YouView IPTV service will not launch in time for the Olympics, BBC director-general said to the press

The launch of the much-awaited YouView, free-to-air IPTV service backed by the BBC and friends is moved to a later date, but it's getting close. The service should make its long-awaited arrival with a splash during the Summer Olympics in London next month.

Now that is not going to happen, a BBC executive lamented.

"It is true we do not have a large number of boxes installed before the Olympics," BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said, according to a different story. "We want a completely viable product that delivers from day one. We want people to have the same user experience on YouView that they have with the iPlayer."

The problem is, that’s a little hard to do when you have to distribute set-top boxes that connect to digital terrestrial TV and radio online for a free IPTV service. Store shelves aren’t expected to be stocked with the box until near the end of 2012 – and the Games of the XXX Olympiad already is starting on July 27.

BBC is optimistic about launching in time for the Olympics – a big deal everywhere, a great deal in UK – and even reported hundreds of boxes were tested in a wide-ranging test. But the technology inside the box not quite caught up with the iPlayer, the BBC on-demand catch-up service, which continues to add features such as a catch-up function that was announced most recently.

"IPTV turns out to be quite difficult to do," Thompson was quoted as saying. "People want a TV-like experience that they do not want a search box or quirky keyboard, they want something that feels like the TV but that gives them more options and functionality."

Even companies like Google and Apple – both posturing in the space of IPTV – "probably say they are not satisfied they have found the best solution," he concluded.

While the BBC, a public broadcaster, is the front company for YouView, the service is also backed by ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Arqiva telecoms, BT and TalkTalk Group.

As recently as last month – and certainly in February – executives from other partners are expressing optimism that the boxes are in the market and the launch will coincide with the lighting of the Olympic torch. Thompson has effectively doused all hope of this coming true.

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