What was YouView?

FuturistFuturist Member Posts: 1
edited 3 May 2017, 11:39PM in Archived Posts
‘What was YouView?’

This Wikipedia entry from 2016 somehow fell through a wormhole in spacetime and into my browser. I’ve no idea which one of the many possible future universes it came from, but I thought I ought to share it with you so you can see how things will turn out there.


YouView started as the BBC’s Project Canvas, and after a rather protracted gestation, launched in 2012 in the form of a PVR. Early indications were very promising, with YouView holding out the promise of a platform with unrivalled ease of use and a backward EPG linked into the On-Demand players of all the major channels, as well as all the usual PVR functionality. This at a time when most competing devices could not offer a full set of On-Demand players, let alone a backward EPG.


However, it soon became clear that YouView did not after all offer ‘the usual PVR functionality’, with users finding that many of the features they had expected to take for granted were missing, such as Favourite Channels and Genre searching. And while the backward EPG largely lived up to its promise (apart from a distressing tendency to report programmes as unavailable when the relevant Player often provided them) the ease of use in other areas, as seemingly promised by the User Guide, turned out to be a chimera, and it needed a fair amount of knowhow to actually operate the YouView PVR and keep it running.


Added to this was a tendency for the early models, and even some of the later ones, to lock up irretrievably or fail completely, which would take all the user’s recordings with it as there was no mechanism to save or restore these.


Out of the early proving process, there arose two long lists; one of actual bugs with the software, and one of features that triallists thought the PVR ought to possess, but did not. However, it soon became clear that progress through these lists, if any, was going to be slow, and in the case of the features list, glacially slow.


Other factors began to impinge. The vast majority of YouView boxes were not being sold for free-to-air digital viewing and catchup, as the BBC Trust had perhaps envisaged, but supplied on subscription by ISPs BT and TT, who were using it to provide value-added (for which read payment–requiring) services through ‘Players’ of their own. And the very large tail soon began to wag the rather tiny dog.


It was also becoming clear that the technical design was somewhat limiting. The plan was that all add-ons, be they catch-up players or paid-for ISP offerings, be implemented as Players, so the core YouView software could be common and independent. However, it soon became clear that this was infeasible, and the software versions began to fragment by ISP.


Further difficulties arose when the ISPs began to want their channels in the regular EPG rather than their own sandbox; and while this was eventually achieved, the further aim of recording these raised yet more unexpected implementation difficulties, and the shiny happy people shown in the YouView self-promotional materials soon began to wear furrowed brows.


The player requirement, and the very unbrowserlike API provided for these, also meant that the players themselves were seriously non-standard, requiring long development lead times, and special treatment. A further downside was that this requirement was unexpectedly imposed on any provider of Freeview data channels who wished to appear on the YouView boxes, as the MHEG-IC that was now part of the Freeview+ standard for these was not supported by YouView. Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the new providers took up the offer, and YouView and Freeview began to drift inexorably apart.


Sky had very early on provided its Now TV for YouView, though perhaps not with the takeup Sky had hoped for. A longstanding complaint from YouView users was that their search results were swamped with Now TV results, which they could not filter out, and there were mutterings that perhaps this was required by the deal with Sky – and how would Netflix and LoveFilm, whom many wanted to see come to the platform, feel if their results could be filtered out too?


In practice though, this became a second bar to these providers, who neither wanted to see their results swamped by competing providers, nor to attract the opprobrium of those YouView users who did not subscribe to their services, just as was happening with Sky and Now TV.


However, all these problems were soluble, given time. But then a serious blow came from the BBC Trust in 2014, which recommended, and perhaps required (though the details are still obscure [citation needed]) that the BBC contribute no further funding to YouView, since it had strayed so far from its first intentions as a predominantly free-to-air and free-to-internet platform. Put simply, the BBC Trust felt it was subsidising corporate ventures which could perfectly well fund themselves, and that formed no part of a public service remit.


But even this blow was not fatal; perhaps it was inevitable that the coup de grace would come from Samsung, who alone among TV makers had been providing all the OnDemand Players from the big four broadcasters since late 2012. In that same 2014, Samsung introduced the backward EPG on their G Series ‘SmartPlus’ models, and largely took away YouView’s USP.


All that remained as a differentiator then was the PVR functionality, and Samsung’s 2015 H range with the twin (actually triple) tuners and embedded SSD storage outflanked this also. Not that Samsung, with its global reach, felt it was even competing with the UK-only YouView. It was merely taking care to address reliability issues in its usual thorough way, and to provide the wealth of PVR functionality and ease of use that its earlier false starts in the PVR marketplace had taught it were essential.


