User interface

The user interface will offer users the chance to navigate the now familiar television guide in interesting ways.

"The most effective innovation in YouView's arsenal is going to be the seven-day-backwards EPG, which will place catch-up TV on the front page of the viewing experience," explains Lane.

"If the success of iPlayer is anything to go by, the public will very quickly latch onto the concept of being able to browse through programmes they've missed.

"We might even see daily newspapers recommending catch-up shows as well as tonight's TV – although probably not in The Sun or The Times."

YouView website
YouView website

Craven agrees that catch-up TV will be an easy sell to the public – who have had to deal with obstacles with the current services on offer.

"The benefits of catch-up TV are obvious – watching what you want, when you want, without having to schedule recordings – but until now it's been all over the place, he said.

"Virgin Media customers, for example, have access to BBC iPlayer, and other catch up to pay for the privilege; some TV brands have built BBC iPlayer built into their sets, but others haven't; and, while everyone in theory can watch catch up services on their PC, hunched over a monitor is not the ideal way to view TV content.

"YouView, by collecting the most popular catch-up services and making them freely available and integrated into a Freeview or Freesat set-top box, simplifies the concept beautifully."

Content is king

Lane believes that the range of content will eventually become a key selling point for the consumer.

"The wider range of on-demand channels and services will be slower to catch on, just as they have been for Sky – and Virgin to a lesser extent – although that will depend a great deal on the YouView interface, which we have yet to see in full," adds Lane.

"In the long term, the opportunity to watch premium TV without an ongoing subscription adds value, especially with strong brands like LoveFilm on board."

One of the major differences between YouView and Freeview is cost – not only in the box or television itself but also in the need for a broadband connection.

YouView

Bandwidth

BT has launched Content Connect – which essentially moves the cost of the extra bandwidth needed for internet television onto the content providers and other ISPs that use its infrastructure.

But there are already fears that this cost will be passed on to the consumers, where they may have to make a decision between a higher cost package that is 'YouView friendly' or a poorer service.

Lane believes that the high cost of the box itself (predicted to be around £200 at launch) is not prohibitive, and the likes of BT and TalkTalk – both partners in YouView – will quickly offer subsidised packages bundled with a broadband contract.

"It's easy to knock the predicted pricetag of a retail product when your own products are heavily subsidised by subscription costs, but £250 for a YouView PVR with 500GB or more of storage is competitive with current PVR prices," says Lane.

"If BT and TalkTalk start offering subsidised boxes with broadband that could also boost takeup, though it's to be hoped that BT has a better business strategy than it did with BT Vision."

But will YouView take off? The general consensus is that it will – although not perhaps at the pace of Freeview with its dirt cheap set-top boxes and quick move into integrated televisions.

"YouView is one of the most interesting technology developments coming to the UK, in that it will bring the concept of catch-up TV content to a massive audience without the need for a subscription contract," concludes Craven.

Competition

YouView may well find that it arrives in the UK to find a highly competitive market, with some major players throwing their names into an IPTV hat that already contains some familiar monikers.

Google TV is on the verge of launching over in the US, and could well make the leap across the Atlantic at some point in 2011 – although don't hold you breath just yet.

Sky on xbox

Connected televisions, bringing catch-up services from the manufacturers and their partners themselves, and both Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation 3 have well established on-demand services already.

Two other key names are also in strong positions: Virgin Media has the UK's biggest fibre optic network, and uses its cable service to provide instant and high definition on-demand and catch-up television.

And Sky is about to launch Anytime+, it's own internet-fed catch up and on-demand service in the UK.

Opposition

Much has been made of the opposition to YouView; manufacturers are angry that the user interface will be dictated by the partners involved in YouView and not left up to them, making it difficult to differentiate their products and other platforms are livid at the BBC's involvement and suspicious of BT's motivations.

With an Ofcom investigation still being considered, there could even yet be hurdles for YouView to leap before it can make its debut – tentatively set at the first half of 2011.

And yet, for the consumer, YouView is already looking like a strong proposition, with familiar linear channels from Freeview, the attractive proposition of true catch-up TV and, potentially for now, the prospect of other major players like Sky bringing more and more content to the party.