Sugar unveils new TV service (but tells customers to wait for the price to drop)


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The Independent Online

Lord Sugar unveiled the much-awaited YouView internet-supported TV service yesterday – but made an unbusinesslike gaffe by telling customers they could probably buy the system for a third of the price if they waited two years.

The Amstrad founder announced that YouView would go on sale at the end of this month for £299, a higher price than expected.

"Will I be surprised in two years time if the boxes in the retail channels will be £99? Not really, you know what it's like in the consumer electronics industry," he said.

YouView, seen as the successor service to the Freeview platform, was revealed at a grand ceremony at the London Film Museum.

Seven partners – the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, BT, Channel 5, Talk Talk and Arqiva – have so far invested £10m each in the scheme. The service will allow easy access to TV on-demand services.

YouView announced yesterday that it was in discussions with 300 additional content partners – likely to include arts organisations and charities – who could potentially transform the viewing experience. But the initial launch of YouView is a cautious one and based chiefly on its simplicity of use.

"You can't get anything easier than this," said Lord Sugar, pictured.

Again encouraging consumers to wait and see, he admitted the service contained a "minimum of facilities and features on there at the moment" but had potential to grow, describing it as a "template".

He celebrated YouView as a British technological success story, although the box that is being sold at launch is produced by Korean manufacturer Humax. Boxes are being made for BT and Talk Talk, but will not be ready for the launch.

YouView allows users to watch current Freeview channels as well as access major on-demand services such as iPLayer and 4oD. Viewers will be able to scroll back for a week to watch programmes they missed, as well as forward to record shows in the schedules ahead.

Other platforms, such as Virgin Media, already provide similar features – but YouView does not require a subscription.