In the 1970s a new television information service was introduced in the UK - Teletext. It offered a range of text-based information that typically included national, international and sporting news, weather and TV schedules and made a significant impact on the TV industry at the time. About 40 years later, its High Definition successor has been found, in the form of HbbTV – Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV – that regulates the interaction and convergence between two mass mediums – internet and TV. HbbTV services and products are already available in Germany and are scheduled to launch in other countries in 2011. Therefore, and in light of the fact Tvinci is currently implementing its first HbbTV compliant service for a large European operator, we thought it could be a good idea to disperse the fog around this increasingly important standard.

Introducing HbbTVWHAT IS HBBTV?

HbbTV is a new industry standard providing an open and business neutral technology platform that seamlessly combines TV services delivered via broadcast with services delivered via broadband and also enables access to internet only services for consumers using connected TVs and set-top boxes. In a nutshell, this 2009 industry initiative is a standardization of standards, providing a unified approach to hybrid television (broadband and broadcast services). It utilizes existing components to specify a profile of available technologies. This is done with minimum constraints thus improving its acceptance and achieving time-to-market benefits.

WHY IS IT NEEDED?

The co-existence of broadcast and broadband services in connected TVs is not a new concept, though until now it required the re-authoring of each new development by individual manufacturers. This has created not only a lack of uniformity for the end-user (user interface) but also a significant amount of drag for service providers and CE manufacturers. HbbTV is to eliminate this drawback, allowing service providers to offer their services across a wider range of devices and TV manufacturers to run more services on their devices.

With the undisputed awakening of OTT TV and the projected increase of internet connected TVs (46% in 2013), integrating OTT services to their offerings is a natural transition for operators. HbbTV introduces a new gateway for OTT TV to the living room, a gateway constructed from the broadcasters’ acknowledgment of the alternative content sources users enjoy nowadays. From the consumers’ perspective the benefits are straightforward: a seamless, TV-like service with TV premium content, combined with the internet’s wealth of content and the personalization options it offers.

HBBTV & TVINCI

The standardization of hybrid TV enhances one of the main concepts Tvinci has been pushing for a long while: consistency in content consumption across devices.  Broadcasters and Operators can now extend their offerings more easily, by leveraging HbbTV for the introduction of multiple storefronts (PC/MAC, Smartphones, Tablets, Game consoles). They hope this expansion will result in an increment of ARPU and a reduction in churn rate.

Tvinci’s platform is composed of two sub-systems:  the Tvinci MediaHub™, used mainly for content and business rights management, and the Tvinci MediaStore™, used for user experience management across devices. The architecture of these systems allows for a relatively simple HbbTV compliancy process. Allegedly, HbbTV has more of an effect on Tvinci’s front-end management system – the Tvinci MediaStore – than on its back-end system (MediaHub). Nevertheless, the MediaStore was originally planned to manage user experience on multiple devices, and hence its APIs are compliant with multiple standards. Thus, they were merely fine-tuned for Tvinci’s first HbbTV implementation.

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