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special report the connected world supplement


one, indeed sometimes for different TV sets within a given manufacturer’s range. This is a costly, time- consuming process. There’s also the presence of


YouTube and Netflix etc, but as long as content is king and the TV screen in the main is used for watching TV content owned by the broadcaster, the opportunity to steal eyeballs is available. Content providers will inexorably offer their content on HbbTV as it becomes standard on TV receivers. This will go a long way to solve the problem for them highlighted above of having to port their apps across multiple devices. Again, it’s important to note that


HbbTV enables the broadcaster to drive value-added content and services directly on the TV under their control, without the need for a secondary connected device - something that they only have limited ability to do using previous technologies.


The challenges for HbbTV


Vigilance and a responsible attitude to deployment are required to continue the early success of HbbTV. Broadcasters, as well as TV and receiver manufacturers, all have a vital interest in HbbTV being a success to avoid their world becoming a legacy content platform and to avoid the large investment and distraction of proprietary platforms that don’t have the economies of scale to be cost effective. HbbTV will be the first mass-market application platform deployed across multiple countries, so HbbTV content providers have the advantage of many compatible devices, but the potential disadvantage of interoperability issues. HbbTV is relatively cheap for


manufacturers to implement, but some industry insiders have noted that a self-certified compliance regime - which is what HbbTV is adopting - is akin to marking your own homework. Broadcasters need to work with manufacturers to ensure receivers are validated and compliant to specifications and so avoid costs and poor user experiences. Digital TV Labs, which is a member


of the HbbTV steering group and has written a great deal of the HbbTV test suite - and chairs its testing group - recognises the vital nature of product and application conformance. It’s vital that consumers receive a premium HbbTV experience to avoid switching away from the technology. We have developed a comprehensive test suite to counteract this problem. If we take HbbTV application


authoring and testing as an example, developers must check that their application is only using XHTML/JavaScript/CSS/Media that’s supported by the HbbTV specification. With many organisations now actively developing HbbTV applications, ensuring conformance to the new specification with standard web tools designed for non- TV platforms is a major challenge. As well as testing apps against the standard, with each receiver behaving differently due to different browser integrations it’s clear that developers need to test their applications on the widest possible selection of current HbbTV receivers to ensure a high quality consumer experience. We believe that while there will be


some market variations in HbbTV deployment with some country- specific requirements, these are likely to be kept relatively minor in order to maintain the benefits of standardisation.


The next version of HbbTV notably


The broadcaster community needs to be more actively engaged with the development and deployment of the standard in collaboration with manufacturers to ensure it’s properly tested, successful and dynamic.


introduces support for HTTP adaptive streaming based on the recently published MPEG-DASH specification, improving quality of video presentation on busy or slow Internet connections. It also enables content providers to protect DASH-delivered content with potentially multiple DRM technologies based on the MPEG CENC specification, improving efficiency in markets where more than one DRM technology will be used. Version 1.5 significantly enhances access to broadcast TV schedule information, enabling operators to produce full, seven-day electronic programme guides as HbbTV applications, which can be deployed across all HbbTV receivers to provide a consistent user experience. The latest advances are based on activity within the HD Forum in France as part of the development of the TNT 2.0 specification.


Conclusion


There are three or four key challenges that connected TV faces in general. The first is users not connecting their TV to the Internet either because they are unaware that they can or because running cables is not appealing. This requires both consumer education and wireless connectivity or an increase in the adoption of Ethernet over power lines. The second is that there’s a relatively long TV replacement cycle to deal with. The third is poor interoperability and user experience due to a lack of strict conformance regime. The last is HbbTV-specific: we believe that the broadcaster community needs to be more actively engaged with the development and deployment of the standard in collaboration with manufacturers to ensure it’s properly tested, successful and dynamic.


www.ibeweb.com l the connected world supplement september/october 2012 l ibe l S31


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