YouView partner structure in doubt amid funding talks

YouView-logoUK pay TV operators BT and TalkTalk could emerge as the major shareholders in web-connected TV platform YouView as a result of current financing negotiations.

According to a Guardian report, the BBC and other UK broadcasters are planning to “slash their investment” in YouView, claiming that the service has brought more benefit to the two pay TV operators who bundleYouView boxes free with their TV subscription packages.

According to the report, which cites unnamed YouView partners, the BBC plans to pull support due to concerns it is using public license-fee money to the betterment of private companies.

YouView and BBC would not respond directly to the claims, but said in a joint statement: “YouView is the fastest growing TV service in the UK and all of the shareholders are pleased with the progress made in just 18 months. All seven shareholders remain committed to YouView and are confident of finalising the renewed shareholders agreement by the end March.”

The current stakeholders in YouView will conclude funding negotiations for the next period of investment in the platform at the end of this quarter. This follows a three-year period in which the total costs of the business came to £105 million (US$171.3 million).

Currently the 2012-launched TV platform is backed equally by: broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5; pay TV operators BT and TalkTalk; and infrastructure firm Arqiva.

YouView offers web-powered on-demand content, as well as advanced set-top features like a backwards EPG. Initially billed as a next-generation Freeview service, YouView claims to be the fastest growing TV platform in the UK, though BT and TalkTalk’s YouView-powered pay TV offerings have primarily driven the growth.