Blog: Why HbbTV is do or die for broadcasters?

HbbTV is do or die for broadcasters

TV viewing has changed. Fact that everyone in the industry has accepted: broadcasters, advertisers, operators and content owners. Content consumption is moving from linear to catch-up at a pace that no-one can really forecast.


However, overall TV viewing is not decreasing, but staying nicely at a high level as can be seen from e.g. the BARB statistics (kindly provided via Rupen Shah/Thinkbox. Vieewing merely changing its form.

Graph of TV Viewing, source BARB

Broadcasters have mainly tried to tackle this paradigm change by launching online and mobile services. This is NOT solving the problem, as people still want to watch content on TV. Desktop viewing is decreasing, not increasing, mobile is less than 1/4 of the SmartTV viewing. Currently, Smart TV is by a big margin the biggest platform for viewing streaming content, just look at the numbers: Netflix 70%, BBC iPlayer 60%, and Hulu 70%. I am tempted to say that broadcasters investment is ill-placed. They are missing the main message that sometimes seems to be lost in the “digital buzz”:

TV is still the dominant device to watch video.

Breakdown of TV viewing time per device

Then, why aren’t broadcasters exploiting TV as they should, and can?

TV offers the best quality for video/sound, it is less distracting, it is convenient and keeps you company among other things (you can read more from here). Apart from content (which is another big topic for a blog) the user experience plays a dominant role in winning the viewer. How many clicks away is the content consumers (may) want to see? It is not by accident that Netflix has wanted to have their own button in e.g. Philips TV remote controls. All broadcasters have this button there already: the majority of people still turn on the TV by pressing the number buttons, why not to use it to the full extent!

The fact is that all the big streaming service providers have already understood the importance of the remote-control and are stepping over the established broadcasters. They are winning. I am so surprised again and again to hear that the broadcasters see HbbTV just as a “cost”, it is not a COST it is a battle that must be won, the battle on the control of the remote control and the viewer. The combined and integrated user experience of linear and on-demand viewing is a killer combination that the streaming/OTT providers cannot really yet offer with the same scale.

Netflix global viewing by device
Netflix global viewing by device

Many broadcasters that I talk to want to have also a “unified user experience” across different devices. One of the reasons SmartTVs are still been neglected is that a broadcaster needs to invest into 5-10 different SmartTV apps, unless of course, they rely on HbbTV. Standard that is supported by some 99% of new TVs that are sold. HbbTV offers you as a broadcaster a two-click access to your streaming service, without any visits to app store or app -installations. It is a sandbox that you can control, you can promote during your shows, integrate to the program guide and give viewers direct access via their remote controls.

It is time to wake up and act!

And thank god, some have!

Look at where the most well-informed broadcasters from Spain, France, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, U.K. or Australia. They have not just reacted but actually partnered together to win the game, to take the control back. Services like Freeview, Salto, LovesTV, HiTV and TasutaTV are the way forward, a combined linear and on-demand offering accessed easily, without app installations and hassle. All based on a common technical platform that runs on 99% of TVs, HbbTV.

Examples of HiTV HbbTV Applications
HiTV HbbTV Application Screenshots

Why HbbTV is better than others?

It offers a standard based approach, supported by governments, CE manufacturers, broadcasters and operators. Building by far the fastest growing single TV technology platform for local and global players. It lowers significantly the technology investment broadcasters need to make in order to build quality services that have enough reach for both content owners and advertisers to jump the band-wagon. It gives broadcasters the confidence and reliability to look into the future with peace of mind.

Next logical step would be to pull-out broadcasters content from streaming services, to compete for the world of Netflix with their own tactics: content. Oh, but some are already doing it, at least in France.

My bet is that whoever controls the remote control will win the game. It is not a question anymore, HbbTV is the vehicle that enables broadcasters to compete and win, or they will diminish and die.

Further reading

Look into some of our cases and products for HbbTV: