YouView Opens Engagement with Content Providers

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[Editor's note: A video of YouView CTO Anthony Rose's keynote from this year's Streaming Media Europe is posted at the end of this article.]

YouView, the UK's hybrid internet TV project led by a consortia of terrestrial broadcasters, has formally invited content providers to work with its technical team to develop and test the processes for making content available via YouView.

The programme will be extended to other types of content, including web applications and IP channels, as the technical environment develops.

On its website ( YouView has published six documents which outline two different levels of engagement. The documents are targeted at: Audio/Video-On-Demand (AOD/VOD) Portal providers; Other content providers (e.g. IP channel providers, broadcast channels, web app developers and production companies); End-to-End Content Enablers; CDNs, and Transcoding Vendors.

The levels of engagement are either to work with YouView on technical development or to register an interest in involvement with YouView for updates on the availability of tools and guidelines as they develop.

"Our ambition is to open up the TV screen to content providers who until now have been unable to build an audience, bringing viewers a brilliant choice of content," said Richard Halton, CEO, YouView. "YouView is creating an open environment for content providers to play in and this will take some technical innovation. To develop the most effective processes for content providers we need to at first work closely with a few that can prove our model and ensure it's scalable. Our plan is to extend the programme out as we start to build common expertise and get more great content on board."

Endemol UK, Mint Digital Maverick, and Somethin' Else are among independent producers to have already been allocated initial development funds to brainstorm projects for YouView.

"It's playtime for ideas but it's also worth asking ‘why not just do that on the internet?'," says Paul Bennun, director,  Somethin' Else. "If an idea doesn't work on the internet then why would it work on a TV? Users don't care about apps; they care about compelling content."

Given its avowedly TV-centric view of the CTV experience, YouView's main application will be catch-up services, helping to drive revenues and an appointment to view back to its broadcaster shareholders.

"Content providers outside of the major terrestrials need to look at multiple distribution approaches," says Perform joint-CEO Oliver Slipper. He would like to adapt Perform's ad-supported ePlayer, which powers online sports videos for national newspaper websites, to YouView.

Applications have not historically proved to be a success over the TV and until the SDK for YouView's app store is released developers are left to speculate about what might work. The new initiative is designed to allay those fears by offering to work with the industry and create the content application layer.

YouView will deliver straightforward VOD opportunities for content suppliers like LoveFilm as well as digital services from Skype, YouTube, or Facebook.

However, the app SDK will ostensibly provide a way for content owners and brands, hitherto priced out of digital TV platforms, to gain access to the living room.

This could mean anything from linking interactivity directly to a linear show, offering red-button style access to HD or ‘behind the scenes' content or ‘mash-ups' of video with blogs.

"People have yet to explore how a multiple user big screen will interact with applications and technology that are very often completely personal," warns Bennum. With that in mind he believes that initially successful CTV applications are going to be powerful new forms of VOD or family based interactive content.

YouView gives no date for release of its platform which is still expected to be in the late spring.

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