Calls for HbbTV to be standard across Europe

Iñaki Ferreras ©RapidTVNews | 23-11-2011

HbbTV must be the general Connected TV standard for everyone, according to Spain’s national public broadcaster RTVE’s representative Pere Vila at the second Rapid TV News Spanish conference which took place recently in Madrid.
Vila said that under this standard users must stay on the specific channel when they press the control so the signal doesn’t go to the consumer electronics manufacturer. “This means that in order for the viewer to enjoy our content on the web, it must pass through our portal,” he said, making reference to Corporación RTVE’s complete website. In this way Vila reminded the audience of the importance of maintaining brand and interaction control when interacting with a content TV website.
He also announced that RTVE will soon launch on-demand contents on its website under the HbbTV standard and that the company is currently doing tests in a pilot project.
Canal+ Spain’s director Miguel Salvat commented that Spanish audiences are watching more TV than ever, with some viewers watching over four hours a day on average. He also told the audience that brands dominate the market “so we must make the most of it regarding offering the best contents” he added.
Jesús María Bautista, new developments director at Mediaset España, emphasised the importance of commercial strategies in order to exploit contents. “Only in this way will we improve our position over our competitors,” he said. Bautista used the occasion to announce the launch of the company’s complete website called Mitele which contains all of Mediaset España’s channels and can be accessed from any platform.
Carlos Biern, from renowned Spanish producer BRB International, was also present at the conference. He said that the multi-device distribution strategy is “essential” for the company because children are the future content consumers. Here the smartphones and tablets are the main content distribution platforms for the company. He also announced the imminent launch of an online content portal on an international basis.
The Communication and the Information Industrial Association (AMETIC) was also present at the conference. Jesús Casado, a well known representative of the Spanish TV industry, said that standardization is essential so that specific manufacturers cover most of the market itself. “But in order to standardize, it is necessary for consensus and hard work from the whole sector towards a unique goal ‑ to reach the final consumer” he stated.
Specifically, he mentioned the HbbTV standard where a legal framework is necessary. “It should be compulsory to implement the HbbTV standard all across Europe because, especially in Spain, there is too little consensus in the audiovisual sectors,” he said.
Finally, Casado stated that for Connected TV to become a success it is necessary for the user to have access to a broadband network with a minimum of 3Mbps and with an HDTV signal. “Although the ideal is 25Mbps real as minimum,” he concluded.
Nicolás Lecocq of Telefónica produced some figures for the company’s platforms, such as Imagenio Móvil having 200,000 subscribers, Terra TV having 300,000 users and the DSL pay-TV operator Movistar Imagenio achieving some 818,000 subscribers worldwide. “Today’s TV must be ubiquitous and social,” he said. He also forecast that in some year’s time Spanish pay-TV will reach 55% of subscribed homes.
As for the Connected TV market, Lecocq announced the placement of online services on the cloud and the arrival of Android and Blackberry as platforms working with Movistar Imagenio. However, the most recent acquisition for Telefónica is Microsoft’s Xbox as an STB in which the users won’t only have access to TV contents but will also be able to navigate by voice and signs. “We are also working in the development of interactive services over the HbbTV standard with TVE and Mediaset España,” he announced.
The conference was concluded by a round table on the future of HDTV via the different ways of transmission ‑ satellite, IPTV, terrestrial. SES Astra Ibérica said that satellite was the most appropriate way to transmit either HDTV or 3DTV contents, while the laSexta’s and Antena 3’s representatives both agreed that Spain’s DTT has too many channels thus preventing HDTV from developing appropriately. They also said that public broadcasters should be forced to broadcast under the HbbTV standard as an essential element in the development of the new television.
Finally they all criticised the non-implementation of the DVB-T2 standard by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce at least for the next five years, which they claim is holding back the modernisation of the sector.