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: YouView. Meh.

          FWIW my cable box in the US is implemented in Java, and gives stack traces on the screen when I torture it enough, like asking it to switch channels.

          Also, the original version of Java was meant to run set-top boxes and similar embedded tasks. Serious feature drift there.

          The cable company is getting by the local papers and the greens because the damn thing sucks 10W+ continuously when "off" and from the temperature of the box, I can believe it.

      2. Timmy B

        Re: YouView. Meh.

        That Sky+ update is terrible. Have an up-vote!

  3. Buzzword

    Given that a Chromecast dongle costs just £30, the price of a YouView box is hard to justify.

    (Yes it's hidden in the contract cost, but it's still a cost.)

    1. Malcolm 1

      Its got a hard disk and a couple of tuners in there too, so not entirely comparable to a Chromecast, but £100 would probably be nearer to the mark.

  4. Irongut Silver badge

    With iPlayer available on web, mobile apps, smart TVs, Chromecast, etc what is the point of the BBC investing in a service that is only available to subscribers the two worst ISPs in the country?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Well it can't be that there is a revolving door between BT, BBC and Government for senior managers - so best to keep all your chums sweet - definitely not that

    2. localzuk

      It isn't just available to those 2 companies' subscribers. It is also available to buy for a one off cost from many retailers, such as Tesco, Currys or Amazon...

  5. Jason Bloomberg

    AIUI...

    ... a YouView box can be used with any ISP, just that you won't get the so-called 'added value services' BT and TalkTalk provide, you have fork out a ridiculous amount of money to buy the hardware yourself or find someone selling a second hand box.

    A traditional STB suits many people even though there are other ways to get the content but its unsubsidised cost is prohibitive unless with BT or TalkTalk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AIUI...

      I was part of the original trial of YouView, using a traditional ISP (not Virgin, Sky, BT or TT) and Freeview. Once the trial was over I was given the box as my "reward" for taking part in the trial. Since the trial finished, I've probably used the extra YouView features (catch-up, individual players) 3 times and that's only because they were there. I have another more conventional STB which also includes Freeview and I use that far more. The YouView box comes from the same hardware manufacturer as my conventional STB but the YV one is much slower and locks up from time to time. It seems to have the conventional STB "BIOS" and then additional YV firmware - probably why it's slower, especially on start-up.

  6. theblackhand

    YouView

    Wasn't this an attempt to compete with Sky (and to a lesser extent Virgin)? Sky moving into triple play meant more revenue which meant more premium content moving to the platform.

    Mid-2000's it wasn't clear where the competition would come from and I think the BBC saw an opportunity to compete and move from being a broadcaster to a broadcaster/content provider.

    As we approach 10 years later, there is competition (Virgin and BT), I don't see anyway the BBC would be allowed to enter the ISP/telecom's space to compete on 3G and one of their partners (BT) looks like being a serious contender in that space.

    So what are the BBC's plan's now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: YouView

      Sort of - I think they saw a gap in the market for a product cheaper than Sky/Virgin but richer than Freeview. So they came up with YouView, which was essentially Freeview (in all but name) with some VoD and multicast channels for people who don't want to pay £50 on Sky Movies/Sports.

      So they spent roughly forever developing a PVR with a proprietary walled-garden software stack, to be used by all of 2 operators. Then Sky came along and did what YouView should have done all along - Now TV. Now TV is just an app, be it on iOS, Android or a £10 box, not an expensive PVR which costs a fortune to build and ship and probably spends most of its time recording Eastenders, not making BT/TalkTalk money on the ppv content it was intended for.

      Why does BT or TalkTalk need to provide a PVR to record stuff off free-to-air telly? And why does the BBC need to help pay for that proprietary software stack? Come to that, why do ISPs need to sell me content when I can get the same stuff from iPlayer (Now TV, Chromecast, laptop), 4oD (Now TV, laptop), Netflix (Chromecast), Amazon...?

      Trouble is, it seems YouView's success comes only from BT and Talk Talk giving boxes away in a desperate attempt to keep customers from switching to the other.

      1. chris 17 Silver badge

        Re: YouView

        i think there is some crap licensing law about not being able to centrally store broadcasted material, Obviously the broadcaster can get around this when they license the content, but bt, talk talk et al can't.

    2. McBread

      Re: YouView

      The BBC didn't plan Youview to become a competitor to Sky in paid-tv. They feared, in a fragmented landscape, BSkyB could use their install base and financial clout, to become the defacto standard for IPTV in the UK.

      Until a few years ago, Joe Bloggs seemed to believe that you had to pay BSkyB to receive Satellite. You didn't, but people would still buy a subscription to watch the free channels. Or you would have to buy a sub to get access to a decent PVR with 7 day EPG. It took the BBC & Co launching freesat to finally fix the issue.

