YouView apps will follow Apple model says CEO

Just minutes after it launched today, YouView – the broadcasting venture formerly known as Project Canvas – announced its new CEO, Richard Halton.

At a press briefing in London, Halton told reporters: "YouView is a brilliant new subscription-free TV service which combines the best TV with on-demand services and Internet content.”

From next year, YouView’s internet-connected set-top box will offer UK TV watchers Freeview digital TV channels, along with the chance to catch up on programmes they’ve missed over the last seven days.

The service will also offer additional paid-for on-demand and interactive services via the user’s broadband connection.

YouView will be subscription-free, with bosses at the BBC Trust indicating the necessary set-top box could be available for around £200. Devices may also be made available at discounted rates as part of broadband packages.

At this morning’s briefing, Halton, who had previously been a director of the company, said that more than 40 manufacturers had expressed an interest in developing products for the YouView platform.

Halton confirmed that YouView devices will use Flash, HTML 4 and HTML 5, but will not feature a web browser… for the moment.

Talking to media news site Paid Content, the new CEO said:

“The question that often gets asked is, ‘Will this thing have a browser?’… if, in time, the British public decides that’s what it wants, we will be able to do it. But, for now, we’ve essentially built a TV experience.

Halton said that the YouView experience would be inspired in part by Apple’s much-criticised ‘walled garden’ approach.

“In the first instance, it would be more like Apple’s app store. For content providers, it means you can create a TV experience that’s tailored for the TV set,” he explained. “The reason mobile apps work is because they’ve been tailored for the mobile. In a way, that’s even more so for the TV set, because you’re 10 feet away from the screen.”

Halton confirmed that a software development kit (SDK) for developers would be available “quite soon”.

Possibly motivated by concerns over Apple’s recently-published developer guidelines, Halton promised that any approval process for YouView apps would be “as light-touch as possible”, but added that “you don’t want to put one app on there that crashes the rest”.

YouView has confirmed that it has no plans to impose a specific payment mechanism on providers of premium content, speculating that methods could include anything from PayPal to billing via the user’s broadband account.

YouView is co-owned by a consortium of broadcasters and communication companies made up of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, Arqiva and Talk Talk.

In spite of today’s confident announcement, the way ahead for YouView is not entirely without obstacles. The platform may face investigation after rival broadcaster Virgin Media last month made an official complaint to telecommunications and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, claiming that the joint venture was anti-competitive.

This week, the platform came under fire from the UK Open-Source Consortium, which claims the combined might of the broadcasters involved would distort competition in the parallel market for operating systems.