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BT eyes YouView?

BT is reportedly negotiating to buy YouView – the connected TV joint-venture it shares with the BBC, TalkTalk, ITV, C4 and C5 and Arqiva.

According to The Daily Telegraph, talks have stalled on valuations, with BT initially looking to buy out the outfit’s other shareholders for £20 million (€23m). The paper says the parties are now discussing a value nearer £60 million.

BT wants control of YouView having become frustrated at its relatively slow pace of innovation in the face of new platform launches by rivals Sky and Virgin Media. The Telegraph reports the BBC has been reluctant to sell up, worried a sale would lead to criticism that it has subsidised BT’s efforts to develop a TV platform. TalkTalk would be willing to sell provided it can still use the platform to deliver TV services to its own subscribers under licence, according to the report.

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, TV and broadband expert at uSwitch.com says: “BT has invested heavily in its sports content, with this being where the current fight is being played out in the increasingly heated TV battle between Sky and BT.

“A BT-owned YouView – including on-demand channels – would be another string to its bow in the competition for UK customers.

“Single ownership of YouView is likely to speed up decision making and development and, we’d hope, make it a more disruptive challenger. Though if a buyout were to go ahead, we’re yet to see what the implications would be for non-BT customers who have enjoyed YouView.

“For viewers, anything that allows greater innovation, choice and value – which this could deliver – can only be a good thing. The buzz around the highly anticipated new TiVo box, for example, shows there is an appetite for fresh platforms.

“However, BT will need to ensure it’s not losing out on the benefits that come from collaborative innovation, or that customers with more specific requirements – such as YouView’s zoom functionality for the partially sighted – are not left behind.”

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