Project Canvas to launch as YouView in 2011
Formerly known as Project Canvas, YouView is the official name for the subscription-free on-demand TV service and internet portal.
It's a kick in the teeth for early adopters of Freeview HD: Project Canvas - now officially named YouView - will not be compatible with existing set-top boxes.
YouView has been revealed as the brand that will bring a new free-to-air internet-connected TV service to UK homes next year. Previously, it was thought that the service would be offered as a free upgrade to existing Freeview HD set-top boxes and TVs that had an Ethernet port. This definitely isn't the case according to at least one Freeview HD box maker. We spoke to Humax, which confirmed that YouView would not be compatible with any of its existing hardware and would require viewers to invest in a new set-top box.
The seven partners behind Project Canvas - BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4, TalkTalk, Arqiva and Five - have announced the formation of YouView TV Ltd as well as the appointment of its new CEO, Richard Halton. In the first half of 2011, viewers will be able to buy a subscription-free YouView set-top box that will "combine their favourite digital TV channels with the last seven days' catch up TV, as well as bringing a full range of on-demand services and interactive extras straight to the living room".
Essentially, YouView will combine Freeview and Freeview HD channels with the catch-up TV you can already access on your computer, including services from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and five. There's no word yet on whether the catch-up service would be in HD or not. Halton said, "YouView is a brilliant new subscription-free TV service which combines the best TV with on demand services and internet content. I am delighted to be leading the team who will make it a reality and think it will change the way we watch TV forever".
YouView will introduce a programme guide that goes backwards as well as forwards. This will enable people to easily see what's on now alongside everything they've missed in the last 7 days, including programmes from broadcasters like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and five, which already have an on-demand offering. The set-top boxes will work like existing PVRs, allowing you to pause live TV or record an entire series at the touch of a button.
Viewers will also be able to simply search for the kind of programmes they like by genre, interest or locality, including films, sports and new content from the internet. Plans to offer an 'app' store will also give viewers new types of services and levels of interactivity with their favourite programmes.
Like Freeview boxes, YouView will be available for a one-off fee, with no contract. The boxes may be offered at special rates as part of new or improved broadband packages. You can find out more at YouView's website.