The BBC and ITV have each agreed to contribute £750,000 to the YouView television platform for a further two years under their shareholder agreement. The modest sums and the limited term call into question their continuing commitment to the television platform, the main beneficiaries of which appear to have been broadband providers BT and TalkTalk.
The BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT and TalkTalk have agreed a new shareholder agreement for YouView which sets out, amongst other things, its governance and funding.
The BBC and ITV have each committed to contribute £750,000 to YouView each financial year from April 2022 to April 2024. ITV said that this mirrors its current annual funding obligations to YouView.
Started in 2008 as Project Canvas, involving the BBC, ITV and BT, the YouView joint venture was established in 2010 and formally launched in July 2012, just in time for the London Olympics.
YouView was supposedly an open platform with the potential to become the next generation of Freeview, combining broadcast channels with online services.
It mainly benefited BT and TalkTalk as broadband providers, who used it to boost their broadband subscriptions, and it never really took off as a retail proposition.
In many ways, YouView competed with the Freeview and Freesat platforms in which the broadcasters were also investors. These have recently come together under the direction of Digital UK.
YouView is currently available from BT and TalkTalk in association with their broadband offering, and on certain Sony televisions. It is available in around 3 million homes in the United Kingdom.
BT once had big ambitions to compete with Sky and Virgin as a television service provider, investing in sports rights in an attempt to retain subscribers. It has now agreed to spin off BT Sport in a joint venture with Discovery, which owns EuroSport. BT is now focused on building out its fibre network to deliver better broadband.
In February, Susie Buckridge, the chief executive and former director of product at YouView, was appointed to a new role as the general manager of group product at TalkTalk, which has also been promoting a competing platform from Netgem TV. TalkTalk says that it will announce new TalkTalk TV products powered by YouView.
Neither BT nor TalkTalk do much to promote the YouView brand, preferring to promote their own services, and the YouView web site has not been updated for years.