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Viaplay brings OTT and DTT together for hybrid premium TV

Swedish pay TV provider Viaplay has become one of Europe’s first to offer a full hybrid service combining digital terrestrial with OTT.

The operator, which is part of the Swedish media company MTG (Modern Times Group), has teamed up with French set top box maker Netgem to develop a dedicated Viaplay box. This delivers a range of free to air terrestrial channels combined with paid premium content delivered over-the-top (OTT). Viaplay says this is the first time a pay-tv operator in the Nordics has combined adaptive bitrate streaming technology and free-to-air digital terrestrial TV in one single channel list with seamless channel change.

Viaplay is using the Viaplay box to broaden its Swedish offering, and make linear and on-demand pay-TV content, including TV series, films and sports, available directly on a TV using a remote control. Viaplay already offered an online TV service, and the new box combines this with MTG’s Viasat DTT channels, all now available to multiscreen devices such as PCs, tablets and smartphones, as well as connected TVs, via a single log in. The box itself is a customized version of existing Netgem’s Multifunction hybrid STB, using its middleware to drive the enhanced Viaplay service combined with the linear DTT channels. The STB has an HDMI interface to connect to standard TVs, as well as Ethernet and WiFi for sharing multimedia content stored on the home network, with UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) for establishing service to new connected devices such as PCs and tablets.

The Viaplay hybrid service is different from OTT offerings such as BSkyB’s Sky Go TV Everywhere service, which enables subscribers to access their content online when away from home. It is also a step forward from hybrid IPTV services such as BT Vision, which are not delivering over unmanaged networks and provide linear services over DTT. Viaplay’s service is not just a TV Everywhere extension to an existing cable, satellite or IPTV pay TV platform, nor relying on a walled garden broadband infrastructure as IPTV was, and breaks new ground in delivering premium linear channels over OTT.