Dutch broadcaster SBS is to deploy HbbTV compliant content services from Q2 2012.The company is using Divitel, a Dutch-based system integrator to deliver the HbbTV system. Despite the fact that the national broadcaster NPO carried out pilot projects last year, SBS will actually be the first Dutch broadcaster to deploy HbbTV in the country. Other major broadcasters present in the Netherlands such as commercial group RTL are expected to announce the roll out of services in the near future.
HbbTV is a technical standard designed to combine broadcast services with services delivered via broadband within a single point of access. The intent of HbbTV is to simplify the implementation of hybrid solutions for media services delivery. HbbTV is of course not new to the European media marketplace. In Germany, HbbTV apps have been launched by Vox, part of the RTL Group and by the Germany public service broadcasters ARD and ZDF (primarily to deliver catch-up TV services). In France, public broadcaster France Televisions adopted the HbbTV standard for hybrid DTT services and for the provision of news on connected TVs. Channels such as France 24 have announced the launch of HbbTV offerings, planned for early 2012.
Given the existing HbbTV standard uptake across European countries and the fact that the specification simplifies the delivery of OTT services to many connected devices - fragmentation of the landscape being a key issue for companies looking to exploit the explosion in IP-enabled devices - launches from broadcasters in additional countries serves to further reinforce the positioning of HbbTV compatible set-tops and connected TVs. We expect that of the 135.5m connectable TV sets and FTA STBs installed in Western Europe by 2014, 63 per cent will comprise HbbTV-compliant TV sets and set-tops.
The SBS launch of HbbTV compatible services is a key step in expanding its online offering and audience - particularly with the growing uptake of connected TVs - IHS Screen Digest estimates that 1.1m connected TVs will be installed in the Netherlands at year end 2012. However, the significance to the Dutch market should not be overstated, as the vast majority of households use pay-TV services for accessing content, which limits the opportunity for FTA hybrid HbbTV-compliant devices. In addition, the majority of Dutch households have heavy coax networking, meaning that even second sets can be reached relatively easily by pay-TV. So while the adoption of HbbTV by SBS is certainly a positive development for the standard, and may help accelerate the rate at which other Dutch broadcasters adopt it, in market terms, the impact is likely to be relatively muted.