Dutch pubcasters commit to HbbTV

The Dutch public broadcasters have committed to HbbTV, according to Bram Tullemans, senior policy advisor research and development, NPO, with the first pilot broadcasts to start in September. The pubcasters will no longer develop apps for specific devices.

HbbTV ‘red button’ applications will be transmitted with all three national public networks, Nederland 1, 2 and 3, said Tullemans at the Telecompaper Connected TV conference in Utrecht (April 27). These could include an EPG for the public channels, with ‘now’ and ‘next’ information, access the catch-up TV and many more functionalities including the possibility to create ‘my TV’, a personalised EPG to linear and on-demand programming.

It is envisaged that viewers will also be able to add social media functionalities, including Twitter, Facebook and Hyves, “But users have complete control over this, not everyone will want to use social media.” The pilot will link to existing web pages of the pubcaster.

The NPO, the umbrella organisation of the public broadcasters, have developed a prototype ‘lean back navigation’ with two cross bars, one for left to right and one for up and down navigation. “We have chosen HbbTV as it is the de facto standard – and because of the fast uptake,” said Tullemans. “Also, because it is a single development platform. The ETSI HbbTV specs are based on existing standards and technology.”

Another important reason for choosing HbbTV is that “the broadcaster is in control of all content”. So far, interactive TV has taken a slow start, “but with HbbTV we can give it a boost.” By chosing for open standards, the NPO has stopped developing device specific apps, “there are just too many different devices out there. At one time, we had to write more than 30 apps for mobile devices – so we now only offer mobile TV in a browser. We simply can’t do it anymore.”

One of the big successes of the Dutch pubcasters is the catch-up TV service ‘Uitzending Gemist”, which offers about 16 hours of new programming every day. The service is available on the web and on most cable and IPTV platforms.