Project Canvas to launch as YouView in 2011

Project Canvas, the UK-based internet TV coalition created to drive supply and demand of online, interactive TV services has revealed that its commercial offering, to be known as YouView, will launch in 2011.

On Thursday, the organisation founded by BBC, ITV, BT, Channel 4, TalkTalk, Arqiva and Five, announced project lead Richard Halton as CEO of the commercial entity. Halton previously led the BBC’s corporate strategy team and has been involved in Canvas since the start, with the BBC spearheading development of the platform.

From next year, UK viewers will have access to a subscription-free YouView set top box that will combine digital TV channels with the last seven days’ catch up TV, as well as a range of on-demand services and interactive extras. YouView set top boxes will be available for a one-off fee, with no contract, and users will need a broadband service to deliver the content.

YouView, which expects to launch in the first half of next year, will introduce a programme guide that goes backwards as well as forwards, allowing users to see what’s on now alongside everything from the last seven days. The set top boxes will include a Personal Video Recorder so viewers can pause live TV or record content.

There is also a plan in place to offer an applications store to get users to adopt new types of services and levels of interactivity.

Research recently released by analyst house Informa Telecoms & Media predicts that platforms like Project Canvas will play a significant part in the future of the connected home.

Although certain device-centric strategies like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 have already gained some traction in the battle to control the living room, Informa believes that platforms like Google TV and HbbTV, with expected high penetration rates, services from numerous third parties, as well as significant resources behind them are the likely winners in the connected home. No single device or manufacturer will dominate the connected home, with closely fought competition expected between several key players.

Informa analyst Andrew Ladbrook expects that asking users to search the TV with a keyboard “Will require huge changes in user behaviour and could dampen its mass-market appeal.” While secondly, Google’s relationships with content providers needs to improve, though this will not be a problem if content providers see Google TV as a way for them to make money from online video, Ladbrook said.

“The idea that the device manufacturers will be able to control the connected home is just not realistic. Consumers want choice which means being able to watch a wide range of content. The notion the content is confined to one device goes against this,” Ladbrook said.

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