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Liz Jaques 

YouView: Too expensive, too late, too little demand?

YouView is finally due to be launched by Lord Sugar next week with promises that it will "change the face of TV", but is it too little too late or is there still room in the market for the BBC-backed VoD service?

"YouView is entering a crowded market, with the likes of Virgin Media, Sky, XBox and Playstation already providing compelling propositions," Steve Smith, head of thought leadership at Starcom MediaVest Group, told Newsline.

"YouView partners will aim the device at Freeview users, but if these people haven't moved to PVRs already, then demand is likely to be fairly light.

"Another point is price. Spend £300 for a YouView set top box, or £250 on an XBox or a PS3 and get VoD plus games, video, music and photos thrown in. Or even less for a PVR. And it only goes back a week. In summary, it is too expensive, too late and there is too little demand".

John Keeling, former COO at UKTV and former controller of SeeSaw, who is now a partner at Grace Blue executive search, added: "It has been a long time coming, quite possibly too long. We are entering an era where OTT services are becoming mainstream, however where YouView should have dominated this space it is now becoming increasingly crowded.

"With brands such as Samsung, Sony, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Sky, Virgin and Freesat already clamouring for our attention, the entrance of YouView could either be a defining moment or a damp squib. If both the product and the communications are kept clean and simple then there is a chance that it could cut through but with seven shareholders at the wheel I wouldn't bet on it."

Newsline commentator Raymond Snoddy thinks that "it has been a long time coming so it had better be great." Tweeting about the launch, Sugar, who chairs the YouView board, boasted that is is a "great product, trust me".

However, according to Snoddy "the real danger is that time may have passed YouView by and that now it will be one among other systems linking the computer to the television set - whereas at some point it could have been a market leader".

But in John Moulding's 'Editor's opinion' piece in videonet, he explains why he thinks the pessimism is misplaced and YouView will play a major role in bringing connected TV to the masses.

"For my parents, it will be YouView or nothing. I think there will be lots of people, including much younger, for whom the same is true. What YouView has on its side (besides the expected simplicity, which I am going to take for granted) is the strength of the brands behind it and their huge marketing power. Once the BBC is plugging this new service between every other show, people will be intrigued and presumably the retailers will help with in-store marketing.

"I think [YouView] could put hybrid broadcast broadband and connected TV on the map, as far as the majority of consumers are concerned."

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