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Broadband TV News is reporting that Freesat is preparing to launch a new series of receivers that will run on the HbbTV (hybrid broadcast broadband) platform popularised in Germany and France.
Wait a minute.
What about Youview? You know, the UK cousin to the Euro HbbTV which is backed by BT, the BBC, ITV and a host of other U.K. broadband providers, and meant to bring video-on-demand to Freeview and Freesat and was notably rejected by Sky Virgin Media, IP Vision, Six TV, United For Local Television and the Open Source Consortium.
BBC and ITV are both backers of Freeview (in essence a competitor of HbbTV), which was slated to be the de facto standard in the UK for Connected TV, cost millions of pounds to develop, and has now been delayed until 2012. HbbTV is a fully Open Source Solution co-created by the French and the Germans (Dutch public broadcasters are also using the platform) as well as some Korean STB manufacturers).
Freesat is a free-to-air digital satellite television joint venture between the BBC and ITV plc, serving the United Kingdom. The service was marketed from 6 May 2008 and offers a satellite alternative to the Freeview service on digital terrestrial television, with a selection of channels available without subscription for users purchasing a receiver. The service also makes use of the additional capacity available on digital satellite broadcasting to offer a selection of high-definition programming from the BBC and ITV.
Freesat should be using Youview, considering the backers in it, and the huge investment in Freeview taken by both parties. But it appears they are not.
I have been an evangelist for the fully open source HbbTV for some time over Freeview, and frankly the move to use HbbTV does not surprise me - it just makes sense.
My take on this is – why on earth a slice of the broadcast sector and UK taxpayers (via funds invested by the government) are slated to spend £115.6m on Youview, including development, launch, and to the end of the first four years it is running – is beyond me. Not to mention they are battling half of their own broadcasting community, they also picked a name that could see them getting sued by Google (Youtube) and having to change it again – from Project Canvas to Youview to something else again...
The French and the Germans have been working on HbbTV for years, it's ready, it's working, it's fully Open Source – therefore free, and it's a European standard that has five times the supporters and partners as Youview.
The HbbTV consortium is a pan-European initiative aimed at providing an alternative to proprietary technologies and delivering an open platform for broadcasters to deliver value added on‐demand services to the end consumer.
And Broadband TV News also notes the move as rather controversial:
The plans codenamed G2, and already presented by the free-to-air satellite platform to some receiver manufacturers, run counter to the thinking by shareholders the BBC and ITV, which are also involved in YouView.
...A senior source familiar with the project told Broadband TV News that the Freesat G2 receivers would embrace the multiscreen concept and allow for viewing around the home, rather than tying viewers to a single satellite receiver. It would build on the existing html-based specification already adopted by broadcasters including ProSieben, Sat.1 and RTL.
Freesat already offers access to the BBC iPlayer through an early iteration of the MHEG Interaction channel and the use of the internet port that has been present on all receivers since the platform's launch in May 2008. Current suppliers to the platform include Humax, Panasonic and Grundig.