Eutelsat injects interactivity into head end in the sky

Cable operators in and around Germany will be able to deploy hybrid TV services providing on-demand and Internet content via Eutelsat’s KabelKiosk ‘head end in the sky’ platform, following the addition of an HbbTV portal. HbbTV is the hybrid TV standard sweeping through Europe at the moment, enabling set top boxes and smart TVs to combine access to broadcast and web-based content.

The new Eutelsat service, branded as “KabelKiosk choice,” will enable operators to deploy VOD, catch-up TV, access to news portals and local information, without having to invest in new head-end equipment on the ground. Users will access the resulting interactive services via set-top boxes or a connected TV supporting HbbTV. Eutelsat plans to extend support to tablets and smart phones later in the year.
Eutelsat is hoping to gain new cable TV customers by removing the need for them to make significant investments in their own service platforms and infrastructure. The service works as a “white label” so that operators can provide and market the portal under their own brand. They can also create their own sites with local news, RSS feeds, clips and promotions. There is an integrated Content Management System allowing operators to update content and applications.

“The KabelKiosk Choice service in Germany is just the beginning of a new generation of hybrid solutions that we plan to develop to support our clients — broadcasters, content providers and network operators — and their relationship with viewers,” said Marc Welinski, marketing director at Eutelsat.

The idea of the head end in the sky was pioneered by Comcast in the U.S. as a satellite multiplex service delivering cable channels to cable operators on the ground. Comcase called this HITS (Head End in The Sky) when it was founded in 1994, enabling cable operatoirs to pull down large numbers of channels without requiring large numbers of satellite dishes, antennae and other complex traditional head end equipment on the ground. Now, the name is applied routinely to services provided by satellite providers such as Eutealsat to cable operators.