YouView backers are to sign a £100 million (€117m) deal to secure the future of the online TV service with all seven partners – including the BBC – remaining on board as equal shareholders in the venture.
YouView partners – which also include ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Arqiva, BT and TalkTalk – are set to agree after protracted negotiations over the development and future strategic direction of the service.
Under the new deal the seven shareholders will each retain equal ownership – a 14.3 per cent stake – and have agreed a multi-year funding plan thought to be more than £100 million.
A major change in the shareholder agreement will see BT and TalkTalk take on a much larger share of the funding responsibilities than each of YouView’s broadcast partners. But the ISPs will still have the same weight in decision making. Under the current shareholder agreement, which expires on March 31st, the partners injected £115 million between them, covering development, launch and the first four years of operation.
The change in funding structure is in recognition of the tension that arose from BT and TalkTalk’s hugely successful strategy of using YouView to drive their ambitions in pay-TV. YouView was originally envisaged as the free-to-air, on-demand successor to Freeview, which is the main set-top box in about 12 million homes. Some critics accused BT and TalkTalk of hijacking the venture to their own pay-TV ends.