This week’s conference on HbbTV in Poland was an illuminating experience on many levels.
Featuring presentations from leading manufacturers, foreign guest speakers from Germany and France and – quite crucially – the national public broadcaster TVP, it provided insights into where the recently-introduced technology now is in Poland and its prospects for the future.
The first thing that has to be said – and one that was confirmed early on by Dr Klaus Ilgner-Fehns, the chairman of the HbbTV consortium, is that HbbTV has so far only been introduced in two CEE countries, namely Poland and the Czech Republic. However, others are considering it, and outside Europe it is attracting interest from such diverse markets as the US, Japan, Australia, South East Asia and China.
Clearly the biggest progress to date has been made in Germany and France, which were represented at the event by ProSiebenSat.1 Digital and httv respectively. From the latter we learnt that 11 channels in France already offer HbbTV services and that the country will shortly introduce the TNT 2.0 brand for the technology on TV sets.
Meanwhile in Germany, as Ilgner-Fehns earlier pointed out, 90% of the market already supports HbbTV and there are around 50 apps available.
And what of Poland itself? It quickly became clear that TVP is the key player in the introduction of HbbTV into the country, with the broadcaster having in fact set itself the ambitious task of building a hybrid platform.
This is clearly a job TVP cannot do on its own and it has already entered into a partnership with Sony and held talks with Samsung, as well as with set-top box manufacturers. It views its first HbbTV app, for Euro 2012, as a resounding success and is preparing to introduce further ones in the coming months.
If there is a fly in the ointment in all this it is probably the lack of a convincing business model, at least in the view of some of the leading manufacturers. There is also a debate as to whether HbbTV is a threat to smart TV and one that was not resolved at the conference.
All in all these are still early days for HbbTV in Poland, and indeed CEE as a whole. However, being an international standard and one that is growing in popularity, it is likely to be widely deployed in the region in the not-too-distant future.