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Hybrid TV Digital Terrestrial TV Televisions HbbTV DVB-T2 / HEVC Set-Top Boxes

Hybrid TV Digital Terrestrial TV Televisions HbbTV DVB-T2 / HEVC Set-Top Boxes

The terrestrial television revolution will occur in the second quarter of 2022. Transmitters will be disabled in the old DVB-T standard. Terrestrial channels will only be available for viewing in the latest DVB-T2 / HEVC. For more than two million households, this means the need to replace the TV or tuner. Although the change does not apply to subscribers of satellite platforms and cable networks, thanks to social campaigns, more people can trade in their devices.

Renesans “HbbTV

The latest equipment is an opportunity to deploy hybrid television. HbbTV services have been available in our country for nearly a decade, but it has not gained wide popularity. To receive them, it is necessary to connect the TV to the Internet. Older models may not be able to handle hybrid TV. It is rarely accessed by ground tuners. Digital platforms or cable networks do not invest in technology.

HbbTV could be an easier alternative to streaming platforms. Hybrid TV app installation is not required. It can be operated by several colored buttons.

In recent weeks and months, the biggest broadcasters have updated their services on HbbTV. This may be related to the transition to DVB-T2 / HEVC. At the end of August, Polsat implemented Polsat VoD, which offers a very similar offer to Polsat Go, presented in the live broadcast.

On the service you can find, among other things, the news program “Events”, films, series, series, game shows and the oldest sports programs of Pulsat Sport.

In recent days, after the launch of one of Polsat’s channels on DVB-T, three options appear: the weather forecast, Polsat VoD and Polsat’s Christmas spot, among others, Krzysztof Ibisz or Dorota Gawryluk. You do not need to log into the Polsat VoD service available via HbbTV, while you do not need to log into the Polsat Go service, which is also available in an ad free form.

Telewizja Polska updated its HbbTV service for TVP Spo at the beginning of the yearRT. Later it was used, among others during Euro 2020. Until the end of December The public broadcaster plans to launch a TV catch-up service as part of the updated TVP Stream platform. Programs broadcast on TVP channels will be able to return again for a week.

Thanks to hybrid TV, you can now watch additional channels that are not available on cable networks or on digital platforms. These include, for example, TVP Kultura 2, TVP Historia 2 and TVP eSzkoła Domowe Przedszkole (as TVP ABC2). TVP Stream also provides access to popular programs, news services, series and movies from public broadcasters.

TVN The Discovery Group is also preparing to make changes to HbbTV. As previously reported, it is in talks with Samsung regarding the “land” version of the operator’s streaming platform. Even the operator’s channel appeared on the TVN Group Discovery test multiplex in DVB-T2 / HEVC. There is a trailer for the series “Pajęczyna” with a QR code. Refers to this production on the player’s website. The HbbTV app with information on show programming and a quiz has been available on the Metro channel for years. The Stopklatki app looks similar.

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The 10th Anniversary of HbbTV’s Presentation to Poland Is Approaching

We talk to Paweł Tutka, designer and creator of HbbTV Polsat, an expert and initiator of the implementation of hybrid television in Poland, about the prospects for development of hybrid television.

Adrian Gąbka, Will DVB-T2 / HEVC allow the development of hybrid television services?

Bowie Totka: In March 2022, it will be 10 years since the first publicly available tests of HbbTV’s hybrid television were conducted in Poland in collaboration with a nationwide broadcaster. Thus, HbbTV has been with us for a decade now.

I see the move from DVB-T to DVB-T2 / HEVC as a good reason to replace the TV with a newer model with a larger screen and faster processor. It is difficult to determine the final impact of this on the further development of HbbTV in Poland. Today, it is not known what decision will be made by a person whose current television set will not receive digital terrestrial television. Such a person can buy another TV that supports DVB-T2 / HEVC + HbbTV reception. He can also take advantage of the pay-TV offer (without HbbTV), thus resigning from NTC reception. He can also buy an inexpensive STB (set-top box) without interactive services, intended only for DVB-T2 / HEVC reception, where HbbTV will not be available.

The more new and faster TVs that support DVB-T2 / HEVC + HbbTV reception, the better for TV broadcasters who provide interactive TV services. The greater number of devices that support HbbTV translates to a greater technical scope. This in turn encourages TV broadcasters to invest in developing more interesting HbbTV applications.

How does the offer available in Poland compare to other European countries?