      I believe Youview was born out of the same mindset, but rather than trying to fix a broken ecosystem, make the right one from the start. That BT and TalkTalk have been able to use Youview so successfully is a consequence of the fact they got it right in making the platform workable for both free and paid content. The TV brands are still dicking around with incomplete propriety systems that fail to offer the full menu, and Sky would try to lock everything in to a sub only ecosystem.

      People talk about BT and TalkTalk hijacking Youview, but they've ensured it short-term success and in turn that actually benefits those after free IPTV. The boxes aren't cheap but the BT/TT sales will help obtain economies of scale, supply a second-hand market and maximise the chance of other content providers joining the system.

      The area where Youview does need criticism is failing to get any of the TV manufactures on-board. IMO due to being too strict about the Youview experience and not coming up with a version of the specs that the TV companies can bolt on to a TV.

  7. localzuk

    Its a device that people will trust

    Thing is, when you look at the rather large and confusing market of set top boxes and smart TVs, it is a device that has big British names attached to it. Names that many people know and trust. So, imagine you're someone who simply doesn't understand this stuff - there's plenty of them around. You go into a shop and you say you want to be able to watch iPlayer catch up on your TV. On the shelf in front of you is everything from Roku to NowTV, to new Smart TVs, and this Youview box.

    The sales rep tells you about them and comes to the Youview box, telling you it was created by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, and its used by BT and Talk Talk. Simple sales tactic. It'll work.

  8. Don Jefe

    Flabbergast

    My childhood dog was named Flabbergast. He was a Beagle and born with a slightly misshapen skull that placed his brow ridges slightly above that of a 'breed standard' Beagle. The effect was one of perpetual surprise and a state of continuous flabbergastedness, so my dad named him Flabergast. Good dog he was too. Always seemed excited as if every new post, bush or pile of shit he came upon might somehow hold the secret to everything. Hell, maybe he was right. He ultimately disappeared and that's a recurring theme in many religious texts: Enlightenment is attained then poof, gone. I expect the fiery chariots were added for dramatic effect in later versions.

  9. chris 17 Silver badge

    Project Kangaroo aka SeeSaw

    YouView is the remnants of Project Kangaroo from circa 2008 after the competition commission decided it would be too powerful and we all needed saving from a single platform that would have served as the VOD/catch up tv system for terrestrial TV.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_(video_on_demand)

    Project Kangaroo/SeeSaw would have been awesome. Imagine every Smart TV being SeeSaw compatible, it would have allowed the terrestrial channels to have competed head to head with Sky, & we'd all be benefiting right now through greater choice and competition. Instead, the competition commission decided Tony's mate needed extra protection at the expense of us mere taxpayers.

    1. Enrico Vanni

      Re: Project Kangaroo aka SeeSaw

      Hahah! Tony's mate! Didn't stop Tony running away with his wife....

  10. Southwestwall

    YouView ... Murdoch-Free TV

    Like it says on the tin. YouView doesn't involve that duplicitous parasite Murdoch in any way, shape or form and is the only really coherent, credible, lounge based alternative to Sky fronted by anyone so far.

    In our house we watch TV when we see fit and skip the adverts, without the need for an ugly dish that can't even cope with heavy rain, paying just a fiver a month over a year contract which can then be chopped.

    So it's subsidised. So what? That's a no-brainer at £60 for the box against £160 retail (originally £300!). Even that £160 is better than shelling out over £20 a month for ever, for hundreds of totally forgettable non-channels suffocated with one third advertising ... that's without adding massively overpriced sport dross and ancient films.

    The eighteen least dross-laden Sky entertainment channels are available for another two quid a month via the ISP, which can then be recorded to skip the one third adverts.

    Hooked up on an ethernet home network to a fibre connection, most of the gripes about speed and response disappear ... that's the benefit of eliminating wifi and the joy of having decent broadband.

    Sure we could watch television on a "device", but with comfy recliner chairs and a big plasma, who the hell in their right mind would choose instead to squint at TV through a tiny glass postcard or sat at a computer?

    As for "smart" TV's, they tend to be anything but, with fractious manufacturers who won't agree on the time of day and change like the wind, so nothing becomes standard or coherent. I'd rather have a small throwaway box than a big throwaway television.

    In a fit of desperation for whatever killer US TV series Sky have strangled off, a NowTV box would be a relatively cheap addition to the media suite, but it is cheap for several reasons; 720p definition, medicore wifi, no recording facility and that eternally suffocating one third advertising. I would rather wait until streaming media or retail release than put a farthing in their pockets.

    Knock YouView as much as you like, it serves us better than anything else on offer and I don't see many (any!) other credible alternatives with their hat in the ring, pending the as-yet unfounded offering of FreeView Connect.

  11. Visionman
    Go

    YouView was created as an alternative to full blown subscription TV services. Not as rich in content as Sky but richer than Freeview. Mind you that might be a good thing not bad, because the majority of channels available on Sky are complete and utter dross.

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