YouView's launched but BT won't offer it until autumn

Just to clear up what's probably a little confusion these days about the on-again-off-again-on-again launch of British IPTV service YouView, the service did launch—at least to some customers—in time for the London Summer Olympics. But one of its key partners--BT Group plc (NYSE: BT)--won't join the party until this autumn, according to DigitalTVEurope.

YouView, a partnership between four broadcasters (BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and ITV) and three communications companies (Arqiva, BT and TalkTalk (LSE: TALK)), gives consumers access to a plethora of third-party services, including TV channels, radio stations, on-demand services and OTT via Internet-enabled set-top boxes and an off-air antenna.

Its launch was scheduled, and then delayed, several times before it became available to British homes July 4. Those homes, it now seems, didn't include BT.

To make things even more mysterious, BT said it expected that the service would be attractive to customers "looking for the next evolution of the Freeview service" but didn't say how YouView would bundle into its existing packages of broadband and telephony products. Freeview, as a refresher, is a digital terrestrial platform operating in the United Kingdom.

While waiting for YouView, BT said it would offer its BT Vision Essential TV package free to customers who sign up for a bundled television, broadband and voice package. Normally, BT charges £17 ($26.65) a month for the package, but has dropped the price to £13 ($20.38) and made the £4 ($6.27) Vision Essentials piece free. BT Vision, as a bundle, has about 728,000 subscribers.

It will be interesting to see what YouView adds to the BT Vision essential package since subscribers can already pause, record and rewind TV, play catch-up with the last seven days of BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 programming and watch TV shows and movies on pay-per-view.

The service "is the fastest-growing digital TV service in the U.K. because it gives viewers exactly what they want: great TV, film and sport when it's convenient for them to watch," Alex Green, TV commercial and product director of BT Vision said in the DigitalTVEurope story.

For more:
 - see the DigitalTVEurope story

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