Even the major suppliers of value-add on YouView, BT and TT, had begun to chafe against the restrictions of the platform, starting with the lack of a CAM (Conditional Access Module) slot on YouView which had seen BT forced to retain its aging BT Vision box for longer than it desired[citation needed], and both ISPs turned elsewhere for hardware for their premium services.


By 2016, YouView had no real future as it had been originally envisaged, and lives on today, to an extent, only in the rebranded lower-end BT and TT offerings, from which all mention of the YouView name has now been expunged.

«1

Comments

  • churchwardenchurchwarden Member Posts: 795
    edited 3 May 2017, 11:39PM
    Welcome to the forum, Futurist.
  • Peskdale61Peskdale61 Member Posts: 83
    edited 9 December 2013, 1:18PM
    {{Citation needed}}
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    May I be the first to declare that this imaginative post is NOT me under a pseudonym.
    Despite everything I'm still very optimistic about YouView, and whilst I'm aware that many of my posts have been critical this is only because I really want YouView to develop into the most highly regarded "set top box" on the market.
    image
  • churchwardenchurchwarden Member Posts: 795
    edited 3 May 2017, 11:39PM
    Would we even think that, Gwatuk? (er, to be honest, yes....... image)

    I suspect that the poster - whoever they may be - also has honest hopes that this futuristic glimpse does not come about.  However, one has to say that it does have the ring of credibility about it ....

    Just wish I could find a similar time warp to give me the football results for the next 3 years - now that would be interesting.image
  • MadcottoMadcotto Member Posts: 580 ✭✭
    edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    i dont feel the need to tell everyone this wasent me as many would spot my unique typing style.... yet in 2016 the spellcheckers are a lot better ;)
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    Madcotto said:

    i dont feel the need to tell everyone this wasent me as many would spot my unique typing style.... yet in 2016 the spellcheckers are a lot better ;)

    You are truly unique, and probably will be even more so by 2016.
    image
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    Another new tag required?
    "futurist creating unbelievable knowledgebase - treat his ideas sceptically" 

  • Mr WiseMr Wise Member Posts: 12
    edited 13 January 2015, 7:25PM
    An interesting speculation about the future.
    Obviously written by someone with considerable experience of YouView.
    Perhaps one of the forum's faithful members teetering on the edge of disenchantment?

  • VisionmanVisionman Member, Super User Posts: 9,877 ✭✭✭
    edited 6 March 2017, 9:48PM
    Whist this was never going to be a bells and whistles box, perhaps the disenchantment will start to fade once the first wave of new players arrives...

    But the original post did give me a giggle.  image 
    I'm now happy with the disagree icon, because its gone.
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    Visionman said:

    Whist this was never going to be a bells and whistles box, perhaps the disenchantment will start to fade once the first wave of new players arrives...

    But the original post did give me a giggle.  image 

    Ever the optomist.
    I do hope you're right.
    image
  • RoyRoy Member, Super User Posts: 16,113 ✭✭✭
    edited 7 December 2016, 7:38AM
    Visionman said:

    Whist this was never going to be a bells and whistles box, perhaps the disenchantment will start to fade once the first wave of new players arrives...

    But the original post did give me a giggle.  image 

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define...
    These tests for COVID-19 might get right up my nose, if only I could get one
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    Visionman said:

    Whist this was never going to be a bells and whistles box, perhaps the disenchantment will start to fade once the first wave of new players arrives...

    But the original post did give me a giggle.  image 

    Ever the pedant!
    image
  • TomWTomW Member Posts: 507 ✭✭
    edited 6 March 2017, 9:48PM
    Interesting speculation on the future of YouView but I don't think it will pan out anything like that. For one thing I think BT and TT are clearly in this for the long haul. The OP does highlight many of the frustrations that us YouView users are all too familiar with, but I'm still hopeful that the platform has a bright future. I'm going to give it another 12 to 18 months and if by then we haven't seen some big inroads made into the list of bugs and feature requests then it may be time to look elsewhere. I'm not in any doubt , however, that YouView is never going to be a PVR for the power users who are hoping for DLNA and USB backup etc.
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    TomW said:

    Interesting speculation on the future of YouView but I don't think it will pan out anything like that. For one thing I think BT and TT are clearly in this for the long haul. The OP does highlight many of the frustrations that us YouView users are all too familiar with, but I'm still hopeful that the platform has a bright future. I'm going to give it another 12 to 18 months and if by then we haven't seen some big inroads made into the list of bugs and feature requests then it may be time to look elsewhere. I'm not in any doubt , however, that YouView is never going to be a PVR for the power users who are hoping for DLNA and USB backup etc.

