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04-07-2012 15:30:00

UPDATE: UK's Internet TV Project YouView To Launch End Of July

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--YouView to launch at the end of July after numerous delays.

--YouView is targeted at all U.K. consumers.

--YouView investment by its seven partners has reached GBP70 million so far.

(Adds details throughout and comment from YouView partners.)

By Lilly Vitorovich

LONDON --YouView Ltd., a U.K.-based Internet television project backed by some of the country's top broadcasters and broadband companies, will launch at the end of this month after numerous delays.

YouView--which is a collaboration between broadcasters BBC and ITV PLC (ITV.LN), U.K. television channels Channel Five and Channel 4, as well as telecom companies BT Group PLC (BT.A.LN) and TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC (TALK.LN) and media firm Arqiva Ltd.--is targeted at all U.K. consumers, particularly those that have free-to-air digital-TV but don't want to sign-up for pay-TV.

The U.K.'s pay-TV market is dominated by satellite operator British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC (BSY.LN) with more than 10 million customers. Staunch rival Virgin Media Inc. (VMED) has around 4.8 million cable customers, while telecommunication operator BT's pay-TV service, BT Vision, has around 700,000 customers.

YouView, in contrast, will be subscription-free, and will combine more than 100 digital TV and radio channels with seven-day catch-up, as well as on-demand services and interactive extras. Most of the content will be free but some will be behind a pay-wall in a year or so. Consumers will also be able to record, pause and rewind live TV.

Lord Alan Sugar, a veteran of the U.K. consumer electronics industry, said YouView will "change the way people watch TV."

YouView will have 15,000 programs available for viewing, initially, according to YouView Chief Executive Richard Halton, with thousands more added each week.

Content providers will control the look and style of their own channels on YouView, and commercial broadcasters, including ITV and Five will show advertisements on their own channels.

The YouView set-top box will be available for purchase for a one-off payment of 299 pounds sterling ($468) from local retailers or from an Internet Service Provider as part of a phone and broadband package. But Lord Sugar conceded that the retail price could fall over time as with other new technologies.

U.K. telecom and broadband services provider TalkTalk--which is hoping to lure new customers with its first TV offering---will outline its own YouView pricing plan on July 26, TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding said at the launch. BT will also detail its YouView plans later this month, a company spokesman said. Both companies are expected to produce their own version of the YouView box.

YouView, previously known as Project Canvas, was originally due to launch in the first half of 2011 but the project hit numerous technical delays.

Around GBP70 million has been spent on developing YouView, according to Lord Sugar.

Write to Lilly Vitorovich at lilly.vitorovich@dowjones.com; Twitter: @LillyVitorovich

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 04, 2012 09:30 ET (13:30 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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