BT: YouView not ready enough to stop us selling BT Vision boxes

BT: YouView not ready enough to stop us selling BT Vision boxes
YouView - on sale, but is it ready yet?

BT has explained to TechRadar why it will continue to sell its original BT Vision boxes alongside the new YouView set top box, feeling the functionality of the latter is some way from where it needs to be.

The telecoms giant a is a key partner for YouView, but the company has taken the interesting decision to bring it in side-by-side with its BT Vision offering rather than as a new flagship product.

Confessing that YouView is not yet ready to deliver everything the company wants, Michael Barry, director of programming and creative at BT told TechRadar that this did not mean the company was not throwing its weight behind something that board member Lord Sugar described as 'a carcass of a service' at launch.

"Some time in the middle of next year we believe that YouView will be able to deliver what we need to multicast channels via our Infinity network and at that point all new customers will be getting a YouView box," said Barry.

Barry: "There are certain things we want to do now that YouView is not ready for, so we are going to continue to sell BT Vision as well."


TechRadar asked Barry if BT felt comfortable offering up the original BT Vision service alongside the YouView offering.

"We've been doing it for six years, we're quite proud of this product and people use it a lot," he said

"We've heard impressive statistics…the numbers are coming back that people are using this much more so we are confident the offering is good enough for some people.

"If you really enamoured with a backwards EPG and you like the sound and look and feel of YouView then we'll sell it to you and if you want the channels as well then we just can't at the moment so we have to study this.

"By the middle of next year everything that we want will be here.

"There are certain things we want to do now that YouView is not ready for, so we are going to continue to sell this BT Vision box as well."

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Hedging its bets?

TechRadar asked if it was fair to say that BT was hedging its bets by not throwing everything behind a YouView project it has been involved in from the off, but Barry insists it is more complicated than that.

"It's just we already were a live platform, we already were doing channels catch-up, PVR and on-demand so we pre-date YouView, but make no mistake YouView was founded on a discussion between BT and BBC and we're a major shareholder and major investor and we're absoloutely committed to the investment in it.

"You probably know it's late in terms of announcements that were made a while ago, no one could have predicted how long it was going to take.

"If it had launched as it was in the state it was, it would have failed. When you have four public service broadcasters together with two competing ISPs and bring them together to create a single unified business model, proposition and technology it took a little longer than anyone wanted.

"I'm going put my hand up and say it's late, but it's here.

"And should we wait? What would you do if you'd invested many millions as we had and you had it working to this extent and you were wait and the competition and the technology isn't waiting for you? Was the right decision to wait another year?

"Do you know what, next year there's still going to be things we're going 'ahh but you know TV everywhere that's the thing isn't it, can we bounce it from this to multiroom? So should we wait for that? Where do you draw your line?

"We had a platform it was working and we were going to commit to doing television regardless, but we saw and we believe that there are some real benefits for us to go down [the YouView] route."

BT's YouView offering will launch on October 26 with people who pre-order able to get the service on October 19.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.