Lord Alan Sugar is known to millions in the UK for yelling “Yer fired!” to hopefuls on TV’s The Apprenctice. Now it appears that YouView, the planned UK Internet TV service that combines a standard PVR and catch-up services with a TV-based apps platform, could suffer the same treatment.
The Telegraph’s Emma Barnett (whose un-named sources on YouView have been accurate in the past) reports that Lord Sugar, who recently came on board at YouView as Chairman, is set to “Cure or kill off YouView”. The service was originally due to launch last year, was rescheduled for 2011 and is now delayed until next year.
Sugar is said to be concentrating on ‘cutting through the nonsense’ and “getting YouView on the shelves…especially after the millions that have already been spent on the venture,” which is backed by major UK TV networks BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and technology companies BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva.
Creating a working and affordable YouView box for retail is reportedly proving a challenge to the team behind the YouView. A source told The Telegraph, “If (Sugar) can’t see a way to do it – then he will feedback quickly to the shareholders and kill off the whole thing.”
We approached YouView for comment on the story and an a spokesperson told us “Lord Sugar is committed to the successful launch of YouView to UK homes and there is no change to YouView’s launch date.”
If it launches relatively soon, its brand recognition as the next generation of free-to-air digital TV service Freeview may well push it to success. However, US Internet TV offerings from the likes of Google, Apple and Roku are likely to be looking to make a serious push into the UK market soon. That means that delays to YouView reduce its chances of success – especially if other players manage to sign up major UK TV brands frustrated with YouView’s delays. In that case, even Sugar’s strongest support might not save it.