Combining broadcast and broadband TV – seamlessly
Hybrid services make use of both broadcast and broadband connectivity to combine traditional TV with video over IP. Hybrid set-top boxes allow operators to aggregate traditional linear broadcasts with video delivered via both managed and unmanaged (or ‘over the top’) IPTV networks.
This solution adds a completely new dimension to consumers’ TV experience. As well as viewing broadcast TV and internet video, they can enjoy interactive services such as internet browsing, TV on demand and video on demand (VOD).
Our set-top boxes allow operators to offer the full suite of broadcast TV, from children’s programmes to feature films. Adding hybrid capability opens up possibilities such as video on demand, catch-up TV and, in future, interactive applications such as NetFlix, weather or social media applications.
We have led the way in implementing hybrid services for payTV operators around the world. In 2008, we developed a next-generation satellite/IP hybrid set-top box to enable Canal+ to offer interactive services including +Le Cube, its VOD facility. The device also included a 320GB hard-drive, providing Personal Video Recorder (PVR) capability and allowing progressive download of VOD content. Canal+’s box was regarded at the time as the most advanced set-top box on the market, and +Le Cube was later selected as Best Hybrid Broadcast-IP Video Delivery Solution at the 2009 IPTV World Forum Awards.
In 2009, our long-term client Viasat Broadcasting selected us to launch a second-generation high-definition PVR with built-in hybrid functionality, allowing users to access movies, TV series and catch-up content on demand. The box uses hard-drive buffering to compensate for slower broadband connections.
At one stage, some observers felt that broadband TV would displace its broadcast counterpart. In fact, the two work very well together. Broadcast is ideal for delivering large amounts of common content cost-effectively, while broadband’s responsiveness and interactivity make it perfect for unique access to content.
In the future, therefore, we expect hybrid to be the predominant broadband TV format. It will be enhanced by technologies to distribute TV content throughout the home, a trend driven both by the analogue TV switch-off and consumers’ desire for better value for money from their subscription TV services.