YouView on again with 'launch event' set for next week

Britain's on-again, off-again YouView IPTV service is apparently on-again, according to multiple reports. Believe it or not--and if you've ready any previous reports you might have a hard time--it could even be ready in time for the Olympics later in July.

All of which is strange information considering many just a few weeks ago had stuck a fork in the service and declared it done. Now, according to Reg Hardware, YouView's not only kicking off an in-home trial but is "set to reveal the timetable for … launch, presumably timed to coincide with the summer's Olympic coverage."

Just last week, BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said in a Variety story that YouView "will not have a large number of boxes out before the Olympics" and wants "a completely stable product that delivers from day one. We want people to have the same experience on YouView that they had with iPlayer." The implication was that without the necessary boxes and subscriber stability, the service wouldn't make it on time for the Olympics, which begin July 27 in London.

Now Broadband TV News now reports that Humax has working set-top boxes to show off at the launch event even though "plentiful supplies of any receiver are not expected in the shops for several weeks … while YouView continues to undergo market testing." Cisco and Technicolor are also set to build set-tops.

The lack of equipment has always been a bugaboo for the service, which is being driven by broadcasters BBC, ITV and Arqiva along with ISPs BT and Talk Talk. It might still be a problem but it's not stopping the trial launch even if the number of subscribers able to tap into the Olympics will be minimal and has been capped after an "overwhelming response," the BTN story said.

YouView uses a Linux-based hardware platform for catch-up TV services that include BBC iPlayer—a crucial element that was somewhat late to the YouView game. The platform was originally due to launch in 2010 but technical difficulties, among other things, continued to push it back. In the meantime, the iPlayer became available in a wide variety of devices including smart TVs, set-top boxes, games consoles, smartphones and tablets, diminishing, at least in some critics' eyes, the value of the YouView selling proposition.

Still, if YouView goes ahead—and with all the previous back-and-forth it's tough to say for sure it will—it will be with 70 digital channels from Freeview, seven days' worth of catch-up, series recording and a multiplicity of on-demand content.

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