The Project Canvas initiative in the UK has been renamed and launched as the YouView online TV service that is expected to launch during Q1 or Q2 2011.
YouView, made up of a consortium of companies including BBC, BT, ITV, Channel 4, Five, TalkTalk and Arqiva, will be able to access Internet-based content for free — but interested subscribers must purchase the set-top box.
The set-top box will be offered as a stand-alone product for current subscribers, but can also be bundled with new Internet installations. The price — and even the manufacturer of the box — still remain unknown, but some UK media indicate the box will retail for ~£200.
Each video will be available for seven days after it was shown live on TV, with users able to search, tag, and identity content. Ideally, users will be able to access YouView and find on-demand content paired with streaming movies, TV episodes, and other content.
YouView is the latest effort by companies trying to cash in on the growth of home-entertainment — and offering free content while charging users for the set-top box should be interesting. I’m curious to see if consumers are willing to make an upfront investment at a time when set-top boxes are coming down in price.
The BBC has receive strong criticism for its involvement with the project. Virgin Media has filed a complaint saying the BBC’s actions could be anti-competitive. British regulators are now expected to independently examine YouView and determine if it really is as closed off to competition as some critics now claim.