    ...For one thing I think BT and TT are clearly in this for the long haul...
    Well I think that's what "Futurist" is predicting...
    ...By 2016, YouView had no real future as it had been originally envisaged, and lives on today, to an extent, only in the rebranded lower-end BT and TT offerings...
    And the original post is probably arguing that it is precisely because YouView failed (by 2016) to implement features such as DLNA and USB backup that it got left behind by the competition.

    image
  • RoyRoy Member, Super User Posts: 16,113 ✭✭✭
    edited 7 December 2016, 7:38AM
    TomW said:

    Interesting speculation on the future of YouView but I don't think it will pan out anything like that. For one thing I think BT and TT are clearly in this for the long haul. The OP does highlight many of the frustrations that us YouView users are all too familiar with, but I'm still hopeful that the platform has a bright future. I'm going to give it another 12 to 18 months and if by then we haven't seen some big inroads made into the list of bugs and feature requests then it may be time to look elsewhere. I'm not in any doubt , however, that YouView is never going to be a PVR for the power users who are hoping for DLNA and USB backup etc.

    I think it's more of a "you cannot serve God (the public service BBC) and Mammon (the commercial ISPs BT and TT)" thing, and YouView thus falling between two stools.

    And to be pedantic (sorry gwatuk!) there actually is provision for a CAM in the YouView spec, so it may be down to the box makers that nobody put one in, rather than YouView not allowing for one, as Futurist, whoever that may be, seems to imply.

    But we must all take care not to project our own hobby horses onto what is already itself a projection...
    These tests for COVID-19 might get right up my nose, if only I could get one
  • VisionmanVisionman Member, Super User Posts: 9,877 ✭✭✭
    edited 26 February 2017, 1:39PM
    The last time I looked (which was some time ago) The YouView specs contained two columns. One listed the 'must have' features, the other listed was an 'option' for box manufacturers. And the cam slot was listed as an option, not a requirement. Which actually makes sense for an IPTV services box.

    DNLA and USB external back up is almost certainly a no-no for the here and now. As for the future, who knows? But I can see Powerlines/Homeplugs eventually being supported.

    And now I'll get me coat...
    I'm now happy with the disagree icon, because its gone.
  • TomWTomW Member Posts: 507 ✭✭
    edited 27 November 2016, 6:35PM
    TomW said:

    Interesting speculation on the future of YouView but I don't think it will pan out anything like that. For one thing I think BT and TT are clearly in this for the long haul. The OP does highlight many of the frustrations that us YouView users are all too familiar with, but I'm still hopeful that the platform has a bright future. I'm going to give it another 12 to 18 months and if by then we haven't seen some big inroads made into the list of bugs and feature requests then it may be time to look elsewhere. I'm not in any doubt , however, that YouView is never going to be a PVR for the power users who are hoping for DLNA and USB backup etc.

    @gwatuk

    When I said BT and TT are in it for the long haul I meant that they're committed to YouView for the long haul. I think it's highly unlikely, given how much they've invested and that YouView offers them pretty much everything they need, that they would ditch it now or in the foreseeable future. Heck, Virgin are still using TiVo and that's been around for donkeys years!

    As for DLNA and USB backup I just don't think those are features the average YouView punter is ever going to want or need. So I can't see how those features (or lack of) will have any impact on the success or failure of YouView.
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:55PM
    But then a serious blow came from the BBC Trust in 2014, which recommended, and perhaps required (though the details are still obscure [citation needed]) that the BBC contribute no further funding to YouView, since it had strayed so far from its first intentions as a predominantly free-to-air and free-to-internet platform. Put simply, the BBC Trust felt it was subsidising corporate ventures which could perfectly well fund themselves, and that formed no part of a public service remit.
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/04/bbc-to-slash-youview-investment

    image
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 4 February 2014, 11:18PM
    That should clarify the situation considerably. :-)
  • CeejayCeejay Member Posts: 178 ✭✭
    edited 5 February 2014, 1:03AM

    Yes - futurist was definitely on the button there! Youview is heading to become a Pay TV add on to Freeview for BT & Talk Talks to make profit from. The broadcasters appear to have now realised this...
  • stormystormy Member Posts: 1,026 ✭✭
    edited 3 March 2017, 5:12PM
    Yup. Oh well. Really a missed opportunity while Youview had the broadcasters support. I am not surprised though. This has been on the cards a while.
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    gwatuk said:

