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The HbbTV standard can support hybrid broadcast broadband services that will provide 80% of what consumers want from the convergence of broadcast TV and the Internet, and when that is balanced against the cost of applications development and time-to-market, that represents a good compromise for the TV industry. That is the view of Dr Klaus Illgner-Fehns, Director at the IRT (Institut fuer Rundfunktechnik GmbH, the central research and development centre for 14 public broadcasting companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and CEO for the HbbTV Consortium.
Speaking at the OTT-TV World Summit last month, Illgner-Fehns highlighted the importance of an open standards solution that is business model neutral for the development of hybrid broadcast broadband (HBB) services. He added: “Once we have established Internet-ready implementations it is quite simple to evolve and it is certainly possible to have more capable processing in devices that could support HTML5, for example.”
Illgner-Fehns highlighted the key benefits of HbbTV supported services for consumers including a backwards-facing EPG that takes consumers into broadcaster catch-up TV services, plus digital text. He also believes advertisers (and therefore commercial broadcasters) will benefit from additional interactivity, including the ability to link into online shopping experiences.
The IRT and HbbTV Consortium believes the connected TV services from the Consumer Electronics world have important weaknesses. Most importantly, they use different technologies, meaning a content provider has to build applications multiple times. “That is time consuming, costly and laborious,” Illgner-Fehns declared. He also contrasted the strong regional and local interests represented by broadcasters against the need for globalisation within the CE industry. The IRT is also concerned about where broadcaster services will appear in CE connected portals. “Is it the first page or the 17th page,” he asked.
Pointing out that broadcasters want to maintain control of their brand visibility, and need to remain the anchor for connected services, Illgner-Fehns said HbbTV provides the holistic experience consumers need, bringing together the over-the-top and connected TV portal world and broadcast TV. He argues that HbbTV keeps hybrid broadcast broadband services simple and makes them fast to develop, provides minimum requirements yet allows participants [e.g. device makers and service providers] to differentiate themselves.
HbbTV services are already available in Germany and the HbbTV Consortium says 80% of the broadcast market supports the standard in that country, with all the major channels covered including ARD, ZDF and RTL. NPO, the Dutch public broadcaster, has announced its use of HbbTV and services should also be introduced in France this year.
Announcing the Connected TV Awards, highlighting the outstanding achievements in this new category of television. The awards are produced and hosted by the Connected TV Summit, the world’s leading dedicated Connected TV conference. Awards supporters are Videonet, Plum Consulting, Sumtotal, Broadband TV News, informitv, Lovelace Consulting, CTOi Consulting and Strategy Analytics. The deadline for entries is February 11.
The second annual Connected TV Summit, May 18th & 19th, London is the only event to bring together the CE vendor, service provider, broadcaster, content owner, ISP and advertising communities to explore the potential new services and the business and technology challenges created by connected devices. This conference looks beyond the inevitable disruption to new partnerships, and explores the roles and strategies for different stakeholders in creating the post-convergence TV viewing experience.