Broadband provider TalkTalk is to launch an in-house trial of YouView, the delayed venture to bring video-on-demand to Freeview, in early 2012.
TalkTalk revealed its launch strategy for YouView – a joint venture also backed by the BBC, ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel 4, Channel 5 and BT (NYSE: BT) – in an analysts’ update after revealing results for the six months to 30 September on Tuesday.
The broadband and telephony provider said it will launch a “friends and family” trial of the service in the first quarter next year, although the proposed launch date is understood to be in January.
TalkTalk will give about 3,000 of its YouView set-top boxes, made with manufacturer Huawei, to staff as part of the trial to “focus on the end to end customer experience”.
The public trial will launch in “late Q4 or early Q1″ – this means the end of March or early April given TalkTalk’s financial year runs to 31 March – with 10,000 customers set to receive the service.
A full launch will then follow with Freeview’s 8 million-strong customer base the “bullseye” for TalkTalk.
“The launch of YouView next year will be a major development for TalkTalk and we are on track to offer a value for money product of phone, broadband and TV in Spring 2012,” the company said in its interim results on Tuesday.
TalkTalk is hoping that the low cost YouView proposition will be enticing enough to either lure customers from the more expensive pay services of BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) and Virgin, or attract Freeview users “looking for a little bit extra”.
The company said it has spent £2m on YouView in the year to the end of March, and a further £2m in the six months to the end of September.
Each of YouView’s partners have committed to paying an equal share of a £115m budget covering development, launch and the first four years of operation.
YouView has a marketing budget of £48.4m earmarked, but last month it made head of marketing Tim Hunt and the PR team redundant.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.