YouView vs SmartTV – is it really expensive?
Answering the criticisms
Since YouView was unveiled yesterday, there has been a fair amount of negative press about it. Much of this centres of the fact that the technology took far-too-long to develop (it was supposed to be launched in 2010) and cost a staggering £70m to develop. However, these things aren't of concern to a consumer today: the technology is here now and the money has been spent; there's nothing anyone can do about either of these things. What's important is whether this is a useful platform.
We've rounded up the biggest complaints about YouView and have answered them. We're not saying that YouView will be the biggest success UK TV has ever seen, but we do think some of the complaints against it are more than a little unfair.
SMART TV HAS ON-DEMAND TV ALREADY
One of the biggest arguments against YouView is that Smart TV already provides on-demand programming, with the likes of LG, Sony, Samsung and Panasonic building these apps into their internet portals. It's true to a degree, but the experience is completely different.
With a Smart TV, accessing on-demand content means launching the dedicated app, then searching for your content. You can't do this while you're watching existing TV, and you're taken to a completely different part of the user interface. Each TV company's on-demand service is a separate app, there's no linking between them and not every TV supports every service.
Smart TV is really good, but each on-demand service has to be accessed through its own app.
YouView supports every service, on-demand is integrated into the same EPG as normal TV, so you can browse and watch on-demand programming in the same way as live television. In addition, the search feature works across all on-demand content, providing an integration that doesn't exist on Smart TV.
£299 IS EXPENSIVE FOR A SET-TOP BOX
The Humax DTR-T1000 will cost £299 for a 500GB model. For a Freeview HD PVR with dual tuners there's no denying that it is pretty expensive at launch. However, it's only fair to compare it with a like product. The Humax HDR-FOX T2 cost £300 when it launched and is still Humax's top-of-the range Freeview HD PVR, with built-in iPlayer support.
The Humax HDR-FOX T2 has since dropped in price, with the 500GB model available for £230 from Amazon. That means that the DTR-T1000 is £70 more expensive than the old model and prices are bound to drop over the coming year.
The Humax HDR-FOX T2 cost £300 when launched - the same as the the YouView DTR-T1000.
It seems unlikely that people will rush out to replace an existing HD PVR with the YouView one, but people looking for to update to HD may well be tempted by the extra on-demand features. On top of that, BT and TalkTalk will also be offering YouView in bundles, with a monthly payment likely to reduce the up-front cost. this will allow both companies to better compete with Sky and Virgin Media, and more competition is no bad thing for consumers.
YOUVIEW IS TOO LATE
Saying YouView is too late is really missing the point. Yes, it took a long time to be developed, but the important thing is that YouView is a platform than anyone can use to make a product. With its ability to combine on-demand and live TV into one interface, it's likely to attract other manufacturers.
Then there's the option of TV manufacturers integrating YouView into their sets for the UK market. This will take longer to establish and negotiate, but would you rather have your TV's Smart TV with its individual apps for on-demand TV or have it all integrated into the YouView interface?
YouView is also designed to be extendable, too, with new content added into the mix. This means it's not only a platform that does what already exists, but YouView is also a platform capable of adding new services in the future. BT's recently acquired Premier League games being an obvious first pick.
New services can be integrated into the YouView EPG, just as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five on-demand services are now.
LONGEVITY IS THE KEY
The key to YouView's success isn't selling millions of set-top boxes in the first week, but rather stability and longevity. We see it as a platform that could well become the de facto standard for Freeview HD set-top boxes (PVRs and tuner-free models) and even built into TV sets.
It doesn't do anything that you can't already do via Smart TV or even plugging a laptop into a TV, but YouView makes on-demand TV easier to use, integrates it with live TV and provides a single search. Who wouldn't want that?