Summary:

YouView is now asking video and audio portals and content management companies to apply to work with it on defining how content and services…

YouView logo, chairman Kip Meek, CEO Richard Halton
photo: YouView

YouView is now asking video and audio portals and content management companies to apply to work with it on defining how content and services should eventually be distributed through the forthcoming connected-TV system.

This first-phase process, involving YouView and applicants it will select against its own criteria, will produce, by springtime, what YouView’s calling “a standardised, streamlined process for making content and services available” – a spec which doesn’t yet exist, despite earlier YouView’s clearance by Ofcom and the BBC Trust.

The process will involve an unquantified number of partners. From December, YouView will start testing serving content using portals’ metadata. But content makers themselves, delivery network operators and transcoders are being told instead to sign up to a mailing list to receive information on the progress. They can then work with YouView after this development process is complete, it says.

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According to YouView engagement documents…

“We’re looking for organisations in these categories who have the resources to work with us in small technical development groups. We expect subsequently to extend this approach to other types of organisation involved in content provision, including web app providers and IP channels.

VOD content is required to be long-form, professionally-produced content and encoded to a television quality standard. AOD (audio on-demand) content (must be) professionally-produced and to a broadcast-quality standard.”

That’s effectively a way of saying YouView’s first content specs will be hammered out by JV members themselves (the UK’s four main PSB TV broadcasters), plus a few more. YouView will be born as rather TV-centric, and many in the industry think that’s precisely IPTV’s biggest opportunity.

We know that YouView, albeit without binding commitments, has already been discussing taking content from Lovefilm, Blinkbox, Shorts International, Blinkbox, Hivelocal.com, Looking Local, Tate Modern, Glastonbury, The Prince’s Trust, the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Oxfam and MediaTrust.

Speaking at Westminster Media Forum on Tuesday, YouView CEO Richard Halton said access for content suppliers would be on a “fair and reasonable” basis. But the stipulation about content length would seem to leave out, at least of the development phase, UGC hosted by the likes of YouTube and Dailymotion.

Speaking about the more web-centric Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV platform, Halton said: “Google launched to great fanfare in the U.S. – only, a week later, for ABC (NYSE: DIS), NBC (NYSE: GE), CBS (NYSE: CBS) to all be blocking their content from the platform – you have an inherent problem, where the platform is trying to compete for revenue with the content that sits on it.”

YouView documents state: “The organisation owning the (participating video) portal will design, control and operate the portal’s interface (within YouView).”

Humax, Cisco (NSDQ: CSCO), Technicolor, Intel (NSDQ: INTC), Broadcom and ST have been helping develop hardware specs, with Cisco and Technicolor taking a lead. YouView now has over 100 staff.

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