The HbbTV Association, a global initiative dedicated to providing open standards for the delivery of advanced interactive TV services through broadcast and broadband networks for connected TV sets and set-top boxes, has completed work on an update to its core specification (HbbTV 2.0.3).
For the first time, and based on the experience garnered through millions of receivers and hundreds of services worldwide, HbbTV has removed some features and is announcing the intention to remove others in the future. For example, never used parts of the media synchronisation, companion screen and CI Plus features have been removed as has been support for teletext subtitles in OTT content. A full list of the features concerned can be found in the HbbTV 2.0.3 explainer on the HbbTV website.
Some existing HbbTV features will be updated in line with the changes in the market place. The web standards included in HbbTV 2 will be updated from the original selection that was defined in 2013. Support for W3C Media Source extensions will be added. The MPEG DASH support will be extended to include CMAF. It is believed that many recent HbbTV devices already support these. Also relating to MPEG DASH, applications will be able to query if an implementation supports the ‘cbcs’ encryption mode originally used by Apple, but now becoming widespread in many DRM systems.
“The HbbTV specification is now a mature specification, as it is now used to a large scale in many commercial real-life situations,” said Vincent Grivet, Chairman of the HbbTV Association. “With this maturity of deployment, the market has a better view of what is really important and what is not so important in the end. Keeping the specification ‘lean’ and focused on the important things is key to make it implementable in a reasonable manner by manufacturers and other market players. This does not mean that the specification is frozen or does not meet new use cases, as demonstrated for instance with our recently published Application Discovery over Broadband phase 2 (ADB2) and Targeted Advertising (HbbTV-TA) additions.”
Jon Piesing, HbbTV Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Specification Group who spearheaded the specification development process, added: “Over the years, our core HbbTV 2 specification has accumulated a number of things that have never been used or which have been superseded. It’s now time to ‘spring clean’ our specification. Some things that we believe are not used will be removed in this update. Where things are used but superseded, we will send a clear message to the users of our specification that they need to plan a transition. While HbbTV does not aim at moving as fast as the web, equally it cannot keep adding technologies and features indefinitely without removing anything.”
The HbbTV Association aims to support version 2.0.3 in the July 2021 release of its Test Suite – the release aimed at products entering the market in 2022.