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the connected world supplement special report Supplement sponsored by


Connected TV - such a simple phrase and yet such a complicated, fractured market. It’s leaving consumers confused, some broadcasters and platform providers hesitant, while VOD players, TV set manufacturers and Web-based companies fight for market share. The paradox in many ways was recently summed up by the launch of UK connected TV platform YouView - in this instance a true hybrid broadcast/broadband technology. This was neatly described by one analyst as being both behind schedule yet also ahead of its time. And that’s the issue: we all know in the industry that integrating the connectivity of the Internet with the power of television - both in terms of reach and image/content quality - is happening. But the question that remains for many is: how is this best done from a broadcaster and consumer perspective? Keith Potter, CEO at Digital TV Labs, reports.


Driving HbbTV forward A


t the moment there’s widening fragmentation: Apple TV, Google TV, smart TVs, social media, VOD platforms, mobile app usage - I could go on -


means that content presentation and actually engaging with customers/viewers is more important than ever. Leveraging the power of established broadcaster brands is also important in this connected environment. The danger is that with so many platforms that provide alternative services the broadcasters and platform providers lose meaningful relationships with their viewers in a connected world. Connected TV - using HbbTV in particular - enables them to maintain and develop those relationships by providing interaction directly via the iDTV/set-top box/PVR.


Keith Potter, CEO at Digital TV Labs.


Services include catch-up TV, additional linear TV feeds, competitions, Internet- derived additional data and, in advantageous ROI terms, an evolving advertising platform.


HbbTV System


development at Digital TV Labs.


HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) has now become a de-facto market standard, particularly in Europe. However, this is not to say it doesn’t face any challenges - more of which later. While broadcasters in Germany have led the way - including ARD and ZDF - there’s also a great deal of activity supporting the technology in other countries, including the Netherlands, with NPO conducting HbbTV trials on both the Canal Digital satellite platform and Ziggo cable networks. France Television is pushing HbbTV


variant TNT 2.0 (the test suite for which Digital TV Labs supplies to manufacturers) with other French broadcasters also active in the HbbTV market. There’s also a great deal of interest across Central and Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note that the EBU has also encouraged take-up through the year by offering white label HbbTV applications for the Eurovision Song Contest and the London 2012 Olympics.


The advantages of HbbTV


HbbTV is a public standard and is vital to the success of connected TV. It


S30 l ibe l the connected world supplement september/october 2012 l www.ibeweb.com


enables content providers - whether broadcasters or not - to offer their services on a wide variety of standards-based receivers with no additional cost. A well administered standard will drive a retail market - just look at Freeview with its use of MHEG as a middleware in the UK market for the kind of success that’s achievable. There’s a desire to standardise the creation and delivery of connected TV to create a mass market, a market that’s easy for consumers to understand and take advantage of. HbbTV also provides services that


can be directly linked to the broadcast experience, indeed directly linked to individual channels with content controlled by broadcasters and this adds tremendously to its appeal.


The CE alternative


Most of the major CE brands in the TV space have now launched their own connected TV portals and they do represent a challenge to broadcasters. But these are presented as an app- based user experience that’s totally disconnected from the normal TV content distribution model. Broadcasters have the key advantage of being able to leverage their brands, content archives and, most importantly, to provide services as a natural adjunct to the dominant linear TV consumption model. These portals use proprietary apps that have to be rewritten for each


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