HbbTV aims for global acceptance

The European HbbTV (Hybrid Broadband Broadcast TV) specification is poised to become the global standard for hybrid TV as it gains acceptance across Asia and Africa, while becoming aligned with the next-generation ATSC 3.0 standard for digital terrestrial transmission. This has led the HbbTV Consortium, the pan-European body dedicated to promotion of the specification as an open standard, to launch a marketing campaign to drive its global acceptance. There is not that much competition in the fragmented world of hybrid TV, so HbbTV has a good chance of success.

It has already gained wide adoption across Europe and has spread across the wider region, including Russia, parts of the Far East and some African countries, that have already adopted Europe’s digital terrestrial standards defined by the DVB.

HbbTV emerged in France and Germany during 2009 with the ambition at that stage of stabilizing the emerging interactive-TV market in Europe and incorporating Internet connectivity so that broadcast and online content could be accessed through a unified user interface. Until then Europe’s interactive-TV scene was itself fragmented, with the two leading contenders being MHEG-5, largely confined to the UK, and MHP, which was adopted in Italy and subsequently the Nordic countries.

But these failed to gain much traction elsewhere, and so HbbTV represented an attempt to start again by building around common standards for the Web and broadcast TV to create a genuine hybrid, rather than attempt to create yet another standard. It was built around CE-HTML, a subset of Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) optimized for the limited computational capabilities of TVs or set tops. HbbTV then incorporated key elements of the OIPF (Open IPTV Forum) specification for broadcast, including a set of JavaScript APIs to enable static web pages to work inside a broadcast application environment.

Having taken care to avoid being seen as a European-centric standard, HbbTV has rapidly attracted serious consideration elsewhere, with both China and Japan considering adopting it within their digital TV specifications. Meanwhile HbbTV deployments have been announced in Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia.

Against this background the HbbTV Consortium has decided it is time to encourage these trends with a major marketing push, led by Kirk Edwardsonand Régis Saint Girons, who have been involved in HbbTV development.

Edwardson is currently head of marketing and sales engineering at Espial, a specialist in on-demand TV software and solutions. Saint Girons is currently CEO of httv, a provider of digital and connected-TV products, as well as president of the French HD Forum.

"Over the last several years, HbbTV has gained significant market momentum and international support," saidKlaus Illgner, HbbTV President. "We're very pleased with this growth and look to further increase the presence of HbbTV inEuropeand the rest of the world with a renewed marketing focus that will push hybrid-television services closer toward becoming a standard feature on connected TVs everywhere."