ANGA Cable 2012

HbbTV faces hurdles to wide-scale adoption, ANGA attendees told

HbbTV still faces a number of issues that are stalling widespread adoption of the hybrid broadcast-broadband TV standard, according to participants on a Smart TV strategy panel at the ANGA Cable Congress yesterday afternoon.

Marcus Dimpfel, strategy and business development chief at commercial broadcaster RTL Group said that his company was supporting HbbTV. He said HbbTV was a good compromise from the point of view of media groups including public broadcasters. However, he said RTL needed to secure its existing business model. He said RTL had commercial customers as well as viewers to satisfy. It was necessary to make sure people continued to watch commercials, he said. Dimpfel said RTL would develop products for HbbTV but it was not acceptable to prevent commercials from being visible or allowing third parties to use RTL’s services to sell their own products.

Dimpfel said that audience measurement lagged behind the launch of new technologies. It was important for the advertising industry to be able to place campaigns in an overall context and know what was happening on different screens. He said RTL supported measures taken by the Geburtsstunde der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Fernsehforschung (AGF), the audience research body set up by German public and commercial broadcasters to develop a single way to measure use of services.

With regard to interactive advertising, Dimpfel said broadcasters had to run experiments to find out what was acceptable to viewers. At the moment, he said, the reach of services was not sufficient to enable a viable targeted advertising model.

Michael Albrecht, DVB coordinator at public broadcaster ARD said the pubcaster had to make sure that broadcasters had up to now been focused more intently on analogue satellite switch off, which happened at the end of April. It was now important to educate consumers about what was available via HbbTV platforms, he said. “We will have to get consumers used to these parallel activities,” said Albrecht.

Albrecht said that he believed consumers were interested in accessing supplementary information to programmes as well as access to catch-up services, widely seen as the most compelling application. With regard to catch up libraries, broadcasters could open up a window. He said ARD was limited to seven-day catch-up.

Referring to plans for Germany’s Gold, the online advertising-supported VOD project developed by ARD and ZDF, Albrecht said that the antitrust authorities had yet to rule on this. He said that, even if approval was granted, the public broadcasters would have to come up with something that was acceptable to the market.

Henrik Rinnert, senior vice-president for TV at Media Broadcast, said that HbbTV was not intended to revolutionise TV, but that broadcasters had the opportunity to improve the experience of subscribers. Rinnert said that HbbTV was experiencing teething problems and could become more successful in the future.

From the perspective of platform operators, Thomas Elbeck, director of technology, products and services at Primacom said that the cable operator had launched in April a hybrid box with DVB and IP combined and would seek to work with others to bring over-the-top services to the platform. However, Elbeck said that if HbbTV-enabled consumer premises equipment didn’t work and customers called the service provider for assistance, this would be problematic. HbbTV services therefore had to work reliably if service providers are going to be brought on board, he said.

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