Monday, 12 April 2021 17:36

Freeview begins rollout of new HbbTV service Featured

Freeview Australia CEO Bridget Fair Freeview Australia CEO Bridget Fair

Freeview Australia's enhanced HbbTV service provides more seamless integration between broadcast and on-demand BVOD services.

Rollout of the new Freview HbbTV (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV) service starts on 14 April 2021, and should be completed during the week of 12 May 2021.

The service is said to make it easier to search and discover content across more than 35 channels, as well as enabling free and on demand access to more than 50,000 individual programs and episodes from catch-up services.

It will allow search across ABC iview, SBS On Demand, 7plus, 9Now and 10 play without having to download the broadcasters' apps.

Freeview Australia CEO Bridget Fair said "We are delivering a whole new Freeview experience by creating a gateway to the world of news and entertainment that's free and easily accessible. We can now explore and discover content from last night or the last decade."

She added "Today's announcement is also great news for the networks and advertisers. With the launch of the new service, there is now an easier way to search and view linear and BVOD content with access to thousands of additional episodes and items. We know that Australians will be excited and engaged in this new FTA experience."

"With these announcements, Freeview continues to innovate and joins the ranks of leading global connected TV players harnessing the power of HbbTV. This new HbbTV technology is breaking ground as the leading delivery platform for DVB's new targeted advertising specification and continues to set standards for broadcast television by transforming possibilities for viewers".

(DVB targeted advertising [DVB-TA] is a specification that allows broadcast adverts to be dynamically replaced by targeted, internet-delivered ads, helping broadcasters compete with digital giants such as YouTube and Facebook.)

Freeview Australia's HbbTV application is based on the HbbTV 2.0 standard. The only other service using this standard to deliver an aggregated platform across multiple broadcasters is in the UK.

It also provides "a simple on-screen program guide that makes it easier than ever to see what's available across every Freeview broadcaster in Australia."

Freeview chair and ABC chief digital and information officer Helen Clifton said "I am very excited about the new HbbTV powered Freeview service for connected TVs, which is an important advance in free-to-air television in Australia. Not only will it provide audiences with a streamlined way to search and discover content, but it also opens up access to the complete free-to-air on-demand catalogue – over 5,000 hours of content."

ABC managing director David Anderson, SBS managing director James Taylor, Seven West Media managing director and CEO James Warburton, Nine CEO Mike Sneesby, and ViacomCBS ANZ executive vice presidents Beverley McGarvey and Jarrod Villani all welcomed the development.

The new HbbTV service is said to be fully backward compatible with all Freeview certified HbbTV 1.5 devices (dating back to 2014) through the dynamic delivery of different app versions to suit varying TV requirements.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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