Google throws its hat into the HbbTV ring | Media Investment | Business
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Seven new companies have joined the HbbTV Association in the past 12 months, including Google – demonstrating increased momentum for an open standard for hybrid TV services.
sony googleassistant 20June2018
HbbTV aims to deliver both broadcast and broadband services through connected TVs and set-top boxes, and has been adopted in 35 countries around the world – it has especially found its footing in Europe. As an open standard, HbbTV reaches viewers across different platforms and reception devices, enabling broadcasters to maximise the reach and monetisation opportunities of their interactive services, in theory.

The new members include Google, European pay-TV broadcaster Sky, Italian public broadcaster RAI, Greek public broadcaster ERT, Italian technology solutions provider Kineton and Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer Skyworth.

“We are excited about these high-profile companies joining HbbTV Association,” said Vincent Grivet (TDF), chair of the HbbTV Association. “The continuing strong interest by major market players in our open specifications confirms our approach towards establishing HbbTV as a universal standard for hybrid broadcast and broadband services across all screens.”

More than 300 applications on more than 44 million consumer devices are using Hbb specifications to add features such as interactive services, OTT offers or targeted advertising to linear TV channels. The services are available, for example, through the red button on the remote control.

With the latest additions, the HbbTV Association membership base rises to 70 companies from all areas of the broadcast and broadband industry.

The involvement of Google comes as its Android operating system is used more and more to support digital TV initiatives. For instance, recently digital TV and semiconductor industry support service provider Ocean Blue Software (OBS) has teamed with hybrid TV firm Seraphic to develop technology for OEMs making Google Android-powered TVs and STBs based compliant with the HbbTV 2.0.1 interactivity standard.

The solution combines Seraphic’s digital TV browser supporting HbbTV and Freeview Play standards with the OBS’s and this is said to allow consumers to benefit from the best of established HbbTV interactive, catch-up and VOD services as well as Android apps and OTT video services. The solution supports both the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and Android TV (GTVS) powered devices as well as the Broadcom Android TV reference platform.

“We see Android becoming more important in both the retail and operator digital TV markets. Whilst more of the ‘must-have’ content and catch-up services consumed today are delivered via IP,” said Ocean Blue Software CEO Paul Martin. “Many broadcasters have widely used HbbTV services which consumers must continue to have access to. Combining Seraphic’s Digital TV Browser with OBS’ DVB stack for Android enables OEMs to develop products that support the best of both worlds, and demonstrates how OBS and Seraphic are best placed to help manufacturer’s deliver this type of product to market.”

Google’s involvement also follows news that Italian free-to-view satellite TV platform provider Tivù, working with OTT platform enabler Vewd, has deployed an HbbTV Operator App (OpApp).

The OpApp specification standard enables development of applications that create a set-top-box like an experience without a physical device. When the device is activated on the network, the customer automatically receives Tivù’s application, tivùon, which turns the set-top box into a customised Tivùsat experience. As such, this has broad implications for competitors to traditional cable TV companies (like Google) as they look to find a path to the living room without incurring the overhead of deploying CPE equipment.

tivù CEO Alberto Sigismondi noted: “This Operator Application dramatically enhances the usability of interactive services and the viewer experience steps up to the next level; narrowing the gap with pay-TV’s user experience but without any subscription fee for the viewer. That’s why we aim to integrate OpApps into the next generation devices from 2019 onwards.”