New Freeview Channels in UK Will Be Multichannel as Clever Techs Crack MHEG Technology to Include IPTV Streams

written by: Richard Kastelein

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After speculation raised a couple of weeks ago here at that there could be some serious disruption to the UK's Freeview platform:

...a World of Channels? On one channel? Where does this lead? More questions than answers right now, but leads to the conclusion that there could be some kind of new MHEG meets IPTV play of sorts going on here - if there's multiple channels on one channel as seems to be indicated by the information culled by the sleuthing efforts of the community at Digital Spy!

It now appears the story has broke in The Register online in the UK and word is out that Vision IPTV and Slipstream have teamed up and have suddenly blown out the current, limited amount of Freeview channels - to potentially hundreds if not thousands of possible IP based and delivered video in the future.

From the Register:

The channels are already appearing on Freeview boxes – at 110, 111 and 120 in the EPG – but rather than broadcasting video streams those channels contain only MHEG applications. Come the end of September those applications will allow viewers to select from dozens of specialist channels accessed over the internet connection mandated by the Freeview HD standard.

The idea is to bring streaming video to every Freeview HD box in the country, and charge for it too. The system already being deployed allows for subscription channels, and there's the potential (and intention) to provide video-on-demand services in the future.

And more details on the technology used:

The delivery, along with the applications to browse and request it, is accomplished using MHEG-5. MHEG was designed for laying out Digital Text pages (the Red button on BBC channels) but was recently extended to include control of video streams under the title MHEG-IC (Interaction Channel). It's already being used by the latest set-top incarnation of the BBC's iPlayer, which recently popped up on the TVOnics boxes, among others.

Vision takes that one stage further by inserting a new channel (or three) into the Freeview EPG which, when selected, checks if the box has an internet connection and then presents the viewer with a menu of available channels which can be served over an IP stream. Some of those channels will be free, but others will require the user to sign up – using a website, as Vision reckons entering credit-card details though a TV remote is a non-starter.

So later this month if you switch to channel 110 (moniker'ed "Vision"), you'll be presented with a choice of languages and a list of channels from various regions. These will include Polish and Greek channels initially, with a dozen more categories to follow. Each category leads to a selection of regional-interest channels which can be streamed live to the TV, though a password will be needed the first time a subscription channel is viewed.

Read Full article here.

The other question that asks begging is how much is the new, fifth channel being ponied up by Ofcom going to cost?


About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20â€ēs on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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