HbbTV is both a digital TV standard and the marketing platform driving it. At its root it is an open standard developed to converge broadcast, IPTV and broadband internet.

What’s in it for CSPs?

Will the direct window to the couch prove enough of an incentive for CSPs in the U.S. to adopt HbbTV? Viaccess—a DTV solutions provider and France Telecom subsidiary—says pay-TV incumbents are vulnerable to competition from new entrants, and it behooves them to make their wares more attractive to customers. Viaccess lists scaled-down software costs from open standard use as another key selling point. They see the additional benefit of increased competition among set-top box manufacturers driving down procurement costs for operators. “As a result, operators can continue to focus on their core business: aggregate the best contents and package them into the most appealing offers,” said Viaccess in its marketing whitepaper, “HbbTV Solution for Hybrid Broadcast/OTT Operators.”

In the aforementioned whitepaper from mediatvcom, that firm says, “In the future, every consumer will receive Digital TV, or at least DTT. This will be a huge drive for demand, allowing markets to reach a significant leverage in terms of potential users compared to interactive TV systems deployed on walled markets (DTH, IPTV…).”

Stefan Schneiders, head of mobile TV solutions at Nokia-Siemens, told me, “HbbTV provides opportunities regarding over-the-top TV offerings for communications service providers. Most CSPs would appreciate and require an eco-system which includes options for pay-TV requirements.”

Steve Morris sees HbbTV as the first choice for those CSPs looking to implement HTML-based TV. HbbTV’s widespread support from manufacturers positions it to fulfill a role as a critical platform upon which hybrid TV applications can be developed.

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As Morris points out, “More and more service providers are launching quality HbbTV services that are more than just EPGs or teletext applications and that provide a revenue stream. These are not just VOD stores, but online shopping, interactive ads and other kinds of pay services that can build a lasting relationship with end users.”

What’s in it for B/OSS?

The HbbTV coalition member roll features prominent names in broadcasting (like Canal+, France Télévisions, and TF1), consumer electronics (LG, Philips, and Sony) and software (ANT and Opera). Absent is the presence of the bigger OSS/BSS players; the HbbTV coalition names Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco as supporters, however Nokia-Siemens Netoworks is about the biggest name representing our space in the consortium’s members list. Nokia-Siemens is a founding member of the OIPF standard on which HbbTV is, in part, based. According to Schneiders, Nokia joined the HbbTV organization in 2011 because it “recognized a demand for fast implementation for HbbTV kinds of services.”

Schneiders says Nokia’s involvement in HbbTV stems from its role as a leading supplier for IPTV, adding, “Interactive TV services like HbbTV and other connected TV applications are local evolutions of our TV solutions.” Interestingly, the OpenHbb project—which aims to deliver open tools for application authoring, code validation, broadcast scheduling, and HbbTV middleware programming—is headed up by recent Amdocs acquisition Streamezzo. Recall, Amdocs acquired the rich media developer in May of 2010, ostensibly, to expand its digital device services offering.

In March of this year, Giles Cottle, the principal analyst at Informa who follows broadband content and devices, posted “Five Things We Learned at IP&TV World Forum,” in which he observed, “for now, HbbTV is solely a broadcaster play.”

With that said, in a climate where so many CSPs are wrestling with OTT and multi-screen offerings, it may just prove worth their whiles to explore opportunities in offering a consolidated service experience directly to the TV.

For OSS, the opportunity lies in software solutions to power HbbTV compliant set top boxes and services but, as mentioned before, the field of HbbTV applications is a fertile one. Once service providers learn to navigate and leverage the couch-oriented environment, opportunities to enhance the customer experience will arise. The interactivity of HbbTV, in conjunction with open standards, opens up a new TV-based avenue for billing and customer care, whereby the consumer can interact with the CSP with the same remote he or she uses to change channels or record shows. Looking out even further, interactive advertising, or even polling opportunities could be integrated into the mix.


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