Dutch pubcasters step up HbbTV efforts

May 31, 2014 09.59 Europe/London By Robert Briel

HbbTVNOSWorldCupThe Dutch public broadcasters are stepping up their efforts to launch new HbbTV services, despite the fact that major cablers Ziggo and UPC do not distribute the service.

At the moment, the three national Dutch channels are offering the catch-up TV service Uitzending Gemist looking back seven days, the EPG and live streams of the national radio stations. They are now adding a HbbTV app for the NOS newscasts, which offers additional videos on-demand.

For the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, NOS will launch a special sports app, offering video replays of highlights and goals, statistics, and more information.

This summer, the broadcasters, under the NPO umbrella, will also offer the new premium VOD service NPO Plus using the HbbTV standard. The broadcaster also plan to launch virtual sign language for the hard of hearing.

“Just as we did with the introduction of teletext, widescreen, HD TV and Uitzendinggemist we now start to offer interactive TV for an even richer viewing experience,” said Henk Hagoort, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NPO.

“Our viewers now have access to a wealth of information with just a press of a button. The new TV night is a combination of classic TV viewing, delayed viewing and retrieving additional information. With Hybrid TV we are responding to the new viewing habits of our audience.”

Lara Ankersmit, head of digital media at NOS added: “HbbTV offers the ability to watch live and on demand TV combined on a single screen. Our participation is an experiment to see how we can offer our videos through these interactive services and how new ways of watching TV are developing.”

HbbTV signals are carried by DTT platform Digitenne, DTH platform Canal Digital, Glashart Media and a number of smaller cable operators including Caiway and SKO Veendam. The NPO said it is still trying to convince major operators Ziggo and UPC to start distributing the HbbTV services to their subscribers.

However, this will not be aneasy task, as Ziggo is using the red button for its Cloud TV services, while UPC’s Horizon service only has a red button hidden on the back of its remote control. On the old UPC set-tops, using OpenTV, the red button is reserved for the cabler’s own interactive services.