Hybrid TV: consumers to benefit most

December 13, 2013 10.35 Europe/London By Chris Dziadul

kabelkiosk choiceHybrid TV appears as a key enabler of 21st century television, according to a new paper produced by Idate in partnership with Eutelsat and Orange Group.

The paper, entitled Advanced TV services for all, thanks to Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV Solutions, says that hybrid TV is already a reality, with dozens of broadcast TV packagers worldwide having launched hybrid services to provide advanced TV services on a national scale.

Furthermore, TV channels now use hybrid TV solutions to provide the link between linear and on demand TV. At the same time, some telcos are widening the reach of their linear TV services through hybrid TV solutions, with others doing so the optimise their video distribution, while CE manufacturers are exploiting the potential of hybrid broadcast broadband TV solutions with their next generation devices.

The paper argues that on demand and social networks are redefining the TV experience. Consumption of on demand video services, which include non-linear TV (especially catch-up), internet video/OTT and PVR solutions, though still low, is increasing. It has also moved beyond the living room and to many devices.

The paper in addition explains that the rationale for hybrid broadcast broadband TV is that it combines the advantages of broadband for delivering individual choice of on-demand content with the efficiency of broadcasting (DTH, DTT) for making high quality TV simultaneously available to a large audience.

Moreover, hybrid TV solutions require very little time to implement linear and non-linear solutions for consumers.
Crucially, there is no ‘one size fits all’ for the implementation of hybrid solutions. For instance, platforms such as Sky, DirecTV, Freesat and Fransat all use a hybrid broadcast-broadband set-top box top deliver live TV and on demand services to their customers.

On the other hand, telcos such as Telecom Italia, Deutsche Telekom, BT and Orange are rolling out hybrid broadcast broadband solutions to extend their IPTV services or to improve self-managed VOD services.

The most recent generations of CE devices meanwhile provide a user experience that merges broadcast and broadband services. They include connected TVs (Samsung) and set-top boxes (Roku and Boxee).

The paper provides a number of case studies that include not only details of services and how they work but also their plans for the future. In the case of the UK’s Freesat, the latter include a remote app for smartphones and tablets, along with the addition of film and music services and new HD channels, five of which will be from the BBC.

Meanwhile in France, Samsung and the Fransat (Eutelsat Group) FTA DTH platform will allow the next version of its CAM to run through any new TV set supporting the CI+ 1.3 standard.

Importantly, the prospects for hybrid broadcast broadband TV will vary from market to market.

In those, such as Italy, Spain and the UK, that fall into the ‘legacy broadcast TV’ group, where over 60% of TV homes are digital, hybrid will be needed to bring integrated advanced TV services to all households.

‘Intermediate TV countries’, including France, Poland and Germany, where 30-60% of homes are digital, will on the other hand see hybrid TV both provide advanced TV services to broadcast households and help telcos extend the footprint of IPTV services.

The paper concludes that although TV channels and TV platform operators, telcos and CEs all stand to benefit from hybrid TV, the main winners will be consumers. For them, it will be access to embedded high quality linear TV and on demand services irrespective of location.