Following a test of push-VOD over the digital terrestrial network, France could launch VOD and catch-up TV services over the air sometime next year. But first, a number of issues need to be solved.
During the past few months, the French transmitter company TDF has conducted a test with the broadcasters France Télévisions, Arte, NRJ12 and TF1 which have now been concluded successfully. A similar test was carried out by the premium channel reseller TV Numeric. According to TDF, the CSA approved pilot has shown that it is indeed possible to push programmes to the local hard disc for later viewing. Until now, VOD and catch-up TV have only been available on cable and IPTV.
For the delivery of the programmes, capacity was freed up on the R6 multiplex to push the programmes onto the hard disc with a speed of 1 Mbps.
The service will be very limited, as the 250 GB hard disc used during the trial is capable of holding about 180 hours of programming. This means that the channels themselves will have to decide which programmes they will make available for the catch-up service. The programmes will remain available on the hard disc for viewing during a period of between 15 and 30 days.
The channels plan to offer the catch-up service for free, but for premium VOD content, the viewers has to pay. Before the service can become operational, two things needs to be resolved. First, a business model needs to be found and secondly, a technical standard needs to be set.
On satellite, push-VOD is already available on some platforms in Europe, including BSkyB in the UK and Sky in Germany. Here, the business model and technical standard is clear, as they are set by the platform offering the service.