IFA 2009 – BERLIN. Several members of the HbbTV consortium are showing a number of applications for hybrid television services. They include broadcasters ARD, ZDF and RTL, the Eutelsat Kabelkiosk platform and manufacturers including Philips and Humax.
The German public broadcaster ARD has already developed a large number of applications, including a programme guide, a catch-up service for the Tagesschau newscasts and access to a wide library of on-demand programming.
Colleague ZDF is showing easy access to the broadcaster’s Mediathek library, with hundreds of on-demand programmes. RTL is showing its super-text service, which it calls HD Text and also includes the possibility of news clips on demand.
Satellite operator Eutelsat is showing a special service of its Kabelkiosk platform, developed in conjunction with Philips.
On the one hand, the Kabelkiosk portal offers information about the services of the platform, while on the other various on-demand programmes can be viewed in cooperation with a number of broadcasters including MTV and History.
Behind the scenes – and not available to the general public – Philips was showing the next generation of its Net TV set. The new version combines the walled garden approach of the Net TV service with the open HbbTV solution, which allows red button access to interactive and on-demand services from broadcasters. Once fully developed, Philips will equip all its hybrid TV sets with the new functionality as well as make an update available to all current Net TV sets.
“The big advantage of Hbb TV is the fact that is uses the open CE-HTML standard,” a spokesperson for the Deutsche TV Platform told Broadband TV News,”so every broadcaster can simply make its services available to anyone who owns a set which can handle it.” At the IFA, a number of manufacturers were showing their CE-HTML capable sets which include, apart from Philips, also Humax, Loewe, Technisat and Videoweb.
Other manufacturers are showing their proprietary hybrid TV sets, including Sony (who announced their Bravia Internet TV service would be made available in Europe), Panasonic with its Viera Cast service, Sharp with Aquos Net and Samsung with its Internet@TV widgets.
From the flying start start HbbTv seems to have made, it looks likely that at least in continental Europe, the consortium is succeeding in establishing a non-proprietary standard. For the moment, every manufacturer and broadcaster is free to use the specification without any licence fees to be paid. (More details on HbbTV in the next issue of our premium publication New Television Insider).