Lord Sugar unveils set-top box YouView after years of delays

AFTER years of delays, new set-top box YouView was yesterday unveiled by proud chairman Lord Alan Sugar.

A joint venture by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva, digital channel provider YouView will allow the user to flick back through seven days of missed TV shows as well as browse extra on-demand content.

But eyebrows were raised at the retail price of YouView, which will set the purchaser back £299 when it hits stores at the end of this month – although broadband providers could offer their customers a significantly reduced price.

Lord Sugar said he expects this cost to drop to as low as £99 in two years, calling YouView just a “carcass” of the product it will be then, but the “next generation Freeview” has suffered criticism.

Greenwich Consulting partner Olivier Wolf said: “This was an underwhelming launch coming two years too late. Had this launched in 2010, the service would have been a clear success... but today YouView [lands in] a very different market.”

But YouView chief executive Richard Halton said: “Has the market changed? I don’t think there’s a product out there that does what this does. We’re blazing a trail.”

The product is aimed at the 12m or so Freeview households, not the tech-savvy early adopters, he added.

The cost of the project has totalled £70m so far – £10m per partner.