We have nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, there are some areas related to the development of interactive television services based on HbbTV in which we have been inspired by television broadcasters from other countries. In my profile of HbbTV apps produced thus far, I have several that continue to defend themselves despite the fact that they were aired a few years ago.
We also have many other innovative HbbTV projects on the Polish market. I mean topics related to virtualization of TV channels or applications with VOD content on NTC dedicated TV channels.

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It is worth noting here that each European country has its own individual technical requirements which translate into the physical number of HbbTV receivers. Hardware availability ultimately translates to HbbTV apps that are available in a particular country.

Reasons for slow development

What prevented the development of HbbTV in Poland during the past years?

After a very good start in 2012: the first tests of HbbTV … then an application dedicated to Euro 2012, we were faced with a situation where one of the major TV producers was in no hurry to enable HbbTV support in TVs sold on the Polish market. Enabling HbbTV support in TVs from this manufacturer was a very complicated matter for the TV owner. However, abroad, another viewer bought a TV from the same TV manufacturer – HbbTV was turned on by default. This situation prevented the development of HbbTV in Poland. Few devices on the market – this is a lower priority for the development of HbbTV on the part of the TV broadcaster.

Only when the necessity to support the HbbTV standard was included in the relevant regulations did HbbTV actually become available from most TV manufacturers. It can be said that this topic is closed in relation to manufacturers of TV sets.

On the other hand, other threats are on the horizon for the development of HbbTV in Poland. One such example is the concept of “HbbTV App Certification”. It is very difficult for me to imagine a situation in which a TV broadcaster, before publishing the HbbTV application, has to submit it to the “National Certification Center for HbbTV Applications” to check if it will work properly on TVs with HbbTV in Poland. In practice, it would be impossible to do so.

Another problem is the disappearance of the colored buttons on the TV remote controls. A lot of HbbTV apps use colored buttons (red, yellow, green, blue). The virtualization of these buttons makes using the simple HbbTV app a breeze – because instead of pressing a single button, you need to press a series of buttons on the remote control. This situation makes it impossible to use, for example, quizzes / polls or other applications where the reaction time of the viewer is important.

HbbTV development problems should also include the topic of availability of HbbTV signals in digital channels within community group cable installations – known as AZART. Often, residents of apartment blocks cannot install their own antennas for receiving DVB-T. The cooperatives show that a collective antenna is installed in a particular block. Unfortunately, what is transmitted in such a collective antenna installation is different from what is available in a given area in a DTT view. Often times we have a limited supply of a cable TV operator with the HbbTV signal cut off in such a “cable”.

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Decoder problems

There are no such services in many terrestrial set-top boxes, and in set-top boxes of platforms and cable networks, there are no such services at all. No problem with the latest TVs. What should change?

Devices provided/sold by paid SAT/cable platform providers are subject to various rules (licenses, individual technology solutions, custom software, conditional access…) and often HbbTV does not adhere to these rules, or may cause such receivers to malfunction. If a particular TV service provider provides access to its TV offering via a CAM module, it is possible to access HbbTV from the TV level, provided that the broadcaster of a particular TV channel broadcasts HbbTV signals on that channel.

The situation is completely different with regard to “set-top boxes” intended for receiving DVB-T2 / HEVC digital terrestrial television. The vast majority of them are very cheap imported equipment from China, the main criterion of which is the price, regardless of whether the STB is then repackaged in Poland in a Polish box, a good STB for HbbTV receiver may be similar in price to the price of the cheapest HbbTV, and in In this case, the viewer is likely to decide to buy a new TV.

It is worth noting here that there are TV service providers in Europe that use STB to support HbbTV. Thus, on the basis of HbbTV, there is access to services known to us from other platforms.

Are the recent actions and announcements of TV stations a step in the right direction? TVP has announced TV catch-up service, TVN is working on the Player app, and Polsat Polsat VoD has implemented.

Each TV broadcaster has its own strategy for developing interactive TV services based on HbbTV hybrid TV. I think such a case is very useful from the viewer’s point of view. At the end of the day, viewers will have access to a wide range of interactive services tailored to each TV channel.

The fact that a particular TV broadcaster will offer X service on their own TV channel does not mean that another TV broadcaster’s priority is or should also be serving X on HbbTV on their own TV channels.

It is important for a TV broadcaster to develop HbbTV applications on their channels in order to best serve the viewers watching the TV channel. The advantage of the HbbTV standard is the possibility of continuous development of non-standard television services.

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