The YouView TV service will finally be available from retailers across the UK by the end of July at a cost of around £300, almost two years after the service was first meant to be available.
The set-top box offers around 100 digital TV channels and radio stations as well as catch-up services for the last seven days from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, direct to a user's television. Further stations may be added in the future, the firm announced.
It also offers HD services and the ability to pause, rewind and record live as well as a search function to find on-demand content, in a clear move to rival similar services from providers like Virgin Media and Sky.
Customers can purchase the set-top box direct from retailers such as Currys, Argos and Amazon or take the service from their internet service provider (ISP). Both TalkTalk and BT will announce their own bundle pricing soon, a representative for YouView told V3.
The service's launch was expected in both 2010 and 2011 but was pushed back by technical problems and in-fighting among the stakeholders. This led to the appointment of Alan Sugar as chairman of YouView to resolve these issues and launch the service ahead of the Olympics.
The chief executive of YouView, Richard Halton, said he was confident the experience of trialists using the device before its launch would be mirrored by the general public.
"YouView is being enjoyed in over 2,000 homes and the feedback from the trial is very encouraging. It confirms that YouView is easy to set up and use and different to what has gone before," he said.
"In many ways we've only just begun, YouView is set to evolve quickly and we look forward to working with new content partners and developing more functionality as boxes roll out into UK homes."
However, Olivier Wolf, an analyst with Greenwich Consulting, said the launch may have come too late to make a major impact on the market.
"YouView has finally been unveiled this morning, but for many this was an underwhelming launch coming two years too late. Had this launched in 2010, the service would have been a clear success: once dubbed the ‘next generation Freeview,'" he said.
"Today, YouView is launching to a very different market, in which all consumers have moved to digital terrestrial television and many of them already subscribe to various [over the top] services. Getting them to buy into a whole new service will be no mean feat.
Wolf added, though, that one saving grace could be the relative simplicity of the service, which could appeal to consumers confused by the different offerings from other providers.
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