Inside YouView: pushing the demand for on-demand TV

The technological trials to get the back end working seamlessly is one thing, you then have to make sure the user interface works for the users. And, in the case of YouView, you have to make sure that even if a channel is completely internet based it acts the same way as a traditional television channel.

"When you see the software on the screen it just looks like another TV channel but it has taken an entirely different path through our software systems," said Lomax.

"A lot of this software was written by YouView in house but we also had a lot of help from our partners, Humax and Huawei - there was a lot of work to get it in one place.

"We always make sure every IP channel is as close to a normal channel as it can be."


This striving for normalcy, according to Lomax, is the reason given for YouView not yet offering Wi-Fi on its boxes. He believes that Wi-Fi works in some places but "in an awful lot of households, Wi-Fi just isn't reliable yet."

"There isn't the consistently high bandwidth to offer high-definition pictures and it is really important that we have a reliable service. People are used to TV pictures that don't break up so with this in mind wired, for us, is the best solution at the moment," said Lomax

"If YouView boxes do become Wi-Fi enabled it is because we have worked out how to deliver really great quality pictures through a wireless connection."

Simple service

Despite this complicated behind-the-scenes technology, Buckridge believes that for the user YouView should really be about simplicity - getting eyes on shows regardless of where they come from. This is the main reason, she explains, why you can access catch-up content three different ways through the YouView: from dedicated apps, the backwards EPG or search.

"We have built a system that is very simple and the beauty of it being simple is that people will find their own route into YouView," said Buckridge. "They come to YouView based on their past experiences. Someone may come from a Sky background, where they have the mini guide, and that person will know to use that side of YouView.

"There is a process of discovery. We know that people don't jump into search unless they are more technically minded. It is definitely different routes for different folks.

"We have a role of educating users and this will help with the evolution of YouView. As we find out more about how users use it, we can make sure that they are falling upon those areas in a better way."


It's not just YouView educating its users, though, but users educating the company. According to Buckridge user feedback has been essential in bringing some of the new YouView features to the market.

"We initially started off with only on-demand search and thought that would probably be OK for a while but it turned out that there was quite a lot of noise for opening search out to all content on the box, so that's what we did," she explained.

"And then there is the app. When we first launched YouView, the answer to the question of 'when we were going to get into apps?' was always a bit vague. But there was a lot of people asking for this so we set up a dedicated team in house and released the application because of public demand.

"We have a role of educating users and this will help with the evolution of YouView"

"We were able to deliver through the app things that we originally wanted to deliver with the box. We have been doing quite a bit of work surrounding accessibility, working really closely with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of the Blind) and with Scope and we have added a number of features that will help blind users and users with other disabilities.

"Going forward the role of the app will be really interesting. The idea that it may become your main route into the TV platform - it's really exciting in that sense."

Despite the numerous delays YouView has had over the years, and media hubbub surrounding the platform - fueled by the arrival of Alan Sugar as brand ambassador and his subsequent departure - Buckridge believes that since launch YouView has proved itself to be a viable alternative in the free-to-air TV market in the UK and one that is genuinely changing the perception of how television is viewed.

"We have proved our worth. We have happy shareholders and customers - the response we have had to the service has been really positive," explained Buckridge.

"The fact that we have IP channels is huge. It really does make YouView unique and we delivered all of that on time.

"What is changing now is the perception of YouView. As well as it being a reliable and viable TV platform, it is now seen to be innovative."

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.