Somewhat unexpectedly given the problems that have beset the project over the last three years, YouView is to confound critics by launching before the London Olympics.
According to reports in the Financial Times, the YouView board—comprising representatives from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Cisco, Humax, Technicolor, BT and Arqiva —are to launch the non-subscription video on demand (VOD) service on 4 July as the project moves to a second phase of public trials.
YouView has so far declined to comment on the reports and there are no details as to who will manufacture the essential technology that any prospective service would be based on.
The project which has been three years in the making has attracted much derision for failing to meet launch dates and only a few ago key partner TalkTalk revealed that the service would fail to appear before the London Games, seen by many as the final insult. Indeed in a financial statement, the broadband supplier revealed that the YouView project would likely launch in September 2012.
Looking at YouView potentially missing the Olympics, a spokesman from Enders Analysis said at the end of April 2012: "The original logic behind YouView was pretty good: to future proof free-to-air television against pay-TV and ensure that it remained strong in the UK…But it is facing an increasingly competitive market. The justification for YouView is looking weaker by the day. The bottom line is: when is the box going to be available to the public and at what price level?” Responding to the critics, Richard Halton, YouView chief executive offered assurance that the consortium was engaged in final user testing with YouView already live in a small number of homes and that it would be extending trials to hundreds and then thousands of homes in the coming months.
In May 2012, it was reported that internal trials of the YouView set-top box had concluded and the service would now see testing among a broader viewing audience comprising some 350 UK homes. At the time the consortium claimed that it had received hundreds of requests from people wanting to try out its box, which is likely to cost around £200 at launch.