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Can HbbTV and ATSC 3.0 Turn Broadcast Into A Broadband Competitor?

If you’re a television broadcaster, the constant drumbeat about how OTT and digitally delivered television are taking over the world is probably more like a pounding headache.

How do you compete with all those rich data capabilities and overall cool factor of OTT while still maintaining all those loyal over-the-air viewers?

Two very different standards have emerged as potential “NextGen TV” solutions for broadcasters, offering a way to bring them into the broadband era.


HbbTV or (it’s a mouthful) Hybrid broadcast broadband TV, is exactly what it sounds like: a set top box or smart TV-based interface that combines over the top (OTT) functionality with over the air (OTA) broadcasts.

The key benefit of HbbTV solutions to over-the-air broadcasters is the ability to provide their broadcast streams with digital companion apps that allow for the delivery of both onscreen interactivity and advanced advertising units.

The ten year old HbbTV standard has been deployed in 36 countries throughout Europe, Australia and the Middle East, and as of the end of 2018, over 100 million HbbTV-equipped TV sets have already been sold.

ATSC 3.0

ATSC 3.0 is a newer solution (it was just approved by the FCC this year.) Developed in conjunction with the Advanced Television Systems Committee (hence the name), it provides a hybrid signal to compatible smart TVs—audio and video are sent over the air, while advertising and other data is sent to the smart TV via a broadband connection. This allows broadcasters to offer targeted addressable ads and to receive exact viewership numbers. In addition, ATSC 3.0 broadcasts can be received on mobile phones. While the standard is first being launched in the U.S. this year, it’s been up and running in South Korea since last year, with great success.

Both systems allow broadcasters to offer addressable or targeted ads, something they were previously unable to do. The systems also allow varying degrees of interactivity, something else broadcast has been lacking.

Any standard that can help ensure the future viability of broadcast television is going to attract attention, and both HbbTV and ATSC 3.0 have done so. But because the notion of being able to add digital functionality to over the air broadcasts often seems more like a magic trick than a technology, both are often greatly misunderstood.

What’s more, their divergent histories and development timelines mean that many in the industry are unaware of the similarities (and the differences) and what their full potential could be, for advertisers, for broadcasters and ultimately for viewers.

That’s why one of our new round of TV[R]EV special reports will focus on NextGen TV, how it works, who should use it, the challenges it faces and the differences between the two standards. Co-authored by Mary Ann Halford, who has years of experience working in the international broadcast market as well as advising US broadcasters exploring ATSC 3.0, this paper will be a must-read for broadcasters, brands, OEMs, ad tech vendors and measurement companies.

Also On The Horizon: Measurement and Addressable Reports

In addition to our report on NextGen TV, TV[R[EV’s triumphant trio of Jason Damata, Alan Wolk and Mike Shields will be joined by measurement expert Charlene Weisler in a series of Special Reports around measurement, attribution, data, and addressable TV advertising.

Look for more details on sponsorship opportunities around these reports in the week ahead, or email us at yotvrev@gmail.com