Julian Clover joins the launch of the most-anticipated product since Freeview.
The lighting at the registration desk made it feel like I was walking into Lord Sugar’s boardroom on his TV show The Apprentice.
Inside the old County Hall – surely the only building in the world to house both a Marriott and a Premier Inn – Lord Sugar and the YouView chief executive Richard Halton flanked on either side by the leaders of the broadcasters and telcos that are hoping YouView will become the next thing in television.
My fellow hacks reverted to type. The Daily Telegraph wanting to know how much public money had been spent on the project – despite bringing in telcos BT and TalkTalk, YouView has remained with the BBC proper, rather than being handed on to the commercial division BBC Worldwide. The Express was concerned with the protection of children.
There were other questions that needed to be answered; for all the hype around social media there was no real mention of this in the briefing. The same for second screen, arguably the perfect companion for the new Humax box.
The demonstration was excellent and with the presence of all the UK’s major broadcasters in an easy to use interface, YouView might almost be worth the £299 asking price.
It’s just that when Freeview HD launched it wasn’t until integrated televisions became available that the numbers began to rise. Lord Sugar says an IDTV is on the list, but not before a stripped down version of the DTT PVR is put in place.
The ability to search for an ITV show while watching something on the BBC iPlayer, while found on the HTML version, is a stroke of genius. Users of TiVo may say they have that feature already, but any move away from the silo mentality has to be welcomed.
We also have the curiosity of three projects in which the BBC and ITV are partners taking three different routes. Freest has plans for a new generation box that draws on HbbTV, while Lord Sugar’s expressed desire to replace Freeview will not go down too well with the established DTT platform. If YouView is to replace Freeview, clearly nobody has told MD Ilse Howling.