YouView, the consortium behind a long-awaited UK digital terrestrial and IPTV hybrid, has set a date to take the wraps off its first set-top box.
The project’s chairman Lord Alan Sugar announced the July 4 launch to his Twitter followers this morning. He added that early trials had had a good response.
A spokesman for YouView said next week’s event would feature a demo of the Humax box and would allow the ‘next-generation’ Freeview venture to give a status report and reveal what its next steps will be.
Although the details of the product are yet to be announced, this month UK retailer John Lewis listed the box as “coming soon” in its latest catalogue, and said that the 500Gb digital TV recorder would cost £299.95 (US$469).
YouView is backed by major UK broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, as well as telcos BT and TalkTalk and play-out specialist Arqiva. However, the project has already been hit by a string of delays.
Initially scheduled to launch last year, YouView is now not expected to have a full commercial launch until after the London Olympics this summer, although both BT and TalkTalk have been trialling the service.
In an interview this week, BT Vision chief executive and YouView board member Marc Watson played down the impact of the delays. He told The Telegraph this week that “missing the Olympics is no big deal” and that it was “more important to get the product right than rush it out to market.”
The news comes in the same week that Google said it will launch its web-connected Google TV service in the UK next month, two years after it debuted in the US, with Sony the first manufacturer to bring the technology to market in Europe.
Separately, UK broadcast regulator Ofcom has said that from January to March 2012, the most pay-TV service complaints it received were about BT Vision, with 0.27 complaints per 1,000 customers. The figures for Virgin Media and Sky were 0.07 and 0.03 respectively.