    But then a serious blow came from the BBC Trust in 2014, which recommended, and perhaps required (though the details are still obscure [citation needed]) that the BBC contribute no further funding to YouView, since it had strayed so far from its first intentions as a predominantly free-to-air and free-to-internet platform. Put simply, the BBC Trust felt it was subsidising corporate ventures which could perfectly well fund themselves, and that formed no part of a public service remit.
    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/feb/04/bbc-to-slash-youview-investment

    image
    The Guardian have only just enabled comments for this article.
    image
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 5 February 2014, 11:37AM
    The Guardian article is patently a teaser. We'll probably hear more before long.

    Personally I see this as potentially good news, freeing up both sides, pay and free, to make their version of the box work well in the way they need it to work.

    Non-subscription YouView should be modeled on the Freesat example. That's got its own problems but it seems to have worked better than the YouView partnership.
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    The Guardian story, which may be pure speculation by "YouView partners who spoke off the record", is now being reported as fact!
    http://advanced-television.com/2014/02/05/bbc-to-cut-youview-investment/

    image
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 5 February 2014, 4:58PM
    But note the delay - unusual for that site. Since they're not citing the Guardian story, they may have sought and obtained their own (off the record) confirmation.
  • VisionmanVisionman Member, Super User Posts: 9,877 ✭✭✭
    edited 26 February 2017, 1:39PM
    This article provides a far more balanced view -

    http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/broadcasters/youview-funding-under-threat/5066193.article?blockti...

    Its commercial positioning! And the amounts the shareholders invest in YouView are peanuts compared to their overall expenditure.
    I'm now happy with the disagree icon, because its gone.
  • edited 8 January 2015, 3:54PM
    Visionman said:

    This article provides a far more balanced view -

    http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/broadcasters/youview-funding-under-threat/5066193.article?blockti...

    Its commercial positioning! And the amounts the shareholders invest in YouView are peanuts compared to their overall expenditure.

    That's great for those with a subscription.
    Would you care to share more of the highlights?
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 5 February 2014, 6:34PM
    Visionman said:

    This article provides a far more balanced view -

    http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/news/broadcasters/youview-funding-under-threat/5066193.article?blockti...

    Its commercial positioning! And the amounts the shareholders invest in YouView are peanuts compared to their overall expenditure.

    Subscription required.
  • VisionmanVisionman Member, Super User Posts: 9,877 ✭✭✭
    edited 26 February 2017, 1:39PM
    My apologies,


    YouView funding under threat 5 February, 2014 | By Alex Farber



    YouView’s broadcaster shareholders, including the BBC, are considering reducing their investment in the IPTV service as funding renegotiations gather pace.



    YouView - which is jointly owned by the public service broadcasters, internet service providers BT and TalkTalk and Arqiva - has cost shareholders a total of £105m over the past three years.

    Negotiations are now underway to agree funding for the next period with the level of investment to be decided by the end of March. It is not known if partners will be able to invest different amounts, having each invested around £5m per year to date.      

    There have been rumours since before Christmas of relations between YouView shareholders becoming strained.

    It is understood that there was an informal split into two camps, with the likes of BT and TalkTalk keen to invest in and pursue the platform’s pay TV potential, while the BBC was keen to focus on YouView as a free-to-air product, with an emphasis on generating as wide a take-up as possible.

    A YouView spokeswoman said: “All of the shareholders are pleased with the progress made in just 18 months. All seven shareholders remain committed to YouView and are confident of finalising the renewed shareholders agreement by the end ofMarch.”

    The news comes as the service closes in on connecting 1m set-top boxes.

    Earlier this week TalkTalk reported it expected to have distributed almost 1m boxes by April, while BT has signed up almost 1m homes. However not all of the boxes distributed are connected to the internet.

    I'm now happy with the disagree icon, because its gone.
  • plaxyplaxy Member Posts: 217
    edited 5 February 2014, 7:31PM
    It is understood that there was an informal split into two camps, with the likes of BT and TalkTalk keen to invest in and pursue the platform’s pay TV potential, while the BBC was keen to focus on YouView as a free-to-air product, with an emphasis on generating as wide a take-up as possible.
    Great! Let's hope these conflicting interests and needs finally get acknowledged openly, and then resolved in a constructive way.

    Thanks for the posting.
Sign In or Register to comment.